It may be exciting or glamorous to watch movies like 50 Shades of Grey and write off emotional abuse as a novelty, a good story to tell your friends. The movie made the relationship seem easy to get out of and only slightly invasive to the woman’s life. But victims (men and women, alike) often suffer much more severely than the Hollywood story.
Emotional abuse makes victims feel devalued and full of self-doubt. Victims are often ashamed to admit abuse because they feel as though emotional abuse isn’t “real” abuse. Emotional abuse can traumatize individuals in the same way as any other form of trauma or abuse. At the upcoming Worldwide Transformational Summit, we will be focusing much on all types of abuse and how to transform ourselves away from trauma.
Below are some key indicators that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.
Abusers often rely on inducing guilt as a way to achieve control and power over their partner. It is common that victims don’t realize this is happening as their abusers tend to convince them that the blame is totally rational — even when it’s completely irrational. If you find yourself feeling guilty for your partner’s misfortune, bad mood, bad luck, or even for your happiness or independence, that is a sign of intentional guilt placing. Victims might develop a sense of guilt without the abuser placing blame.
- Silent Treatment / Emotional Distance
Abusers often turn to the silent treatment or distancing themselves emotionally when angry or upset with their partners. Often the silent treatment comes after they have had adequate time and opportunity to voice their anger or frustration. When the victim tries to apologize, console, or even defend her/himself, the abuser takes to silence. This is one way to invoke a sense of guilt in the victim, but also is common because they want to remain in control of the situation. Talking and explaining requires vulnerability and the chance to be deemed “wrong.” Staying silent maintains the abusers upper hand.
Controlling behavior can be found in a few ways. Sometimes, abusers try to control their partners’ time. Alternatively, they try to control interactions with friends and family. They can even try to control your behavior and identity (how you socialize, how you eat, how you exercise, individual habits, personal goals, etc.) Control can even extend to financial logistics. In many emotional abuse cases, abusers controlled their partners’ finances.
Blame is obviously often connected with placing guilt. However, it’s important to distinguish blame. Blame is specific and often irrational. As explained before, guilt doesn’t always mean explicit blame has been placed on the victim. Blame is very pointed and divisive. It places the victim at fault and in a position of repentance, and the abuser in position of power and authority. In most cases of abuse, blame often starts rationally and then expands to irrational and confusing blame.
- Threats and Ultimatums
Abusers often threaten their victims with ultimatums: “If you do x, then I will leave you.” Victims are constantly made to feel fear for the possibility of being left, neglected, or ignored. Additionally while emotional abuse is almost always present when physical abuse occurs, it is not always true for the reverse. Emotional abusers may threaten physical harm to their victims. An emotional abuser may never act on this threat, but use it as a way to induce fear and submission in you.
- Demean or disregard you — “you’re too sensitive”
Emotional abusers often belittle and disregard their partners. This can be as extreme as out rightly insulting partners or as subtle as constantly poking fun. Though it is subtle, abusers can maintain this constant state of poking fun or jokingly insulting in order to wear down their partners. This can happen privately, but often also happens publicly. Abusers ridicule and publicly disregard their partners to make them feel insignificant and of little worth. Often when it is seemingly “light hearted,” they will make the victims feel like they are just overreacting, and crazy or irrational for feeling offended.
- Lack of empathy or compassion
A big sign of emotional abuse that is often overlooked is lack of empathy and compassion. A healthy partner will listen, console, offer advice, and maybe even offer constructive criticism in a time of need. Emotional abusers often have a difficult time showing comfort and act as support for their partners. Often this is less of a choice and more because they do not understand how to empathize in another person, other than themselves.
- Chastise and Correct your Behavior
As a victim, it is very common to endure constant correcting and control of behavior. Abusers will often patronize or condescend to their partners, suggesting (or even explicitly stating) that who you are as a person, is not good enough or adequate. From correcting how their partners brush their teeth or wear their clothes, to how the partners should live their life, abusers seek to correct and control all behavior. When abusers feel ignored or disregarded, they often chastise victims for not following their instructions or “advice.”
A Pillar of Strength
Remember: you are strong, capable and worthy. Friends, families, loved ones, and support groups will always be there to help you as you make the necessary steps to move away from your emotionally abusive relationship. You are worth more and deserve more. For help, follow this link, the resources are not only for women.