Domestic abuse comes in many forms: physical, emotional, psychological, and financial. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse may not be as visible and may be easier to ignore. Despite this, its effects can be just as damaging.
What is emotional abuse?
In order to recognize emotional abuse in a marriage, you need to understand what it is and what it entails. Emotional abuse is when a partner uses any words or behaviors that demean you, belittle you, control, punish or manipulate you in any way.
Verbal abuse is perhaps the most common form of emotional abuse. It is not often immediately recognized because the victim may not be fully aware of what is happening. The abuser may say something subtly or try to mask the words as a joke. Although this type of abuse may not be as obvious, it is still hurtful.
Other forms of verbal abuse are more obvious. Blatant criticism like telling a partner he or she is ugly, overweight, or stupid is demeaning and abusive.
Constantly undermining a partner and devaluing their worth is also a form of emotional abuse. If a partner makes you feel as though your thoughts and feelings don’t matter, you are a victim of emotional abuse.
Other Examples of Emotional Abuse
Many times emotional abuse is difficult to detect because the victim will try to brush it off.Besides name calling and devaluing a partner’s self-worth, emotional abuse can come in many other different shapes and forms.
Emotional abusers have no interest in what you have to say or what you think. They will effectively shut you down every opportunity they get. This means there is no room for conversation; only a one-way monologue.
If you are being emotionally abused, you may be constantly accused of doing or saying things you never did. Along the same line of thought, the abuser may also deny conversations or events, making you doubt your own reality. This form of control can make you feel as though you are going crazy.
In order to recognize different forms of emotional abuse, you need to understand that the abuser is using his or her words and actions as a way to control you. The first few times it happens you may think it’s just a fluke. If you pay attention, over time you will notice a destructive pattern that is taking its toll on you and can no longer be hidden.
Effects of emotional abuse
Emotional abuse can affect you both mentally and physically. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Low self-esteem
- Chronic pain
- Lower sex drive
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
If you feel as though you are suffering from any of these issues, it’s time to take action and stop being a victim.
What to do if you’re being emotionally abused
If you are being emotionally abused you don’t have to continue taking the abuse. There are steps you can take to regain your self-worth.
- Talk to a friend or therapist. You need to tell your story. Talk to a trusted friend to get their opinion. If you feel as though your friend will not be objective, see a therapist. He or she will not only listen to you but will give you an unbiased analysis as well as the advice on how to proceed.
- Confront your abuser. This may be tough, especially if the abuse has been ongoing. Confront your abuser and let him or her know that what they’re doing is not okay. Assert your self-worth. Using statements like, “I will not be talked to that way” or “I am not stupid (etc.)”, not only lets your abuser know you recognize what is going on but also that you won’t stand for it any longer. Also, try to have an honest conversation about what is happening and the need to change the situation.
- Find positive influences in your life. If you’ve been broken down by an emotional abuser, find positive influences in your life and things that make you happy. This will help the healing process.
As much as you may try and want the relationship to work, it takes the interest and effort of two people. Without that, the relationship may not be worth saving.