Are you suffering signs of emotional abuse?
Are you suffering signs of emotional abuse and not aware of it? Do you minimise how badly you’ve been treated and become hooked into feeling sorry for the abuser?
When you’ve suffered abuse or abandonment you can internalise that there is something wrong with you and look for love in order to escape these feelings. The problem is you attract all you know, what is familiar and not good for you.
You can be drawn to those who reflect the way you feel about yourself and put up with things that are not good for you if you feel undeserving of real love.
If you beat yourself up emotionally you can subconsciously put up with a partner who also berates you. If you don’t feel good about yourself, you can be attracted to someone who doesn’t treat you well, because it resonates with the way you treat yourself.
You can repeat the pattern of pleasing an abuser in the hope to get the love you always wanted. The more you turn to an abuser to feel good enough, the more you end up not feeling good about yourself when they devalue the person you are.
So, what are the signs you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship?
You must comply or obey.
Does your partner expect you to meet all their needs, otherwise you get punished? You may suffer the silent treatment or verbal abuse if you step out of line.
Do they expect you to do what they say, meet all their demands, and take care of them? Do you get punished or abused for not toeing the line?
Do you feel you have no rights as a person and any attempts to assert yourself causes you to be punished in some way so that it’s safer to comply and give up on yourself to avoid the abuse?
They control you.
Indicators of an emotional abuser are often when your partner attempts to control you as a way to manage how they feel. They can control your behaviour to prevent themselves from feeling abandoned.
Are they extremely jealous and insecure when you talk to anyone, so much so that they monitor and control what you do? Do they take ownership over you, taking away your rights to have friends, go out, work or study? Do they threaten you or make you suffer in some way if you assert your rights?
Do they manipulate situations so that you can’t go out with your friends from time to time? Do they guilt you so you will be there exclusively for them?
When you go out with your friends, does your abuser punish you, so you stop making plans?
You’re to blame.
The person who is emotionally abusive can make you responsible for all their feelings, so they do not have to feel them.
You’re told that you are useless or can’t do anything right when you don’t do things their way. When you address their actual behaviour do they turn the blame on you as the cause of the problem, so they don’t feel exposed.
When they are envious, do they put you down so they feel better?
You are accused of things you haven’t done.
A sign of an emotional abuser is being paranoid and suspicious for no reason. Do they frequently accuse you of things that you have not done and make you pay for those things?
Are you being accused of cheating or not caring?
Are you being punished for their past hurts and forced to make up for those? Do they constantly misconstrue your behaviour so you end up the bad person and have to make it up to them?
You fear expressing yourself or walk on eggshells around their moods
Perhaps you’ve noticed that you’re losing yourself by appeasing them. You’re becoming increasingly miserable and unhappy by walking on eggshells around their moods.
You’ve lost sight of yourself.
Do you feel guilty or bad doing things for yourself? Have you slowly stopped expressing yourself for the fear of being reprimanded? Does it feel as though your needs do not matter?
Do you constantly think about how they will react and then adapt yourself to accommodate them?
Have you got into the habit of saying the things that they want to hear to avoid conflict, rather than being your real self?
No matter how much you do to please an emotional abuser, the more you placate them or give in, the more you become trapped in the cycle of emotional abuse.
You’re losing your own mind.
Do they question your perception of reality so that you doubt yourself and stop trusting your own thoughts?
Do they turn the problems around so that you are the crazy one or you are overly emotional, when they’ve mistreated you?
Are you starting to believe them by taking on their thoughts or projections? Maybe you’re blaming yourself as the problem, instead of separating yourself from what they say.
You give up your own self, thoughts and opinions because it’s easier.
They become malicious or vengeful to get their way.
You partner acts maliciously to punish you or get revenge on you when you do not accommodate their needs. Perhaps they threatened to leave you or take the kids away.
Have they ever gotten so angry that they deliberately set out to hurt you, causing you to suffer in some way?
You have no say.
Do they discount your views or feelings, as if those are not important?
Do they pressure you to take on their views, or do you feel beaten down until you submit to their tantrums?
Does it feel like the only option is to say nothing or to do what they want to avoid getting into trouble for something you haven’t done wrong?
When you offer them helpful advice, do they accuse you of attacking them or reprimanding them? Do they turn things against you, as if you are the villain and they’re the victim? Do they attack back?
They can’t let go of you.
Do they know exactly how to hook you back into the relationship, preventing you from moving on?
Do they financially control you or restrict your access to money so you cannot leave?
Do they socially isolate you so you will not leave? Do they turn you against your friends and family, so that they can’t be there to support you.
Do they put you down so you feel worthless and unlovable, in order to keep you from leaving?
Do they find a way for you feel sorry for them so that you stay and minimise the abuse you’ve endured?
Do you recognise these signs of emotional abuse?
These signs of emotionally abusive behaviour are attempts to cause you to suffer unless you meet the abuser’s needs. So that the abuser can end up escaping feelings within themselves.
Once they see that their abusive tactics get their needs met, it enables the abuse to continue. The more they get away with it, the more reward they get for the abusive behaviour.
Perhaps this emotionally abusive person has a way to draw you back into focusing on them, so that it is easy to appease them and lose sight of how you’re being treated.
Perhaps they can convince you that you’re the problem. Perhaps you do not see their actions as abuse, because they say that you are to blame for how they feel.
The truth is that the person who emotionally abuses seeks to control you as a way to escape feeling unworthy deep down inside.
In actual fact, the way your abuser tries to get their needs met is an attempt make you responsible for all their past wounds.
An abuser can shut out past feelings of childhood abuse so that no one else can hurt them again, by taking out their anger on you.
James Masterson describes the Talionic Impulse used by individuals, including those with Personality Disorders, as a way of repeating the abusive behaviour that was originally done to them by reacting towards the partner as if they had abused them. In this way, they take out revenge and punish those they perceive to have hurt them. The partner who triggers the pain is seen as being responsible for it. This causes the abuser to take revenge and punish them.
If you detect these warning signs of emotional abuse, then perhaps you’re in a relationship with a person who hurts you as a way to feel better about themselves. Inflicting abuse on you is an attempt to escape these abandonment feelings and feelings of self-loathing. It also controls you as a way to make them feel better. However, the abusive person must address their feelings and rebuild their sense of self, rather than making others responsible for their feelings.
What do you do if you spot the signs of emotional abuse?
You may notice these red flags of abusive relationships. Instead of focusing on changing your partner you can work on your feelings and change the way you feel about yourself. If you can have a more loving relationship with yourself, you allow people to treat you with love and kindness. You teach people how to treat you, and can teach people to respect you, if consider yourself as good enough.
If you detect these signs of emotional abuse in your relationship, you can get the help you need to find love within yourself, rather than looking for love in others. If you work on the part of you that beats yourself up or doesn’t feel good enough, you can change the way you feel about yourself and allow yourself to be treated according to your real worth. So you will not accept behaviour that is not good enough. You can attract relationships that are good for you, and build healthier boundaries to protect yourself from abuse.
As a relationship therapist, Nancy Carbone has a M.Soc. Sc (Couns). If you recognize signs of abuse in your relationships you can visit her website to make an appointment. You can sign up on her newsletter for free advice and tips
All content is copyright 2018 Nancy Carbone
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