You’re miserable, but are you being abused? Our 8 signs of an abusive relationship will help you see the truth.
Abuse is a very loaded word, and can mean different things to different people.
The type of abuse, the severity, and the way it’s inflicted can range from the obvious to the almost impossible to see.
Quite often the person being abused is the last to figure out what’s really happening.
There are many types of abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal, financial, and cultural.
Today we’re going to focus on two of these: emotional and verbal.
What is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse happens when your partner says things or does things that put you down, make you feel worthless, stupid, or childish. This does not mean that the first time they make you feel stupid that it counts as abuse (after all, we all do stupid stuff sometimes and calling someone out on it is not abusive).
What we’re talking about is a pattern of behaviour.
Do you know before he opens his mouth that he’s going to say something negative, berating you for the smallest thing, and making you feel like nothing you ever do is good enough?
If this is the norm in your relationship, it might be hard to see, but you might be in an abusive relationship.
KEEP in mind that abuse is more to do with the abused person’s perception than the abuser.
Especially with emotional and verbal abuse, sometimes these put-downs aren’t malicious; they’re just the only way your partner knows how to communicate. This doesn’t make it less wrong, but does mean you may be able to deal with it in different ways.
Signs You’re Being Emotionally Abused
Blame – Every problem with your partner, in your home, at your job, or with your kids is somehow your fault. Your partner takes no blame and accepts no responsibility, even for things that are clearly their fault.
Controlling Contact With Friends and Family – If your partner forces you to stay away from certain friends or your family, they may be trying to distance you from those who would support you. Of course it’s possible that some of your friends or family are legitimately negative influences on your life and your partner is trying to help you, so try and take a step back and see what’s really going on.
Jealousy – Some people are just naturally jealous, and others use jealousy as a means to control people. Regardless, it’s important to realize that jealousy is THEIR issue, not yours.
Of course some situations may make your partner legitimately uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t use their jealousy as a way to control you. [Read – How To Deal With Jealousy – The Best Advice Ever]
Lack of Trust – Trust is a KEY component of a healthy relationship. If you’re constantly having to defend your actions, convince your partner that you’re loyal, happy, or whatever the case may be, this will start to eat on you.
If you’ve already established a pattern of legitimizing his suspicions by explaining yourself, then stopping that will arouse even greater suspicion.
Even if you have in the past betrayed your partner’s trust (and therefore given them something to mistrust you on), living with that every day is too much to bear.
For your own sake you might consider leaving the relationship.
What Is Verbal Abuse?
While there’s some overlap with emotional abuse (and as the receiver it hardly matters where the line is), verbal abuse focuses on the verbal, written, and body language used by your partner.
Verbal abuse typically involves criticising, put-downs, and is generally demotivating. It’s hard to identify because the abuser will brush off any accusation saying they were joking, or that they didn’t mean it.
As the receiver continues to absorb the abuse, their self-esteem will be crushed and they’ll fail to recognize that they have the power to end the relationship, often suffering for years because they’ve convinced themselves it’s in their head or they don’t have any other options.
Signs You’re Being Verbally Abused
Criticism – Being told you don’t know how to clean, that you’re a bad mother, that your cooking is terrible, and that you’re not good enough at your job are all types of criticism that can weigh heavily on you.
The result is a lasting feeling of worthlessness that will be very hard to overcome.
Insults – Partners who constantly put down and insult you are being verbally abusive. Their motivation may be to make themselves feel better, to make you feel worthless and that you don’t have any options but to stay, or just because they’re cruel.
Threats – A threat that’s acted upon becomes a different type of abuse, but many people don’t go past the threatening stage. Threats can be of a violent nature, a sexual nature, a legal nature, an abandonment nature, or anything else that matters to you.
A threat wouldn’t be tolerated in any other aspect of your life, and shouldn’t be in a relationship either.
Yelling and Swearing – Is your partner’s go-to tool for a serious conversation yelling and swearing?
While some might not count this as verbal abuse, it’s a clear indicator that the two of you can’t communicate well and if you can’t find a better way to talk together it’s unlikely you’ll be happy in the relationship.
What to Do If You’re Being Emotionally or Verbally Abused
If you think it’s possible that your partner truly doesn’t understand how damaging their actions are, you can try having a serious conversation with them.
Hopefully there are no kids involved, and you have to make it clear that this issue is serious, it’s not a joke, and that, without a drastic change, it’s a deal-breaker for the relationship.
[Read – Why Relationships Fail – How to Make a Relationship Work]
GET HELP. So many people refuse to ask for help when they’re in an abusive situation. Unlike physical and sexual abuse, emotional and verbal abuse is much more abstract. Still, your friends and family should be your first stop.
Tell them what’s going on and how you feel. Emotional support will be very important at this point, even if they’re only telling you you’re right and that you deserve the help you need.