There is a common misconception that abuse has to be physical in order to be impactful. I have seen that some of the most devastating forms of violence do not leave scars. Emotional and psychological violence is often harder to endure because it is one where the wounds cannot be seen but are deeply felt. If someone gives you a black eye you can see that in the mirror but if someone devastates you emotionally that cannot be seen. It is often a lonely and devastating pain suffered in confusion, silence, embarrassment and isolation.
Emotional abuse can be identified as a set of behaviours in which a person manipulates, coerces, controls, belittles and terrorizes another person repeatedly. When there is chronic emotional abuse present it can take an incredible toll on the person it is directed at, often causing them to struggle with depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and when done over a period of time, it can create a sense of helplessness. In very extreme cases, long-term emotional abuse can cause symptoms of PTSD. Emotional abuse can be subtle or overt and often includes both forms. People who are being emotionally abused often do not recognize it as it will start out subtly and increase over time.
Emotional abuse can look like or include any or many of the following behaviours.
- Verbally assaulting and insulting the person, often under the guise of “joking.”
- Ignoring the person and emotionally withdrawing from them. Giving the person, the silent treatment for no apparent reason.
- Making cruel remarks towards the person regarding their appearance, personality, lifestyle, career choices, friends or any other aspect of the person’s personal, social or professional life.
- Calling the person names.
- Mocking, shaming or humiliating the person.
- Threatening the person or coercing them into activities they don’t want to engage in.
- Emotionally invalidating the person’s emotions.
- Subjecting them to overt and covert put-downs
- Rage attacks when they bring up topics they don’t want to talk about
- Using intimidation as a control tactic.
- Controlling the person’s finances.
- Micromanaging the person’s social life.
- Isolating the person from friends and family.
- Stonewalling and derailing the person during discussions.
- Gaslighting or convincing the person into believing that they are imagining things or are oversensitive when they attempt to stand up for themselves or call out the abuse.
- Flipping the conversation back at the person (I only did this because you did that)
- Repeatedly treating the person with contempt, scorn or disdain.
- Smearing the persons reputation, spreading rumours or gossip.
- Doing the hot and then cold, the back and forth (push the person away, then times of affection and contriteness)
- Often emotionally abusive partners lie pathologically
Many who suffered emotional abuse, whether they suffered it in childhood, adulthood or both, struggle with a sense of powerlessness as they are repeatedly put down. This if they do not get the assistance they need, may turn to self-destructive behaviour, they can become trauma-bonded to their abusive partners and falsely believe it is love and find it difficult to leave the toxic relationship.
Some Questions To Assist You In Discovering If You’re Being Emotionally Abused
Here are 25 questions you could ask yourself if you think you’re being emotionally abused in a relationship. These questions take into account the fact that you already suspect you’re being abused. Your answers to these questions can give you some insight regarding the emotionally abusive behaviours you might be currently experiencing, or help you to identify and assess the signs of abuse the toxicity in your relationship.
- Does your partner seem to enjoy humiliating you in public?
- Does your partner use your own insecurities against you?
- Does your partner treat you differently now than they did at the beginning of the relationship? Is the way you were treated in the beginning of the relationship unrecognizable from the way your partner treats you now?
- Are you persistently made to feel guilty for voicing your concerns or accused of being too sensitive when expressing your emotions?
- Does your partner shut down conversations about their behavior before they even begin?
- Is your partner nicer and more respectful to others in public than they are to you behind closed doors?
- When your partner gives you the silent treatment, do they usually blame you or do they continue to ignore you and then pretend like nothing ever happened?
- Do you find yourself questioning your own reality or sanity?
- Does your partner call you names when they don’t get their own way?
- Are you afraid to express your true feelings around your partner because of the way they react?
- Does your partner frequently compare you to others in a demeaning way or do they like to criticize you?
- Do you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells around this person, careful about what you say or do to avoid “offending” them?
- Does your partner have frequent rage attacks or outbursts?
- If you call out their behaviour, do they become excessively angry?
- Do you find yourself apologizing for things you’re not at fault for or for things your partner has done?
- How does your body react when you’re around your partner?
- How much time have you wasted trying to please your partner, only to realize that they are never satisfied with anything you do?
- Do you find that your partner discourages you more than they give you encouragement?
- Has your partner punished you for making independent choices?
- Have you ever felt limited or restricted to see your friends or loved ones?
- Does your partner ever make you feel guilty for not having sex with them?
- Do you stay with your partner, out of fear that they might harm you or harm themselves?
- Are you discourage from pursuing your dreams or goals?
- Does your partner insulted you and make you feel terrible, all while claiming “it was just a joke”?
- When setting boundaries are you told you’re just too sensitive or emotional?
This blogs is a way to begin checking in with the feelings you have been having that all is not right in your relationship and it is highly recommended that you seek assistance if this has created some confirmation or assisted you in seeing toxicity within your relationship. Some things can be overcome and others are too toxic or the partner is unwilling or unable to do the work with you. Please get the assistance you need.
What working with Nadine looks like?
- There’s no need to try to fit a specific therapeutic tool when you work with Nadine – your session is designed to fit you, not the other way around
- Gain incredible insights into yourself, others, and how your processing styles affect your personality, relationships, and communication using The PEP Personality Process
- Receive help resolving the ROOT causes of issues (not just the symptoms) so you can go forward with a better quality of life
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Nadine Hanchar helps individuals and businesses build better relationships, discover new choices, new perspectives, and create success. Nadine is a counsellor, consultant, speaker, and trainer with over 30 years’ experience helping others personally and professionally. She is a bestselling author and specializes in working with trauma, abuse, relationship issues, and communication.