Emotional abuse in relationships
Unfortunately, many people use others to take their frustrations out on. They have a bad day at work and they transfer that anger and frustration on to a ‘safer target’ – usually a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband or wife. This behaviour is incredibly common yet very few people ever talk about it. I liken domestic abuse to an ice berg – what we know about and see is like the tip of the ice berg but the largest part remains hidden. The reality is very frightening. I would even go so far as to say at least one couple out of every five experiences domestic violence in some form – either physical, mental, emotional or all three. The longer the abuse continues, the harder it becomes to break free from the destructive cycle. The victim is subjected to a pattern of damaging behaviour that erodes their confidence and sense of self. Their identity is slowly chipped away and they become ever more passive.
Signs to look out for:
If you are in a relationship where you feel you cannot be yourself for fear of criticism or judgement, you are in an unhealthy situation. This does not mean it is necessarily abusive but the foundations are not good going forward. Each relationship is unique but trust your instincts.
Other signs – jealousy and possessiveness. No one has the right to own another person and control who they see and where they go.
Some abusers tend to be fantastic at knowing what to say in the beginning. They are charming and you feel so loved yet it can all be part of a strategy to hook you emotionally. Once hooked emotionally, a person is much easier to control. Abusive people tend to go on the offensive and move quickly in the early stages…be wary if they want to hurry things along. It may seem flattering but if it is the right relationship, it will continue in the right direction even if at a slower pace.
Someone who regularly belittles you, trying to keep you in your place is usually someone who has low self esteem and is afraid you will outshine them. They need to keep you full of self doubt in order to control you. Someone who doesn’t encourage you and who doesn’t want you to achieve your best is not ultimately on your side.
Minimising your feelings is another form of emotional abuse. Do you feel you are never heard? You talk but the other person doesn’t listen and keeps imposing their own views upon you. If you are told that you are “too sensitive” it is a way to avoid dealing with what has upset you. Every now and then we can be too sensitive, so ignore one-offs. However – look out for patterns of behaviour, they are more damaging. No one is perfect and we can all say and do the wrong things at times. The difference though is that a non-abusive person will genuinely not want to upset someone they love and will try not to do it again.
When things go wrong, is it somehow always your fault? This is another sign of abuse. Somehow, your words get twisted and you are left apologising and doubting yourself. See this for what it is – emotional abuse.
Testing your emotions – some people will test you. They will say something upsetting and see what response they get. When they see you get upset they feel satisfied that they still have an emotional hold over you. Instead of being assertive in their attempts to find out how you feel, they will play games to get reactions. Sometimes displaying passive aggressive behaviour.
Abusers are generally cowards who feel quite powerless. This is why they try to control others to give them that sense of power. They can seem like emotional vampires and in the long run they will drain you completely.
If you suspect that you are in an abusive relationship it might be time to see a counsellor to help you break free. Get in touch if you need help or check out my YouTube video for more info on abusive relationships.
Life is too short to spend it being a ‘smaller version’ of the real you!