5 Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse
Is it possible that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship without even realizing it?
If you are continually feeling "off-balance," confused, insecure, and as though you're walking on eggshells, chances are you are in a psychologically abusive relationship. Emotional abuse often starts subtly and becomes more glaring as the relationship goes on. What makes this form of abuse so devastating is that the manipulation makes you feel as though it is your fault. It may even feel warranted and that your abuser only loves you and wants you to be at your best.
Because of the insidious nature of the abuse, by the time the relationship ends, the abuse victim's mental health, self-esteem, and boundaries have been so severely compromised that moving on from the abuser becomes almost impossible. The victim is left hopeless, depressed, and unable to gain clarity on the abuse she just lived through.
At the end of the relationship, the survivor often has nowhere to turn. Because psychological abusers are incredibly manipulative, they will have already started talking negatively about their partner and painting themselves as the victim. Emotionally abusive partners, unfortunately, tend to be incredibly charming and charismatic in public and devastatingly manipulative and abusive in private. The abuse victim, on the other hand, tends to keep the abuse private and doesn't talk about it, because she was made to feel at fault. When the relationship ends, the victim now needing support, often finds herself confronted with the reality that friends have already been manipulated into supporting the abuser instead of the victim.
Here are 7 signs that you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship:
1. Silent Treatment:
It is one of the most common weapons used by abusers and is ALWAYS psychological abuse. In a healthy relationship, when conflict arises, each party ought to be able to state their feelings in a healthy, loving manner without the fear of receiving the silent treatment. The silent treatment is devastating because it implies that the victim is not even worthy of being acknowledged. The ignored partner will then frantically attempt to gain back favor or attention, while the abuser categorizes completely reasonable attempts to re-engage as "crazy."
2. Extreme Moodiness:
If you often find yourself anticipating what mood your partner will be in, and adapting your behavior to pacify their mood, you are psychologically manipulated. If you alter your behavior in any way to garnish the favor of your loved one, you are being groomed through intermittent behavior reinforcement. Studies have shown that the most powerful way to alter another's behavior and gain compliance, is through randomly rewarding behavior. Think gambling addiction! If your partner treats you badly most of the time and then showers you with love randomly, does it not follow that you will attempt to reproduce the behavior that caused the reward over and over again in the hope that you will be rewarded again?
3. Implied Abandonment:
How often are you told either explicitly or implicitly that if you don't shape up, you will be left? This type of threat can be verbal, but more often, it is done subtly through the use of silent treatment, stonewalling, or ghosting. If you find yourself always wondering if the relationship will last, or if your partner will leave, you are quite possibly controlled through implied abandonment. In a healthy connection, you don't question your partner's commitment. You feel secure knowing that when trouble arises, you are equally committed to working it out.
4. Withdrawal of Affection:
If you find yourself having to beg for affection, if you are told that you are not worthy of a hug, if you cry yourself to sleep next to a person that is facing away from you as though you are not suffering, you are being emotionally abused. Your partner ought to care that you feel loved. Your partner ought to be responsive to your need for affection. A hug or a touch should never have to be earned, but instead freely given in a loving relationship.
5. Triangulation: If your partner has stopped bringing you around to his family and friends or if they tell you that their friends or family don't like you, it is a red flag. And if you notice that they are attempting to make you jealous by introducing you to people they claim have a crush on them or that they have had affairs with, be careful! In a healthy relationship, partners don't intentionally want to create feelings of jealousy and then call you crazy for feeling them. Your partner ought to wish his friends and family to love you as much as they do. They ought to be invested in making you feel loved, cherished, and safe.
If you see yourself in theses words, please know there is little chance that your relationship will improve. It would take a tremendous amount of insight and willingness to change by the abuser to make these relationships work. Sadly, very few abusers have that degree of introspection or are willing to go through the trouble of healing themselves when it is so easy for them to find other potential victims to their charisma and charm.
I know from personal experience that you may love the abuser with all your heart, but part of healing from psychological abuse is recognizing that the other will never be able to love you in a way that you deserve. I can also assure you that in time, you will heal the parts of you that allowed for the abuse to happen. You will recover your boundaries, and you will come to recognize that you deserve love on a much deeper and healthier level. When that time comes, nothing will keep that love from you.