A relationship means union, where two people can easily relate to each other. The act of relating forms the basis of a healthy relationship. But, what happens when the essence of the relationship is lost? When its foundation is reeling under the pressure of emotional abuse? Unfortunately, emotional abuse is true and very common in the modern world.
Emotional abuse can be defined as any behavior that affects the psychology of a person by overpowering him/her. It involves verbal and non-verbal abuse that eventually undermines the self-respect and independence of the victim. This form of abuse is harder to diagnose compared to physical abuse since the symptoms slowly find their way into the relationship. It begins with some unhealthy behaviors and then escalates to something very troubling.
So, is your partner emotionally abusive? Here are signs to look out for.
20 Signs of Emotional Abuse
1. Your partner regularly criticizes you and humiliates you in private and in public.
2. Your partner’s jealousy prevents you from doing some things, even colleagues and friends.
3. You’re scared of expressing yourself to your partner, and you always feel like you need to watch everything you say.
5. Your partner stops you from being with friends, and any other person outside the relationship.
6. He/she has threatened to hurt himself/herself. For example, he/she may threaten to end the relationship or commit suicide if you leave.
7. Your partner has threatened to hurt your and your family members if you betray him/her, or end the relationship.
8. Your partner uses the silent treatment to hurt you. He/she will not talk to you for days and acts as if you don’t exist.
9. Your partner doesn’t care about your feelings. Your concerns and complaints are dismissed. Common responses are ‘Why are you make such a big deal of it’ or ‘Can’t you take a joke’.
10. Your partner withholds appreciation, affection or approval. The message is that you’re not worthy.
11. Your partner questions your every move of the day.
12. Your partner manipulates you with lies.
13. Your partner makes decisions without consulting you. In such a case, he/she expects you to obey without questions and you have no say in the matter.
14. Your partner is violent and loses his/her temper very quickly.
15. Your partner blames you for everything wrong in the relationship and even makes you responsible for his/her emotional state.
16. Your partner pressures and demands sex. He/she may also withholds sex to control you.
17. Your partner uses money or children for control. For example, he/she may threaten to take them if the relationship ends.
18. He/she uses your words against you.
19. Your partner makes sure you don’t get what you want.
20. Your partner screams, yells and hurls insults at you.
Effects of Emotional Abuse
1. Low self esteem
Emotional abusers can be very manipulative. They manipulate their partners into thinking they are not good enough for others. This lowers their self-esteem to the point that the problem starts manifesting itself in other areas of their lives such as work.
2. Depression and anxiety
When you’re constantly insulted and are always talked down, depression and anxiety is inevitable. You will soon begin to see all your flaws. When this happens, you start to feel helpless and stressed. Lack of human interaction will also make it hard for you to cope with other tough areas of your life. All this leads to depression.
3. Substance Abuse
Being in unhealthy relations can serve as a motivation for many to turn to substance abuse in order to cope with low self-esteem, depression and other problems.
4. Loss of Identity
Compared to physical abuse, emotional abuse tends to be much more psychologically damaging. This is because the victims blame themselves and always believe all the things said to them. The victims start to doubt who they are. They may even begin to second guess whether they can make some simple decisions in life. Generally, emotional abuse stabs its victim through the heart, leaving them wounded for many years.
How to Deal With Emotional Abuse
The ultimate outcome of emotional abuse is that the sufferer gets scared of being alone. Hence, they continue to stay in the abusive relationship. The victim feels shame and keeps the abuse a secret. However, this only makes the situation worse as the abuse doesn’t stop.
If emotional abuse remains unchecked, it can worsen the symptoms and may lead to serious emotional and physiological problems. If you have been abused, or if you notice someone is being abused, then you need to do something to make it stop. Consult and seek help from support services like the police, social service agency, legal adviser, or even a health professional. Understand your rights and consider speaking out.