Emotional abuse can be easy to spot in other people, but if you are involved in it, it can be quite easy to miss the signs, especially if there is little or no violence involved.
We all go into romantic relationships with great expectations of finding love and happiness in the person we are involved with. But what happens when your reality is the opposite of those expectations as a partner is emotionally abusing you?
Victims may even find themselves downplaying the extent of their abusers’ effect by normalizing it. It may also be accompanied by physical, sexual and even financial abuse.
Emotional abuse can be very debilitating as it reduces a person’s confidence, esteem and worthwhile making them feel like it’s all their fault.
When you become aware of the signs of emotional abuse, you take the first step to empowering yourself in the event that you find yourself in this kind of situation. I’m going to be describing a few pointers that can help you tell if you or someone around you is romantically involved with an emotional abuser.
1. They are verbally abusive.
Virtually all emotionally abusive relationships involve a lot of verbal abuse. This may show up as name-calling, derogatory pet-names, constant criticism, verbal put-downs, and insults and curses, to mention a few.
This verbal abuse is designed to whittle down your sense of self till all you can see about you is what they say. They may even apologize and call their abuse a “joke” but that doesn’t hide what it really is.
2. They are irrationally jealous.
An emotionally abusive partner usually finds a reason to suspect your loyalty to them without any cause. This irrational jealousy may cause them to constantly accuse you of cheating and lead you to do unnecessary things like cutting off your friends and family members in order to ease their fears.
It may even result in calling or checking on you constantly not out of care and affection but to know where you are at every particular moment.
3. They withhold emotional affection from you if you don’t comply with their wishes.
If you find your partner shutting you out emotionally as a way of manipulating into doing their bidding all the time, then you need to be careful. A healthy relationship is one that involves communication even when someone is upset, but trying to force behaviour by manipulation is plain insensitive.
4. They gaslight you.
Gaslighting is an emotional abuse tactic in which one partner causes the others to doubt their own interpretation of events. For example, an emotionally abusive partner can gaslight you by saying you are too sensitive when you call them out on their behaviour. They may even constantly deny what happened by describing an alternate sequence of events that causes you to doubt if you actually remembered what happened, even though you know you did.
5. They guilt-trip you for their actions.
In an emotionally abusive relationship, you may always find your partner blaming you or other people for their actions when you point it out. This blame-shifting effectively makes you the cause of their actions and absorbs them of any responsibility.
You may hear statements like, “I was angry because you upset me” or “I only called you those names because you made me do it.” And in a bid not to cause any further abuse, you try to be perfect around them, but that never stops anything.
The good thing is that recognising that these behaviours are not normal but are in fact dangerous and unhealthy can help you or someone around you get out of an abusive relationship. A great first step would be talking to someone you can trust who can help you get out as soon as possible.