Emotional abuse is a highly used but also misunderstood term. Unlike physical abuse, which is quite simple to understand, emotional type of abuse is less easier to understand. In fact so many people go through it without even knowing that they are being abused.
Before we get into what this kind of abuse is, let’s talk about what it is not. Breaking up with someone is not emotionally abusive and neither is to arguing with your partner. When someone feels hurt because of something you did, it doesn’t mean that they are manipulating you emotionally. Someone is also not abusive if they speak their mind with blunt honesty.
What is Emotional Abuse?
This is the attempt to control someone emotionally. Physical abuse and emotional abuse are similar in that the abusers are both trying to control their victims.
The difference is that while physical abuse includes hitting, grabbing, pushing, kicking, or other physical forms of harm someone who is emotionally abusive will use emotion to abuse their victim. They control your mind.
In most cases, the emotional abuser is not aware that they are abusive just as the victim is likely unaware that they are being abused. The abuser will normally think that what they are doing is the best thing for their partners.
Signs Of Mental Abuse
There are a number of behaviours that will let you know when someone is subjecting you to mental abuse. These include:
1. They intimidate and threaten you
An emotionally abusive partner will normally use subtle intimidation such as shouting at you, being aggressive with you or simply make you feel scared of them. They are so subtle that at the beginning you might not even notice it.
They might also keep threatening to harm you physically if you don’t do or behave as they want you to. Others will threaten to leave you all in a bid to make you feel small and prevent you from standing up for yourself.
A mental abuser will never take responsibility of their actions or choices and will always blame you for their problems and misfortunes. You feel so guilty all the time that you want to do everything you can to make them feel better.
2. They criticise you all the time
If your partner is always calling you names, making sarcastic or unpleasant comments about you or humiliating you then you have a reason to get worried. Emotional abusers will always criticise everything you do and try to put you down.
This is a popular tactic that they use to bring your self esteem down. You begin to feel like you’re not good enough. They never appreciate anything you do and are always comparing you to somebody else.
The more your self esteem goes down, the more you hate yourself and the more dependent you become to your abusive partner. Sometimes you may notice it and even try to stand up for yourself but they will brush it off as just joking and dismiss you as being too sensitive.
3. They will undermine you
Emotional abuse may take the form of undermining your opinions. The emotional abuser will also make you doubt your own opinion and make you feel as if you are being oversensitive or taking things out of hand.
This might get so bad because some people will actually dispute your version of events making you feel as if you are going crazy and you start doubting your own sanity.
4. They make you feel guilty about everything
Some emotional abusers will blackmail you emotionally and make you feel guilty about everything. They cheat on you and blame you for making them do it. They stay out too late, they blame you for it.
They hurt you and then punish you for it by sulking or giving you the silent treatment as a tactic to manipulate you to overlook their mistakes.
5. They abuse you economically
Some partners will not want you to progress economically so that you’re always financially dependent on them. And when you are dependent on them they decide how you should spend every coin that you have.
Financial control is the most popular control tactive of an emotionally abusive partner. They prevent you from getting a job so that you are not independent enough to make your own choices.
6. They dictate what you can and can’t do
Emotional abusers will want to be in control of what you can and cannot do. They will tell you what you should or should not wear, pick your friends and even limit your social events. They get very cruel when you do anything that they don’t consider right.
They will monitor all your movements and even want to see whom you have been calling or chatting with on your phone or social media accounts.
7. They make you doubt yourself
We all doubt ourselves sometimes because no one is perfect. However, when someone is emotionally abusing you they lie to you deliberately so that they can confuse you and make you doubt your own perceptions especially about yourself.
They will argue with you and wear you out so bad that you start doubting your own version of the truth and begin to believe them. Sometimes they will straight out deny what they did even though they know you know the truth.
They will attack your intelligence and good sense so much that you start feeling stupid and right from wrong. They will make their own intelligence and good sense superior to yours that you depend on them to make all the decisions.
8. You are always feeling like you’re walking on eggshells
When you’re dealing with an emotionally abusive person they make you feel anxious all the time. You are afraid to do or say anything around them because you are afraid you will set them off.
Whenever you’re around them you feel uncomfortable and you’re always afraid that you will provoke them, make them angry or disappoint them. So you coil and keep to yourself. You are always withdrawn when you’re around them.
How to Deal with Narcissistic Abuse
Emotional abuse creeps up on you and it may take you a while and lots of damage before you finally figure out that you’re being abusive.
Once you realise that you’re going through narcissistic abuse you need to deal with it as soon as possible to avoid further damage. Here’s how to do it:
1. Take control
The first step is to take control of your life back. The best way to do this is by walking away from the toxic person. By walking away you are able to get back to your emotional stability from a place of power without any fear.
2. Set boundaries on how to deal with disagreements
If you don’t walk away from your partner and you believe that your relationship can be salvaged, then you need to set boundaries. Come up with boundaries on how to deal with criticism and disagreements. Lay down rules to communicate openly with any personal attacks but in a manner that encourages dialogue.
3. Decide what you are willing or not willing to do
Have a clear limit on what you can and cannot do for your partner. Don’t do things just to keep the peace but stick to your personal well-being and integrity. Learn how to stand up for yourself and be assertive with your decision.
4. Go for therapy
Sometimes it’s not easy to deal with situations by ourselves. Allow yourself to seek help. Talk to your partner about couples therapy and encourage them to join you.
5. Kick anxiety in the butt
At this point you’re probably suffering from anxiety and completely stressed out. This is not good for your health and even peace of mind. So make a decision to fight anxiety.
When it comes to emotional abuse always put your well being first no matter how much you care about the other person. It may not be physical but it also causes as much damage to victims and you should never feel forced to stay in an abusive relationship.
Have you suffered from emotional abuse or know someone who has? How did you first know you were being abused? Let us know in the comments section!