Abuse is defined as any behavior that is designed to control another human being through the use of tactics such as fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion and manipulation. While emotional abuse doesn’t leave outward scars, it can be just as damaging on the inside. Many people in an emotionally abusive relationship feel like they are not being hurt physically, so they are not being abused. But emotional abuse can seriously damage emotional health, causing clinical anxiety, depression, a skewed view of self-worth and an extreme lack of self-esteem.
Emotional abuse is often more psychologically harmful than physical abuse, as victims are more likely to blame themselves. The road to recovery from emotional abuse is a long one, but the first step is to recognize an emotionally abusive relationship, and get out.
You might be in an emotionally abusive relationship if:
- Your partner constantly embarrasses you on purpose in front of other people.
- Your partner criticizes everything that you do, constantly points out your flaws and makes you feel like you can’t do anything right.
- Your partner tells mean, inappropriate and demeaning jokes, with you as the punch line.
- Your partner tries to control every move you make and every word you say.
- Your partner constantly reminds you of your failures and flaws, eager to make sure you know “what’s wrong with you.”
- Your partner could care less about your feelings, and often tells you that you’re too sensitive or your opinion is just wrong.
- Your partner dismisses you or gives you disapproving looks that make you afraid or nervous to be alone with him or her.
- Your partner shows no affection toward you or withholds affection as a form of punishment when you do something he/she doesn’t approve of.
- Your partner constantly belittles you and tells you that your dreams, goals and accomplishments are stupid or insignificant.
- Your partner shares your secrets or your private moments openly with others, knowing that’s not what you would want.
- Your partner thinks you are incapable of most things, and knows what’s best for you.
- Your partner blames you for his or her problems, bad moods and overall unhappiness.
- Your partner is incapable of laughing at weaknesses or mistakes, and gets extremely angry if others are laughing at those weaknesses or errors.
- Your partner makes you feel guilty about wanting to see your friends and family, or going anywhere on your own.
- Your partner makes you feel like you aren’t good enough for him or her; your partner says he or she could do better, and you should be thankful to be in the relationship.
- Your partner insists on always being right and doing things his or her way, because you are always wrong.
- Your partner makes subtle threats that might be disguised as a “suggestion” to help you.
- Your partner controls the finances in order to control your actions and monitor how much money you spend and what you spend it on.
- Your partner constantly calls, texts or even shows up to check up on you to see who you are with and what you’re doing when he or she isn’t around.
- Your partner accuses you of things that aren’t true, then forces you to “prove” your love.