Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

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Every relationship comes with its ups and downs. We see this everywhere we look, within our friends’ relationships, with our parents’ relationships, and within our own. However, there is a difference between nit-picking over little arguments and insecurities and in being emotionally bullied and demeaned by your other half. There’s no two ways about it – An emotionally abusive relationship is harmful and toxic to you, and others around you.  They can severely effect your confidence, your independence, and your sensibility. Often it’s hard to see the harsh reality of what’s going on, you may not even be aware of the abusive nature of your relationship or be aware that you deserve much better.

Unlike physical abuse that causes physical pain and leaves visible markings, the signs of emotional abuse are not as apparent, but in my opinion, is a just as bad if not worse. In fact, a study conducted by Diana English and colleagues in 2015 shows that emotional abuse is as damaging to a person as both physical and sexual abuse. The study that followed 846 at-risk children over a 14-year period shows emotional abuse towards each other and by observation of emotional abuse between their parents showed increased levels of depressive behavior in the children, especially as time went on. You can view the findings in detail by following this link!  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740915000201

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Emotional abuse is so harmful because it affects how we think about ourselves. Instead of feeling accomplished being in a constructive relationship with someone who truly cares for you, you are filled with a sense that you are adequate for that person (even though it is not you who is the problem), as emotional abuse directly affects your self-worth to being loved. Emotional abuse comes in the form of actions, attitude and words that are meant to demean and humiliate. The victim feels confused, powerless and afraid. Interestingly, there have been many studies conducted that show emotional abuse occurs at the hands of men and women at equal rates. Here’s a link to just one of them (which I found most interesting during my research on this topic): http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(02)00514-7/abstract

The reason why I wanted to address this issue is because I feel that emotional abuse isn’t spoken about enough. Perhaps it’s because couples in trouble are too embarrassed or afraid to talk about it, or maybe it’s because the services for handling such issues aren’t as well established as they should be. Whatever the reason is, it is important to know that you are not alone in this kind of situation, because it is a lot more common than one would think! <3 So, I’m voicing it.

Here are my 23 Signs That You May Be In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship!

1. They tell mean, inappropriate and demeaning jokes that make you feel small. They often won’t even apologize for it after, and may even make it seem as though you are overreacting and shift the blame to you.

2. They constantly humiliate you in front of other people, even though they are aware that this upsets you.

3. They criticize your actions making you feel as if you can’t do anything right.

4. They want to be in control of everything including your actions, who you hang out with, where you go, etc….

5. They constantly remind you of your shortcomings and failures which can make you feel like you are resulting to nothing in your life. They may also convince you that your relationship with them is the only good thing you have going for you.

6. They do not value your feelings and often will tell you that you are wrong and that you are too sensitive. There’s no such thing as being too sensitive when it comes to being hurt.

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7.  They give disapproving and dismissive looks when you are with others or in public that leave you fearful and apprehensive of being alone with them.

8. They withhold displays of affection and sex as a form of punishment for behavior that they consider to be wrong.

9. They belittle your dreams and accomplishments. They may make you feel as though they are silly and unrealistic and that you are better off just doing what they advise you to do instead of your dreams.

10. They share your private moments, your moments of insecurity, and your secrets with others against your wishes. This could be as a means of gossipy behavior or simply because they want to belittle you or make you seem a little crazy.

11. They do not think you are capable of knowing what is best for you, and that they somehow know better.

12. They blame you for their problems, their insecurities, their mood deviations, and their overall unhappiness. You are often left apologizing and picking up the pieces, even if you’ve got nothing to do with it.

13. They can’t laugh at themselves and get silly with you, yet they get extremely sensitive when others make a silly joke about them.

14. They make you feel wrong or convince you that you are acting selfish for wanting to see your friends or do anything fun without them. They might get offended even if you ask to do something alone.

15. They are overly possessive over you. They may not want to leave your side when in public and firmly/aggressively flail you about when moving so that you go everywhere they go too.

16. They make you feel as if you aren’t good enough for them and that you should be thankful to be in the relationship.

17. They insist on always being right while you are always wrong. You can’t catch a break in any argument because you know your words will be twisted back on you and that you’ll end up apologizing and feeling defeated.

18. They make subtle threats that are disguised as a suggestion to help you.

19. They constantly call or text to check up on you, who you are with and what you are doing when you are not together. If you do not reply within a short time frame they become very nervous and demanding. They might even check up from others on where you were or who you were with, just to see if you were telling the truth.

20. They accuse you of things that are not true, such as being unfaithful, telling lies, or spreading rumors, so you are forced to prove your affection. This usually is just a means of them compensating for their own lack of security or confidence.

21. They undermine you for wearing clothes you like, suggesting that you are looking for attention or that you appear trashy/silly.

22. If you make an attempt to talk about the emotional abuse, they become quickly enraged and offended that you would even suggest such nonsense.

23. You constantly are afraid of doing or saying the ‘wrong’ thing. In other words, you are fearful of doing ANYTHING that will set them off.

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Emotionally abusive people are masters at manipulating the way we feel. We are not to blame. There is probably little that we can do to change the behavior or improve the relationship. Recognize it for what it is, abuse.

Since it is so hard to see destruction from the inside of a relationship, as a friend with an outside view we should be aware of abusive warning signs in the relationships of those we are with. It might take an outside eye to spot emotionally abusive behavior. If you begin to notice the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship, whether it’s you or someone you care about, try to reach out to that person or advise them to seek professional help. Just because the relationship isn’t violent yet, doesn’t mean it won’t escalate and you should get a clear understanding of the situation from someone trained to help everyone stay safe.

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For more information on emotionally abusive relationships, or any other kind of abusive relationship, this website might be insightful to you!

https://web.archive.org/web/20141120190029/http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/relationship-problems/emotional-abuse/

That’s all for now!

Love,

Sinéad xx

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