We see and hear a lot more about physical and emotional abuse in relationships these days but sometimes we don’t even know we are in an emotionally abusive relationship until it’s too late. When I say, “to0 late” I don’t mean we can’t do anything about it, I mean substantial hurt has been caused. Despite hearing more about abusive relationships people are still unsure as to what constitutes to abuse so here is a definition of an abusive relationship.
“Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviours used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation and intimidation. Abuse escalates over time “
Emotional abuse, more often than not, goes unnoticed and you as the victim may even be oblivious to it and the sad truth is while bones and bruises heal from physical abuse the wounds left from emotional abuse can last a lifetime.
Abusive relationships don’t start off abusive, it’s a gradual and very subtle process that happens over time and you never know how you will react unless you are in that position, that said every abusive relationship is different, no two are the same. People have often criticized victims of abuse as weak and or pathetic, which in turn is just more abuse from someone who doesn’t know the situation.
Slowly but surely it begins to have such a detrimental impact on you in many ways, a change in personality, loss of self-esteem, self-worth and respect. The unfortunate thing is many people including myself allow such manipulation and emotional torture to continue for reasons we can’t comprehend.
Simple, it’s in the name of love. Love does require compromise but it should never be in the form of your own self-worth. Some people, however, may be unaware of the abuse, so this is why I have composed a few warning signs that constitute to emotional abuse. I compose this both from personal experience and from professional experience as a police officer.
8 Signs Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship:
We all like to laugh, either at a joke and even at ourselves, however, there is a fine line that should not be crossed. Does a partner humiliate you? Make fun of you? Or put you down? Do they tease you or are they sarcastic to make you feel inferior and bad about yourself. This can be in private or a public environment.
Being in control gives them power and a sense of domination, trying to dictate and control things you do. You lose your independence and freedom as well as your own growth as a person. They make you feel like you are being monitored and treated like a child. They tell you what you can wear, where you can go and who with. What you can eat, What time you should be home, checking mileage on the car.
3. Financial Control:
They like to control finances and how you spend your money, this is so they know exactly what you are doing. Does your salary go into a separate account? Do you have a joint account yet your partner has a separate one and you don’t? Do they give you an allowance and want to know what you have spent the money on?
4. Belittling And Demoralising:
They belittle you and your accomplishments, dash your hopes and dreams. In a healthy relationship, a partner should see the best in you despite your flaws and we all have them, but if they continue to point out your flaws and dismiss your accomplishments they are slowly making you feel worthless. Does your partner tell you, you are not good enough? Always say you could be better or they would have done better? Do they stop you from talking when you are sharing a positive accomplishment and talk about themselves or put you down.
5. Punishment / Retribution:
These two words shouldn’t even be in a relationship but some people feel the need to subject their partners to some form of punishment, again this is to assert their dominance in the relationship and make you feel inferior to them. We all make mistakes but this doesn’t mean we should be constantly reminded of them, made to feel guilty and subjected to punishment. They constantly bring past mistakes up. If you make a mistake do they punish you?
6. Constant Blaming:
Things will sometimes go wrong both in our personal and professional lives through no fault of our own, however, the abuser will always make it out to be your fault, you will be blamed despite you having no control over the events. It becomes a very draining and a demanding task to constantly prove yourself.
They make a mistake and behave poorly however during the argument they manipulate you into believing it’s your fault and make you apologize for your role in ” making ” them behave negatively. Their bad behavior is, was and will always be your fault. They will upset you and hurt your feelings and tell you that you are ” too emotional and too sensitive ”
They tell you who you can spend time with and over time your circle of friends becomes smaller and you start to see and spend less time with your family and only do so when your partner is with you. They tell you negative things about your friends and family so you cut ties with them, in turn isolating you from the outside world. This is so family and friends do not see signs of the abuse and you have no one to confide in, but also so you are isolated and your partner is able to assert his control easier and you become solely dependant on them.
The above are just a few examples of what can be emotional abuse there are so many other behaviors that would also be classed as emotional abuse.
Emotional Abuse Examples:
Tony was emotionally abusive to Keri. That had a very complicated relationship that started off on bad footing. While dating Keri became pregnant. Tony wasn’t ready to be a father and left Keri to deal with the pregnancy and soon parenting responsibilities on her own. When their child was 9 months old, Keri received an email from Tony expressing his sorry at abandoning her while she was pregnant and also, an interest in getting to know his son.
Long story short, Tony and Keri rekindled their relationship and when their child was 2-years-old they married and became a family. On the wedding night, things changed. Before the wedding and during their relationship, Keri and Tony had always had an active sex life. Once they were married, for some reason, Tony lost interest in sex. In fact, Tony lost interest in most things he felt or was sure Keri needed.
Tony became a “withholder.” Although they both thought they had worked through the issue of the unwanted pregnancy and Tony abandoning Keri, they were mistaken. Tony harbored a lot of resentment still and he took that resentment out on Keri by denying her affection, intimacy and other things she needed to feel loved in the relationships.
They averaged having sex 4 times a year. Tony was habitually late if he knew Keri needed him to be somewhere at a certain time. He withheld money from her, putting her in a position of having to go to him and ask for money. An example of Tony’s abuse; When Keri was attempt to communicate her feelings about his withholding tendencies, Tony would roll his eyes and say to her, “not that again, why do you always have to turn a molehill into a mountain?”
So, not only did Tony withhold, but he minimized Keri’s pain also. Needless to say, Their marriage only lasted 13 years and ended when Keri insisted they seek therapy for their issues. Tony chose to leave instead of facing whatever demons he was burdened with.
Emotional Abuse and Narcissism:
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. A narcissist is quite talented when it comes to emotional abuse. Although a narcissist can and often does resort to physical violence, they’re most likely to resort to emotional abuse to get their needs met.
A narcissist treats you, in the beginning, as if you’re the center of their universe. The narcissist worships the ground you walk on, to begin with. The narcissist believes they are worthy of nothing less than perfection. You, as a flawed human will be devalued once you’ve done something they view as less than perfect, in their eyes. Once they devalue you, they begin to emotionally abuse you. Once your flaws show, they view you as beneath them. They’re having to settle for less than they deserve and you have to pay for letting them down.
The key to surviving an emotionally abusive relationship is to arm yourself with knowledge. Not take responsibility for trying to fix the abuser. Set boundaries on the behaviors you’ll accept from the abuser and, if need be, for your own sanity, leave the relationship.
Women can be the emotional abuser as well. My soon-to-be-ex wife did (still does) ALL 8 of these things. You may not have intended to imply that these criteria are specific to men, but it is easy to come to that concusion since your website is titled “DivorcedMoms”.
Cathy Meyer says
Yes, John, since this is a website for women we have a tendency to be a bit gender biased since we write for women. I wouldn’t go to Askmen.com and expect an article about anything other than men.
John I completely agree that both women and men can be the ” abuser ” that’s why every effort writing the article was made not to specifically refer to either gender, therefore no ” implying ” on the writers behalf, namely myself.
This is however a website named Divorcedmoms and the article is written by a woman so maybe that’s where you are getting the feeling it’s specifically aimed at men.
I would love nothing more than to print up and laminate this article – post a copy of it to my sarcastic, critical, emotionally and financially abusive sociopathic ex-husband (as well as his sister and father) if I thought even one point of it would sink in or induce even a split second of self-reflection on his (or their) part but ofcourse this would only play to his delusions that he is the victim and his ex-wife is as crazy as he tried to tell her she was. It would also fuel his sick pleasure at thinking that he had been powerful, clever and special enough to inflict this kind of damage to the woman that wasted all of her 30s on him and produced two children for him. Great article and whilst ‘we’ never get apologies, acknowledgment, justice or ‘closure’ from these abusers, atleast we can feel the support and sanity of others who share their knowledge and experience with us. Thankyou.
For the love of God I wish all of these lists would include the silent treatment. Unhealthy and emotionally abusive, as it is intended to make you feel emotionally ostracized and isolated. It’s not “cooling off”.
Kevalyn Pennington says
Yes!! The silent treatment goes in with manipulation.
What was the moment you realized you needed to get out of your abusive relationship and why is it so difficult to make the decision to leave even when recognizing your relationship is abusive?
When you realize it’s not your fault after all ! And they will never change ! I wasted 16 years !
These are all happening to me but in my situation we are not married. But we live together and he has now left, leaving me to deal with all the bills etc and I haven’t worked in 2 years because of migraines and have been waiting for disability. He has caused me to lose my car insurance policy by hiding the cancellation notice as he insists on getting the mail and pays the bill online. Now the policy I’m stuck with is twice the cost and half the coverage and I can’t pay it until I find a job…..and he laughs at this. I’ve completely lost my sense of self and I think that was his objective. I’m just broken.
DivorcedMoms Editor says
Melissa, if you have insurance that will cover therapy, it would be best to get into one. And, whatever you do, don’t let him come back!
My twin sister is going through this as we speak. I am heartbroken over the situation. I’m doing everything I can to continue our relationship but he has manipulated her to the point where we can’t even have an honest you conversation. I’m beginning to give up. I don’t know what to do anymore. She has lost majority of her friends because they know he is toxic. My family hates him and they have broken up three times. Each time I think it’s over and then within weeks they are back together bc she couldn’t fathom starting over. Everyone is just exhausted. Any advice?
There are many times when I try to understand where my husbands extreme verbal abuse stems from. It’s the big C and AH, just to name the worst ones, nearly daily and most times in public or in front of family. It is breaking me down fast at this point. I look to male related articles to help me understand, and for myself I look for insight from women like myself, to help me be stronger for my kids and myself. I can see why you are divorced, John. You can’t even read an article and realize it isn’t about you.
Great article! This sure describes my husband, I almost thought the writer knew him. He’s highly manipulated, hardly ever says sorry for his wrongs, finds fault in EVERYTHING I do, blames me for everything or anything that goes wrong, gives me the silent treatment for days, believes he’s better and smarter than me, controls my finances, would always wait for me to ask for money. He believes he is God sent you me and he did me a favor by marrying me. We’ve been married for 10 years and it was sweet, romantic and rosy when we dated, as soon as we got married, he gradually started exhibiting emotional abuse. We would have an argument, and he would say hurtful things and I would get upset, and then he would get upset that I am upset and would say I am so sensitive and emotional and in reverse psychology, I would be the one to apologize. I’m not sure how much longer I can live with this, I keep thinking things will get better. We have two beautiful children and it’s difficult to leave.
I have been dealing with an emotional abuser almost 20 years. I knew from the start that his father abused his mother , But he was so good to me in the beginning And so against his father’s behavior.. I never expected him to turn into him . We have been married for 13 years and it’s getting worse and worse by the day. Don’t get me wrong, we have had plenty happy good times but The majority of our marriage I have been the main provider (since he always loses a job and takes plenty of time off in between) I am 46 years old now and I have given him my my good years and I find it very difficult to MoveOn although I want to and have asked him to leave several times and he won’t. He took all my good years and makes sure he tells me daily how disgusting i look. I am not over weight just average now (not the 120lbs i was when we met but still look decent at 150 for 5’5) but my age obviously my skin isn’t perfectly smooth anymore my teeth aren’t as bright white as they used to be and he takes those things and uses them against me – calls me Raggedy Anne and other names.. and in the same breath of him telling me that I will never find anyone as hot as he is (thinks he is) he accuses me of sleeping with any man he could think of that he knows that we both now – my neighbors 20-year-old son who has autism, to my 65-year-old boss, to his young friend in his 20s that he used to jam with and doesn’t return his calls somehow that’s my fault too so I must have slept with him … . He Lost another job in September which of course is my fault I made him lose this and every job he has had in his opinion. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells and never know what I am walking into when I come home from work- Seems to have gotten progressively worse since he lost his job last job. I literally thought he must have a brain tumor because nothing he says it makes any sense at all. I keep trying to make excuses for his behavior because He treats me this way – he spends all of his days and nights making videos of himself to share on Instagram. He sleeps about four hours daily and then wakes up at 4 AM opens the back window and calls out to the neighborhood and says get the “f” up people coooookoo. He does whatever he can to embarrass me and try to get us kicked out of here since we only rent And he has never provided any type of stability for me and we have moved and he got us kicked out of every home for one reason or another (we stay many years each place but have moved 6 times in 17 yrs living together- i actually moved from NY to NJ to try again to start over..without anybody judging us knowing anything about our past I thought it would give us a fresh start !!! and it was amazing for the first nine months., then I found him sending love songs he used to sing to me (he is a rocker/singer song writer fame wannabe) to another woman he met while exterminating (another job that didn’t last long) this woman obviously never replied to him (she is a married lawyer who is also a writer (he aims high) or wanted anything to do with him but because I noticed he did this for months trying to get her attention and I confronted him about it things went downhill from there on for me . He sends celebrities in the boxes telling them how gorgeous they are and how much he loves them waiting for them to reply thinking that he is so amazing that they will reply and fall deeply in love . Of course when I confront him Its all lies how he is just getting people to see him for his music. He has gotten so bad he follows me out the door I try to leave for work, He will yell things at the door for all neighbors to hear calling me a whore or a crackhead – none true just to diminish my reputation- He usually does these things if I don’t deal with him and do whats asked- he is trying to control me through humiliation .my life is like that sonf “voices carry”. Yesterday he insisted i give him money for cigs which I had no cash on me (always using debit who has cash these days) and when i said no he waited for me by car insisting i take him to store- and back home again before i go to work (which he already made me half hr late for ) and when i lied and said i left my card at work-, because I didn’t want to make myself any later than I already was and lose my job He spit all over my car and screamed at me, and threw potted plants from the porch all over front lawn and at the car!! I am so nauseated and i shake and show up to work in tears .. my boss is aware of his sudden change, my coworkers cover my a$$ daily. He won’t leave. I got desperate and told his sister (thought he could move there before things get even worse) but she blamed and shamed me telling me he would be so much better and happier without me!! More digs. So i asked her to come convince him to leave then or I will have him removed by legal force !! Well around 3 pm they all made the trip from NY to NJ (his older 3 sisters ) picked him up… and took him out for a 3 hr lunch then dropped him back off armed w info that he shouldn’t have to leave !!meanwhile my life and work is in NJ and I even had my sister move ten mins away to be closer to me and watch her 4 yr old son-grow up!!
I pay all the bills and they want me to leave !!
I am lost- I love my home and do not want to lose it since he ruined my credit it would be impossible to find a new place now (i also have two pets) what a mess… sorry for the long story- i just feel like even of i divorce him which I plan to.. he will not leave willingly and without him physically leaving marks on me no one believes anything –
I even had a crisis center call cops to take him to get checked mentally (on 10/30/19) they released him within 1&1/2 hours and sent him back to me. The dr due to hippa laws wouldn’t even see me and a social worker looked and me with disgust and said his behavior is typical for having a cheating spouse!! I never cheated i am married and took my vows seriously !! I feel like the law is against me and I just have no way out without losing everything I paid for. Someone will comment-its just Stuff – for me its not it is the location and life I built and not being forced to move once again
Thanks this opened my eyes I always had doubts but put myself as maybe the bad one.but I’m unsure where to go for help.