Have you ever wondered if you’ve suffered emotional abuse?
The American psychological association defines emotional abuse as a pattern of behaviour wherein someone repeatedly and deliberately harms another’s mental health and overall well-being through non-physical acts.
“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Emotional abuse is harder to spot than physical abuse because the psychological markers of it are made less obvious, so here are seven warning signs of emotional abuse.
7 Signs of Emotional Abuse
Overly critical of you
Have you ever been overly criticized in a relationship by a friend, family member or romantic partner?
Did they make you feel like you couldn’t do anything right?
In an emotionally abusive relationship, the abuser repeatedly insults you even after you’ve asked them to stop. They hold you to impossibly high standards and then depreciate you. When you don’t measure up to those two high standards they might often swear or yell at you, even when outside of an argument.
They use critical or threatening words to make you break down or begin to doubt yourself.
Intentionally Humiliate You
Has an emotional abuser ever intentionally embarrassed you or made you feel ashamed?
Have they said things to you like I’m the only one who could ever love you or you’ll never find someone as good as me?
Emotional abusers may use humiliation as a tactic in ways like degrading comments about your appearance, intelligence or personal success.
Small insults and slights towards you can negatively impact your self-esteem when they constantly repeated back to you.
Emotional abusers will take advantage of this as a way to convince you to maintain your relationship with them. This is all a harmful tactic to keep you tied down to them.
Purposefully Intimidate You
Do you find yourself complying with the demands of a close relationship because you fear the consequences of disagreeing with the other person?
This is a sign that they hold the power of intimidation over you. It might look like unwarranted verbal threats and harassment towards you. These are the dangerous patterns of intimidation, that can also potentially lead to physical abuse.
Try to Isolate You
Has an emotional abuser ever isolated you from your friends and family?
This person will try to isolate you from the people who care about you. They don’t want others in your circle to pick up on the warning signs of abuse.
They might threaten to end the relationship if the other person expresses a desire to visit with the other person or block new friendly relations
Do they physically distance themselves from you or suddenly become emotionally unavailable?
This is another method of setting control over you through the power of rejection. When you’re unexpectedly cut off from their support, it stirs up a sense of insecurity and self-blame. When you’re isolated you’re also dependent on them for emotional support and when they grow cold towards you, it can leave you spinning.
Another example of this is called public rejection, where they ignore you in public or around friends and family as a form of punishment.
Does this person call you for every little problem?
Do they ask you for favours that you don’t feel comfortable doing?
The exploitation phase of emotional abuse is characterized by them reaching out to you only to use you. This kind of abusers do little for you in return and become emotionally unavailable when the tables turn, and you need them for something.
Harmful level of control
Has someone in your life, ever tried to control everything you do?
Maybe it was a helicopter parent or a partner in a relationship even though it may come off as, well-intentioned. It crosses the line when they start to micromanage your life and refuse to listen or talk with you about your personal goals.
At the End
Emotional abusers can make you dependent on them for any decision big or small. They’ll gaslight you, manipulate you and in turn leave you questioning your own judgment.
If you find yourself scared that making a seemingly harmless decision will anger the other person it’s likely that you’re dealing with emotional abuse in that relationship.
Knowing and recognizing the signs of emotional abuse is the first step to helping yourself if you’re in an abusive relationship. What’s important is to take action and get the help that you need and deserve.
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