A lot of relationships nowadays have been romanticized to the extent of naivety, and by doing so, the line between a ‘rough patch’ and downright abuse has been more blurred than the sight I have to endure when I lose my glasses. Consequently, it’s not that much of a shock that the red flags we draw aren’t taken on a serious level unless the abuse we undergo is supported by bruises. After all, society does have a leaning towards ignorance when it comes to mental health. But the truth is, emotional abuse is just as atrocious and toxic as physical abuse, if not radically more.
What is emotional abuse, anyway?
It is a form of abuse defined by a person exposing their partner/friend/anyone on the other end of that spectrum to behavior that results in psychological trauma, such as anxiety, chronic depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Like all shapes of abuse, this one is used to dominate and control the other person. Most of the time, neither the abused nor the abuser are aware of what’s taking place, because the signs are too subtle, and it’s because of that that people tend to belittle this kind of maltreatment. However subtle and quiet the emotional wrongdoing of that relationship, be that as it may, psychological damage is not subtle at all. It settles within your bones and starts to gradually, yet drastically, wreck your mental health.
Granted, we’re a kin with a habit of developing coping mechanisms. Which explains why the victim is almost always keen on renouncing the idea of being a victim rather than facing the problem, seeing as denial is the perfect archetype for a coping mechanism. An unhealthy one, sure. But one that helps them cope with the situation nonetheless. It still spirals out of their control, considering they begin to question the reality of what’s happening—Is it all in my head? Is this as bad as I think it is? Am I being dramatic? Maybe this is normal, I mean, everyone has their bad days and their flaws, maybe we’re just going through a stressful phase, etc—and quite sadly, they’re prone to believing the excuses they make up inside their heads than to believe their partner is deliberately hurting them.
Regardless, as harsh as the unvarnished truth is, no one’s flaws are supposed to ever make you feel this drained and doubtful. No one’s flaws are supposed to be this toxic. And the sooner you realize that, the sooner you decide to walk away, and the easier it is to detoxicate yourself and heal.
If you’re unsure of whether or not you’re in an emotionally abusive relationships, here are the signs:
- Humiliation, whether it’s putting you down in front of people or just in front of yourself.
- When speaking up of the abuse and how you’re feeling about it, they call you ‘over sensitive’ and completely dismiss your complaints.
- They regularly disregard your ideas and opinions.
- They use sarcasm to make you feel bad about yourself.
- They try to control you, whether it’s by your behavior, by threatening, manipulating or financially.
- They chastise your behavior.
- You no longer feel like you are your own person, you lose your independence and you always feel like you need to ask for permission to make decisions or go out.
- They trivialize your achievements, hopes and dreams.
- It’s always their way or the high way, they’re always right and you’re always at fault.
- They regularly point out your flaws and mistakes.
- They accuse you and blame you for things that aren’t true.
- They always make excuses for their behavior, have difficulty apologizing—if they ever do—and a tendency to point a finger at everyone but themselves.
- They repeatedly cross your boundaries.
- Verbal abuse, like calling you unpleasant names.
- They’re emotionally distant most of the time.
- They resort to being emotionally withdrawn when they want your attention or just want you to do something.
- They don’t show empathy or compassion.
- They’ve got a tendency to victimize themselves and blame you for their faults.
- They abandon you as a form of punishment.
- They neglect your feelings.
- They withhold sex as a way to manipulate you.
- They view you as an extension of themselves rather than an individual.
- They don’t care about your privacy at all. Instead, they share your personal information with others.
The realization of the tangibility that you’ve resigned yourself to emotional abuse is moreso the most difficult and terrifying step of all. Because for a long time, denial has done nothing but sugarcoat ever scenario you’ve underwent, tricking you into thinking that everything is okay or that they’re bound to become better, but once awareness settles in, you feel everything tumbling down at once.
But there are cases where people were willing to fix the relationship instead of terminating it. The success of that, however, depends entirely on whether or not both ends were willing to fix it. You can, while not that highly advisable, give out the chances you need to stop the abuse first before stopping the relationship. But if the abuser refuses to change, then that’s that. You have to put yourself first, put firm boundaries, don’t engage in any arguments, stop over explaining yourself, stop thinking that any of this is your fault and for the love of everything and anything, please don’t convince yourself that you’re capable of fixing them when it fails; they’re human beings, not broken cars on the side of a highway.
For your sake, stop, reach out for help and support to leave this all behind. You deserve to feel safe and loved, you deserve a lighter chest and a love that leaves you euphoric… not this.