If you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, would you know it? Would you dismiss it as no big deal?
Emotional abuse doesn’t leave any visible external scars, but the effects of emotional abuse can be more severe and longer lasting than healing from a physical trauma.
Being emotionally abused by a partner or date mutilates your self-esteem, lowers your self-worth and reduces what you require in a partner. It will make you question yourself, question your sanity and to think that you have no other options. It can also cause the domino effect of attracting bad people into your love life over and over because you no longer feel that you’re worthwhile. Let me be frank…you ARE worthwhile, and being with an abuser of any kind is not worth it, no matter what.
Today, I’d like to make everyone aware of what emotional abuse is, so you can spot it, and provide a way for you to evaluate if you are in an emotionally abusive situation.
So, how do you define an emotionally abusive relationship? It’s when one partner tries to control the other by:
- Undermining his or her confidence, worthiness, growth, or trust
- “Gaslighting” – making him/her feel crazy or unstable
- Manipulating him/her with fear or shame.
It’s important to note that emotional abuse is not only direct and verbal. All of the above can be implied with sarcasm, irony, or mumblings and can be communicated with body language, rolling eyes, sighs, grimaces, tone of voice, disgusted looks, cold shoulders, slamming doors, banging dishes, stonewalling, cold shoulders, etc. There are a myriad of ways to be emotionally abusive with a partner. Please take it seriously, don’t ignore or just tolerate this kind of treatment.
Some people are very clear that physical abuse is a deal-breaker…but that same person will then spend years allowing themselves to be emotionally abused. They wouldn’t let someone give them a black eye or break their arm, but will let someone beat your self-esteem to death, to choke your self worth and tear down your confidence. There is no good reason to tolerate this kind of treatment – certainly not fearing being alone. Seriously folks, partners are like taxis…another one will ALWAYS drive by. Really.
According to an article by Steven Stosny, Ph.D in Psychology Today, emotional abuse can be perpetrated by both men and women. An emotionally abusive man controls his partner by manipulating her fear of harm, isolation, and deprivation; he threatens or implies that he might hurt her, leave her, or keep her apart from the things she loves. He often mocks her appearance, choices, preferences, etc. An emotionally abusive woman controls her partner by manipulating his dread of failure as a provider, protector, lover, or parent: “I could have married a man who made more money, I had more orgasms with my last boyfriend, you’re not a real man, and you don’t know the first thing about raising kids.”
Interestingly, the more you experience this kind of fear, the more sensitized to it you become. So, the more you allow yourself to be treated this way, the more “normal” you begin to think it is. However, this “normal” causes you to be hypervigilent – you’re more likely to be highly aware of what the abusive partner is doing and try to prevent it from happening. In addition, while physical abuse is usually cyclical, emotional abuse usually happens every day of the relationship. And the person being emotionally abused usually thinks that they are causing the other person to treat them in this unacceptable way or that they somehow deserve to be treated this way. Please realize that there’s nothing you can do to prevent or stop this kind of treatment – you could be absolutely perfect and it would still happen. That’s because it’s all about the abuser – this is their pattern. Nothing you do can change it. It’s who they are. If you are in a situation like this, the most important thing you can do is to realize YOUR patterns:
- What in your past has taught you that it’s ok to be treated this way?
- Why are you staying?
- Why are people who treat you badly allowed in your life?
Are you wondering if you are or have experienced emotional abuse? Take the Walking on Eggshells quiz.
Have you ever been in an emotionally abusive situation or are you in one now? Do you have a situation you think might be abusive, but you’re not sure? Post here and let’s talk about it…