Emotional Abuse is not something which is easy to recognise. I was involved in an emotionally abusive relationship for five years in total, I was married to him and had two children with him. I did not realise at the time that the relationship was abusive. I thought we just had a ‘roller coaster’ of a relationship and there was so many ups and downs because we were passionate about the relationship an really loved each other. That is what he told me anyway………
Many people think someone in an abusive relationship is in denial, but in actual fact most do not realise there is a problem. They are not burying their head in the sand or covering up for them…..they just DO NOT relate themselves to being in an abusive relationship. Full Stop.
Abuse is usually something which is thought to be physical….something which can be seen….marks on the body for example. It is also important to remember that abuse of any type is not limited to a male abusing a female. Abuse happens in same sex relationships and some females abuse males. We need to learn to pick up signs of emotional abuse, whether this is for yourself or someone else. Emotional abuse is something which is more difficult to pin point as there are often no signs. At first things are great and then one day something happens but because you are hoping that this person is ‘THE ONE’ you are looking at them with rose tinted spectacles! You will justify their behaviour in your own mind with things like ‘they ve just had a bad day’ or ‘they are nice to me all the other times, they do not mean it.’ Every time you smooth over a situation and let your partner get away with the unacceptable behaviour the next time it is likely to be worse, it is a steady decline. The power they feel makes them want more and more. They will no doubt apologise, they may buy you gifts, take you somewhere nice to make up for their behaviour. Some will cry telling you how bad they feel… (this means that they are sorry….does n’t it?) HELL NO!!! You could not be further from the truth. They are simply manipulating you into feeling sorry for them, transferring the guilt on to you, and over time ‘chipping away’ at you, slowly unpicking your personality, stripping you of your charisma self-esteem and independence, simply so they can control you and you will be totally dependent upon them. They will suck out your ambition, crush your spirit and stamp on your feelings. They will rule you with an iron fist.
“This won’t happen to me” I hear you say……. THAT’S WHAT I SAID……But it happened to me.
I did not realise it, my family did not realise it (in fact he even managed to turn some of my family against me) and it was only thank you to a caring work colleague who one day took me to one side and said “This is emotional abuse, he is doing all he can to try and break you down….” That was the day when the penny dropped. That was the beginning of the rest of my life. So what are some of the signs of EMOTIONAL abuse?
1. THEY WANT YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION 24/7 This sounds great does nt it. When you first get together it is normal to want to spend time together. But if they drop all his friends and stop doing the normal things like their hobbies etc, your relationship may be going in the wrong direction. If you feel you do not have much time for yourself, or your friends or family, and feel that you cannot do the things you normally would do as you do not want to upset your partner then your partner is probably trying to control you. This may seem dramatic….but think to 6 months or so down the line, when you are constantly attached to each others hip, and your friends or family no longer invite you to do things as they know your answer will be ‘no’. How will you feel when you realise that the only person you have is your partner? Probably fine…..until something goes wrong and you feel lonely and stuck. Is this really how a relationship should feel? “I had a little boy when I met my ex, I did n’t realise at the time, but my partner was extremely jealous of my little boy and tried to push him out. He not only emotionally abused me but he emotionally abused my son too. that is something I find difficult to deal with and it has taken a long time for me to forgive myself. Luckily my son is growing up to be a good level headed young man, of whom I am very proud of. It could have been a very different story.”
2. THEY ACT LIKE A DICTATOR AND MAKE ALL THE RULES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP They do not want you to hang out with your mates, but it is fine for them to do what they want…..they will complain that they do not like your friends, saying they are a bad influence or are too slutty or they do not trust them. They hate your best friend (probably because they are trying to indicate your partner is controlling….). Does this sound familiar? How about this: They do not like the clothes you wear, always choose what you are doing, what you are eating, what you are drinking…. “My ex hated my best friend. He was very clever as he managed to turn things around so that I felt sorry for him and I ended up not seeing my best friend for over two years. I never fell out with her we just eventually lost touch. She was frustrated because all she wanted for me was to be happy and to be with someone who treated me right. I was so in love with him that I could not see the tree for the woods. Looking back he was always controlling, very clever and calculating and in the end I paid the price. Luckily my best friend and I are now back in touch and things are as they always were. We are always here for each other. We may not see each other from one week to the next, but we share a bond which has always been present from the day we first met at nursery at the age of just three years old. That bond will never be broken. The day we reunited we picked up from where we left off. I was lucky but many people would have lost that friend for good.”
3. THEY ISOLATE YOU FROM PEOPLE THAT YOU LOVE This related to the point above, but goes a little step further as it moves from telling you that they do not like your friends, family etc to then actually managing to stop you from seeing them. You will stop going out with friends so that they stop accusing you of cheating. You will stop seeing your parents to avoid you getting backlash from your partner because ‘you stayed too long’ or ‘you said something wrong.’ Your partner creates situations to try and force you to choose between them and your friends/family. You should be able to talk to and spend time with people you like without having to justify yourself. “My ex used to insinuate that my parents had said something horrible about me to them, such as “they say you are out of control” or “well that’s not what they ve said.” but would never elaborate, leaving me to stew. This allowed me the time to create whatever situation my brain wanted. It left me feeling like I could no trust anyone.”
4. THEY ‘RE TAKING AWAY YOUR FREEDOM AND NEED TO KNOW YOUR EVERY MOVE A really bad sign of an emotionally abusive relationship is if your boyfriend demands that you tell him details like where you are going, what you are doing and who you are with. He gets mad whenever you do something without telling him. If you do not tell them, then they will do all they can to find out. They cannot deal with not knowing! “My ex went so far as to check my phone and social media accounts, he would log in as me and response to message as if it was me. It was only when friends responded saying things like “What are you talking about?” that I would realise what they had done. My ex once even text a work colleague pretending to be me, saying something along the lines of “Great night last night, can’t wait to see you again.” The colleague asked me what was going on. Although it was extremely embarrassing I am so glad that he did, as I was able to prove the message was not from me as it was from another number (and it made no sense anyway as I was not with them the night before) but I also have a very good indication of who it was…..”
5. THEY USE THE SILENT TREATMENT TO PUNISH YOU An emotionally abusive guy will refuse to answer text messages, phone calls and e-mails when he gets mad at you. He won’t tell you the reasons that he is mad at you either. Instead, he’ll just disappear off the face of the earth until he feels that you have been punished enough. “My ex ignored me for weeks on end. We lived together and the atmosphere was unbearable. It was only once he could see I was at breaking point that he would then offer ‘an olive branch’, a cuddle, a kiss….but never a sorry. That was my job!”
6. THEY PUT YOU DOWN AND HURT YOUR FEELINGS “He would call me ‘fat’, ‘ugly’, ‘manipulative’, ‘horrible’, ‘bad mum’ etc etc, anything he knew that was important to me, he would pick at. I now know that he put me down so that he had control over me.” An emotionally abusive guy will accuse you of making a big deal out of nothing when you tell him he’s being hurtful. (Like my ex who always used to say ‘oh as normal you are making a mountain out of a molehill’, or ‘you are such a drama queen, get a grip.’) This type of person is so insecure of themselves that they need to lower your self-esteem to ensure that you always stay with them.
7. THEY ARE EXTREMELY JEALOUS….OF ANYONE IN PARTICULAR FRIENDS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX When you are out together, they constantly accuse you of looking at other people. They will accuse you of trying to make them jealous whenever you dress sexy. They do not let you wear sexy clothes like a little summer mini dress or (men) taking your top off to show your abs! “My ex used to tell me that I looked better without make up and did not want me wearing shorts or short skirts telling me I looked like a slut.”
8. THEY HAVE NO LIMITS Some emotional abusers are drug/alcohol dependent and will often put their addictions before you. This will bring out the worst in them and will often be when they are at their worst.
9. HE INSTILLS FEAR IN YOU Most healthy romantic relationships offer support and security. “I never felt secure and I never felt supported. This only made me try and get more affection from him by trying to please him more.” You should feel comfortable in being able to talk to your partner about anything without having to worry about what their reaction is going to be. whatever I discussed with my ex, he would turn it back on me so that I was the person who was at fault. “Why are you always playing victim!” Would be a favourite statement of his. You and your partner should be able to accept each other for who you are. If your partner instils fear by threatening or intimidating you to the point where you hesitate to do things without your partner’s approval, it is time to re-evaluate the relationship. I would in fact suggest ‘getting out’.
10. HE LOWERS YOUR SELF-ESTEEM What do you think when you imagine your favourite partner. Mine make me feel like I am the only woman in the world, they make me feel beautiful, they build you up, they hug you and make you feel loved. If they begin to make you feel like nothing, you start to doubt who you are and what you are worth, or being to feel like you have nothing to offer and are worthless, then your partner is not having the effect on you that they should and it is time to re-consider.
11. HE TREATS YOUR LIKE PROPERTY You know that it is time to end an emotionally abusive relationship when you no longer feel like you have any input in it. Your partner only cares about self-preservation and uses you to benefit himself or herself. There is no “we” in your relationship, it is solely based on the interests of one person. And we all know that that is not how things should work out.
12. ROLLER-COASTER RELATIONSHIP If there is never a constant in your relationship and you never know what to expect from it, it would be categorized as unhealthy. Although it is typical for couples to go through their ups and downs, cyclical highs and lows should not become a pattern. Once you get into a habit of severe fights followed by make ups, you will never gain stability. This erratic relationship can only result in lots of stress and heartbreaks. “From the start we used to argue and fall out, he would throw me out of the house, and then in a few hours we would make up. He would justify it by telling me that his friend had said ‘It is the day when you stop fighting that you should worry, as that is when you feel you have nothing to fight for.’ Another favourite: ‘It is only because we love each other so much that we argue.’
13. THEY USE GUILT TO GET WHAT THEY WANT “If I was ever due to go anywhere whether with friends or family, my ex would write me letters insinuating that he was going to harm himself then take off in his car. He would go missing for hours. He would nt answer my calls or texts and would often turn off his mobile, only returning after ensuring I had missed my prior arrangement or just beforehand telling me I could go, knowing full well I would not go as I was not ready and was too upset to do so. If it was ever brought up in a later argument he would tell me ‘well I told you to go!’
You are worth so much more.
Your life is valuable.
It is a gift.
It is your duty to grasp it with both hands.
Do not allow anyone to take this gift away from you.
Blogizing: What is a Healthy Relationship?