Emotional abuse is usually a weapon used by one person to control another.
At first, the abuser may come across as a charismatic and charming person, waiting until they and their partner are, for example, ready to move in together, before they feel confident enough to take their mask off. Abusers also often manipulate their partners into thinking abusive behavior has a romantic side to it.
Their behavior could be the result of unchecked jealousy – something that they often feel is justified and can be a sign that they ‘truly love’ their partner. But in reality, it is used as a tool for control if the abuser cannot handle their own feelings.
Also, the abuser may try to convince their partner that they aren’t good enough and this toxic relationship is the best deal they can hope for.
If you’re worried that you may be experiencing this with your partner, look out for the following 8 signs that you might be the victim of an emotional abuser:
Most couples occasionally raise their voice at each other but it is definitely unhealthy when disagreements escalate into shouting on a regular basis. And this is especially worrying if it leaves you feeling afraid. Not only does yelling make a productive conversation close to impossible, but it also creates a power imbalance – the loudest person wins.
If you’re starting to feel that your partner’s threats are getting out of hand, listen to what your gut tells you and find a way to leave. Statements starting with “if” and “then” can include blackmail, threats of physical violence, suicide, and more, but they often serve the same purpose: To back the victim into a corner and stop them from leaving.
Your partner seems extremely invested in your social life or keeps track of and criticizes your every move without acknowledging your desires. You don’t feel like you have the freedom to make choices without their consent. Even seemingly small comments that undermine your independence are used as a means to control you.
The abuser can often make you feel like their misery is all your fault (even if it obviously isn’t). This makes the cycle of manipulation and abuse much more difficult to break free from.
Gaslighting is the most insidious form of psychological manipulation. It causes the victim to doubt their own past experiences, judgment, and even sanity. If your partner constantly dismisses everything you say as “false,” “stupid,” or “crazy,” you may have fallen victim to gaslighting.
6. Extreme defensiveness
If you often find yourself feeling like you have to defend yourself, there’s less chance for positive communication. It is vital for the survival of a relationship for both parties to be able to talk honestly and openly with each other in order to find appropriate solutions to problems. Extreme defensiveness can feel like you’re in a battle where your shield always has to be up, or else…
The toxicity of emotional abuse affects all areas of life. One of its worst aspects is the way it messes up the victims’ relationships with friends and family. As the abuser convinces their partner that no one really cares about them the way they do, the victim becomes alienated and left feeling as if they’re on a desert island, removed from everyone who loves them, including their past selves.
8. Vile Contempt
When one person is being treated with contempt by the other, it is incredibly hard for either of them to express their true feelings. In a healthy relationship, it is expected that your partner will listen and treat you with respect. But if they respond to your needs with rotten sarcasm, arrogance, disgust, or indifference, this can create a barrier in your relationship that will only get bigger and uglier with time.
So what can you do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship?
Knowing how and when to carefully exit a relationship with an abusive partner can prove to be difficult, especially if you’ve been isolated from your social circle or if they messed up your self-esteem.
If you suspect you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, depending on the severity of the situation, it may be best to talk to someone you trust outside of the relationship before you take the next step. It’s always good to get an outside perspective. Should you feel that things are getting out of hand, however, do not hesitate to seek the help of your local anti-domestic violence hotline!
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