Believe it or not, emotional abuse is something that happens very often even among people who aren’t in a romantic relationship with each other.
It is often witnessed with friends, colleagues, or family members.
But what does emotional abuse stand for?
When someone mentions the term emotional abuse, we usually think it’s expressed through shouting, yelling, and screaming. The truth is that it could go as far as that, but more often it happens at a low voice. That is why it isn’t ‘t easy to recognize the emotional abuse which occurs this way.
To help you identify whether or not you’ve fallen victim of emotional abuse below we’ve outlined 10 possible signs of emotional abuse provided by experts.
If it happens that you recognize most of or all of them in your relationship – it might be high time you took measures against it:
1. They joke with you in a mean way
Some emotional abusers try to abuse you by saying unpleasant things about you and mask them as“just a joke.” This form of verbal abuse can be seen among romantic partners, friends, and colleagues and it can severely impact the way you feel about yourself. Don’t avoid it if what it’s doing is seriously bothering you.
2. They try to guilt trip you
Guilt tripping is a manipulation tactic which consists of making someone feel guilty so that this guilt acts as a reason to think or behave a way they usually wouldn’t. Often it involves the manipulator acting victimized or making things for the other partner to create emotional debt.
Ever been guilt-tripped? If yes, it means you might have fallen victim of emotional abuse.
3. They tend to ignore you
This is a method people use to belittle other people or to make them feel unappreciated. If this what your partner, friend or colleague does to you, you’re being abused and disrespected.
4. They are always right
In a healthy relationship, your partner should criticize you delicately and healthily in order not to make you feel bad about yourself… even when you are wrong. Here is what Davida Rappaport, Speaker, Spiritual Counselor & Dating Expert explains about this:
“If your partner takes their need to be right to the next level, they may start to denigrate you — criticize what you say, what you do, the choices you make and so on,” Rappaport says. “When this happens, you may feel trapped — damned if you do; damned if you don’t. At this point, your self-esteem and confidence may also begin to erode because you may feel that you will never be able to please your partner. Criticism may also lead to insults and verbal abuse.”
When people have arguments, they might say things which sound offensive and voices might get raised —and this is considered normal if it happens from time to time. But if are always verbally criticized os shouted at for any reason that might annoy your partner, that’s a sign of abuse.
“If your partner verbally abuses you — which can be a combination of constant criticism, not respecting you and any number of behaviors that show lack of respect — this can be considered a form of emotional abuse,” Rappaport says. “If your partner constantly yells or shouts at you when they become angry, frustrated, hurt, etc., you end up being not only their sounding board, but you may also become emotionally battered as a result of this behavior.”
6. They refuse intimacy to manipulate you
In a good relationship, affection and intimacy are happily given by both partners, and not refused as a way to manipulate the partner:
“If you have a partner who uses sex or affection to control you, this can be considered emotional blackmail or emotional abuse,” Rappaport explains. “Using intimacy, sex or affection to control a relationship creates resentment. Over time, you may begin to withdraw from the relationship because you are starving for love or affection. This also opens up the door for one or both partners to start cheating.”
Gaslighting is a kind of psychological abuse wherein your partner deliberately tries to confuse you by twisting facts and situations; then they act as if there is a problem with your perception when you express your doubts or question things.
“A gaslighter screws with your reality then tells you you’re crazy,” Dr. Perpetua Neo, Executive Coach & Psychologist, explains. “For example my ex-used to delete names off selected numbers from my phonebook, then he’d tell me I was crazy and hiding things from him because ‘I scroll through your phone, there are so many unnamed people, names keep disappearing.’ Because I didn’t have any reason to suspect him at first, I thought I was going crazy! Other forms of gaslighting include telling you you’re crazy and too sensitive, so you intellectualize all forms of their bad behavior, slowly absolving them all.”
8. They try to manipulate you using their feelings for you
If your partner shows too much love and affection at first, only to later stop showing you their love and affections and starts to manipulate and to isolate you – they are emotionally abusing you:
“They might tell you your family/friends are ‘bad for you,’ how much they love you and need to spend time with you, how you are their rock and ‘soulmate,’ making you feel both loved and coerced to spend time with them,” Neo says. “They may even say things like, ‘let’s run away to new city/country to start a new life’ which sounds romantic when in essence they want you far away from your support system.”
It’s healthy and normal to set boundaries in a partnership, and a good partner should never cross them. If your partner often tramples all over your limits, that’s a sure red flag that they’re abusing you emotionally.
“Boundaries are the Hell No’s in our lives; standards are the Hell Yes’,” Neo says. “Breaking boundaries starts very insidiously, for instance by being late for three hours without telling you. Then if you call them out, they’ll tell you-you’re crazy.”
10. They might justify rude behavior saying they’ve had a bad day
Emotional abuse is difficult to recognize, but it can be made even more complicated by the fact that abusers try to justify their behavior by saying they have good and bad days.
“‘The Good Day’ is the aftermath when they apologize after the abuse,” Neo says. “Because they are not ‘all bad,’ you think ‘I could live with it’ — otherwise known as intermittent reinforcement… You think, ‘If only every day could be like The Good Day,’ and you trade walking around on eggshells for an… attenuated version of The Good Day as time passes.”
If you detect most of or all of these signs of emotional abuse that might be a warning and you should really do something about it.
You should also remember that if you’ve been a victim of emotional abuse for a long period, it could take you more time to overcome the consequences of it.