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.