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What are SIgns of Emotional Abuse?
To put it simply, anything that makes you feel bad about yourself is an assault. Constant, habitual or repeated assaults, is abuse. Emotional abuse can, unfortunately, be perpetrated by anyone. A stranger can assault or abuse you anytime, but the differences in the attacks coming from a stranger as opposed to your spouse, can be measured in your self esteem. Abuse is most devastating when coming from a source of "unconditional love", and can result in you actually believing the abusers words are true or that you deserved it. Even though your abuser can be either male or female, he is used below for simplicity.
He routinely calls you derogatory names, yells or curses at you. He habitually humiliates you or constantly puts you down, even worse if done in front of your family or friends. He lies or hides information from you, even about petty, insignificant things. He cheats on you, be it physically, emotionally or online. It is cheating even if you're not legally married; if you're in a committed relationship it's still considered a form of emotional abuse. He ignores you feelings, or he withholds affection or attention from you in order hurt you. He manipulates, or attempts to manipulate your feelings. He blames you for his anger, outbursts, or actions; for example, "If you listened to me and did what you were told I wouldn't have to hit you."
He threatens to harm you, himself, your family or your friends, if he does not get his way or if you try to leave him. These threats frequently come as a warning type statement as in, "you need to be careful because you never know what might happen to you." He frequently acts cold towards you and is not supportive or helpful of your dreams and desires. He pressures you against, or outright forbids you from seeing and talking to your friends and family. If you do see or talk to someone that he disapproves of, he gets mad, sulky or attempts to "get even for your act of betrayal." He makes decisions for you, orders you around or pressures you with guilt or threats. He refuses to help with the children or the house and acts extremely jealous of everyone or anything that takes time away from him; which frequently include your children. He takes your money or keys to prevent you from leaving the house. If you are allowed to leave, he follows you and checks up on you, at work, home or play. He gets mad if you're not home when he calls and accuses you of cheating, trying to leave or plotting against him. He usually refuses to let you work or causes problems at your job.
It should also be noted that abusers have a fighting style all their own, and below are a few of the tactics that they generally use. He makes generalizations in an argument; as in "You never help me with the dishes", or "I always do all the housework". He gives you impossible or unwanted choices when you don't want the same thing; such as "Either we have sex now or I'll go find it elsewhere." He makes wild predictions to scare you into staying; like saying "If you leave me you'll never see your kids again." He makes personal attacks against you to distract from the issue; if you ask a question he can't answer, he'll simply reply "If you weren't such a tramp I could trust you to go to the store." He asks loaded questions, which are really accusations in disguise; for example, during an argument he will ask "why are you always such a brat?" He will intentionally pick fights on minor issues to avoid fights that he will lose. Case in point, after coming home at 3 am, he instantly starts yelling about the dishes in the sink; that way the argument is off of his coming home so late and on to you.
The more of the above sign that you have in your current relationship, the more harmful that this relationship is on your well being. If you live in fear that your spouse, or other loved one, will harm you, you need to get away now. However, if this is a relationship that you are trying to salvage, the perpetrator needs to admit that there is a problem and that they need help. After that a trip to a certified marriage counselor with experience in domestic violence is in order, for both of you individually and, perhaps together.
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