What Is Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse may also be called mental abuse or psychological abuse. Just because you are not being hurt physically does not mean that you are not being abused. Emotional abuse can affect you for years, even after leaving an abusive relationship. The perpetrator of emotional abuse wants to cause you harm as well as to control you. This can result in the victim feeling depressed, anxious, helpless, and also lead to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and/or substance abuse.
There is not a single consensus on what exactly constitutes emotional abuse. According to the United States Department of Justice, there are a few emotionally abusive traits. These include intimidation, forced isolation from friends, family, work, and school, destruction of property, destruction of pets, and threatening physical harm to oneself, the abused partner, children, and the partner’s family and friends. Other techniques they may use include gaslighting, insults, rejection, and degradation. The abuser will deny and minimize the abusive acts. While one act does not constitute emotional abuse, it is rather the overall pattern of behavior.
Emotional abuse can take place in intimate relationships, as well as family and work relationships. Both women and men can be the culprits of emotional abuse. Often, the emotional abuser will suffer from personality disorders like narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
You may be a victim of emotional abuse if the following statements sound familiar.
- You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner.
- Your partner overreacts to things, becoming angry.
- Your partner uses gaslighting techniques to make you feel like you are crazy so that you don’t trust your perception of reality.
- Your partner says mean things about you disguised as jokes.
- Your partner punishes you by denying you love, affection, and communication.
- Your partner acts like he is always the victim.
- Your partner makes you feel responsible for his reactions.
- Your partner isolates you from your friends and family.
- Your partner does not give you any sense of privacy.
- Your partner never apologizes yet you find yourself always apologizing, even if you didn’t do anything wrong.
- Your partner requires constant check-ins.
- Your partner threatens you and gives you ultimatums.
- Your partner buys you gifts as “proof” that he loves and cares about you to make you feel that the idea that he is abusing you is not valid.
- Your partner is manipulative and controlling.
How to Leave an Emotional Abuser
Leaving an emotionally abusive relationship is not easy. The victim typically feels very broken down emotionally and psychologically, and due to gaslighting techniques, will even question whether or not she is being abused. The abuser can make the victim feel guilty and as if the abusive behavior has been caused by her own actions. Additionally, the abuser may issue threats, such as suicide, if the victim decides to leave.
Start by reaching out to someone who can offer support. It’s very important to have a good support system in place because in the coming days, weeks, and possibly even months, you will question yourself and your version of events. Your ex will try to contact you and will manipulate you. Block his number and social media accounts, and if need be, change your number as well. If you were living with your abuser, gather your resources and your support system and make a plan to move yourself and your things out. It’s going to be hard, but you need to be committed to the breakup. Find a therapist and/or a support group. Finally, consider calling the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. Just because he isn’t hitting you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call. Their toll-free number is 1−800−799−7233.
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