Millions of people think that if they are not being physically abused by their partner, they arent being abused in any sense of the word. Unfortunately, accounts of emotional abuse are significantly higher than those of outward violence and can cause deeper wounds and emotional conditions than any other type of abuse. One of the reasons is because it often is silent, undermining and secretly skirting the surface of the relationship which makes it difficult to recognize, diagnose and understand. Most of the people, men and women who are emotionally abused are led to believe that they are just crazy, insecure, imagining things or making mountains out of mole hills. This can further the psychological damage and make the wounds even deeper.
The signs of emotional abuse are also often easy to pass over as ‘personality flaws.’ For instance a partner who constantly controls the beginning and ends of discussions or arguments is teetering with ideals of abusive behavior and is using manipulative measures to control and undermine their partner. They may use name calling or sensitive issues to ‘shut you up’ so to speak. Other signs are being in a relationship where you feel you have no control or power over things. You may feel fearful of making decisions or be forced to hide simple items like purchases. You may not lie to your partner, but with hold information as a method of not starting arguments. One way to decide whether you are being emotionally abused is to answer these questions. Yes to more than one may mean that you are being victimized.
- Do you feel like you can not be ‘your self’ around you partner for fear of criticism?
- Are simple things like your choice in music often ridiculed or made fun of?
- Does your partner often act passive aggressive (being mad but pretending they aren’t)?
- Are there limits to what resources you can access such as friends, family or money?
- When you are with other people does your partner seem ‘irritated’ or often accusatory of what you have been doing?
- Is your relationship based on extremes of emotion? For instance are you either very in love or very distant with no middle ground?
- Do you ever feel obligated to do things, such as have sex just out of fear that your partner will become angry?
- Do you feel a sense of ‘doom’ when you know your partner is coming home?
- Are you a different person around your partner than you are around others?
- 10. Do you often make excuses for the behavior of your partner, such as tell others he/she is temperamental or moody?
- 11. Do you feel depressed in your relationship?
- 12. In arguments are you often ridiculed or put down?
- 13. Is your self esteem suffering because of your relationship?
As you can see from these questions, emotional abuse is often about being denied the opportunity to grow as a person and be confident in whom you are. A partner may feel that by putting you down or keeping you in certain undesirable situations that they are maintaining a power of you. If you ever tried to leave you would likely be met with an indignant attitude of ‘who would want you anyway’ and a lack of emotion from your partner. This is only intended to further damage your self confidence and is the main reason that emotionally abused men and women stay for so long.
In so many ways, it would almost be easier to just be hit. At least then you can see and feel the damage. Emotional abuse is different and is much like a faucet left dripping. At first its not big deal, just a little water. But eventually the water becomes a puddle and the water bill becomes astronomical to the point where you can’t pay it off. For men and women who are emotionally abused, it starts out easy and sneaks its way into the relationship. As more time passes the undermining and criticism becomes a puddle of depression that can drown you.
For many years there was no recourse for emotionally abusive relationships. You couldn’t just show up in divorce court and say you are being picked on. Emotionally abusive people are very specific in their behaviors and have a powerful intuit into their mates that facilitates their meanness. It is very much like being bullied. However, things have changed and the United States Department of Justice has actually defined emotional abuse. Further more, agencies targeting family health and happiness have begun to campaign the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse which can range from torment and control to manipulation and psychological aggression. While it may be normal from time to time for people to want to have control over another person it isn’t or shouldn’t be a way of life.
Another interesting fact about emotional abuse is that men and women split the log evenly. There are many men emotionally abused by women as the other way around which is unlike physical abuse. The problem still lies in the fact that it is difficult to pinpoint. If you are emotionally abused chances are your friends and family knows it. Chances are you even know it at some level but live with nagging fear that makes it difficult to move on. The reason is simple. Emotional abusers want and fanatically bank on the fact that they will keep you so limited with security and means for the sheer fact that you won’t move on. This is the obvious reflection that the abuser is the one with the problem.
If you are emotionally abused, you have to learn or relearn how to stand up for yourself. You have to get to a spot where you can find your own strengths again and be confident enough to actualize your future. Your first step may be the recognition that you are a victim. Your second step is to work on your self a bit. Much like a body builder starts out with low weight, you have to do the same until you become strong enough to lift the barbell and make a positive move. Start journaling, see a counselor, talk with friends and slowly but surely dig yourself out. Then you can face the bully head on and make changes in your life. Sadly, if you are being emotionally abused, you can bet that your children will be one day as well. This type of behavior is learned and progressive as well as planned and practiced. For the person doing it, it becomes a game that they are invested in as a means of staying in control. Take care of your self for a while and then do what you need to do to save your psychological health and happiness.