Have you ever wondered, “am I in an abusive relationship?” If you have, don’t just write it off as an irrational thought. Physical and sexual abuse are more obvious, but emotional abuse can be more difficult to identify. Some women don’t even know they’re being abused. Some women think they deserve to be treated poorly, but the truth is, you don’t! No one should ever have to live with abuse. Use this guide to recognize emotional abuse, and learn that you CAN do something about it.
Recognizing signs of emotional abuse
Think about your partner’s behavior and ask yourself questions about how he acts toward you. Does he overreact over small things, with anger and rage? Does he call you names or talk down to you to make you feel small or incompetent? Does he threaten you with violence, or does he react violently by punching walls, throwing things, or raising a fist to you (even if he doesn’t hit you)? Does he let you spend time with your own friends, especially males, or let you see your family freely? Does he dominate you in the bedroom, even if you ask him to slow down? Does he make you feel guilty or make you feel like everything is your fault, or that you deserve when something bad happens to you? Does he commonly do things to hurt you, then come back apologizing, but it always seems to happen again? Do you feel intimidated by him, or fear how me might react if you say “no”, or don’t do something the way he likes?
Manipulation, domination, using guilt as a weapon, blame, belittlement, threats of violence and violent reactions, overreaction, and control are just a few traits of a typical emotional abuser. If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, or displays any of these behavioral traits toward you, you are being emotionally abused. No one has the right to treat their partner this way, and no one deserves to be treated this way, despite what he tells you.
He’s lying to you
If he’s ever told you that you owe him, that you deserve this treatment, or that if you leave, you’ll never find someone else, he’s lying to you. Abusers typically target women who are submissive or have self-worth issues, it makes them easy to convince you that this is okay. He may try to rationalize or excuse his behavior, but there is no excuse for abusing someone. Some abusers will do or say almost anything to get you to stay with them. He can say things to attack feelings of hope, like “you need me”, or “you will never find someone else”. Or, he may bring out a “nice side”, like being overly apologetic or nice, or even resort to begging, to make you feel guilty for leaving, or to make you feel like he can change, or that he’ll never do it again.
He will never change
Despite what he tells you, an abuser will not change. Some women think they can “fix” or change an abuser, but they can’t. Even if he apologizes and begs you to give him another chance, it will only happen again. It’s an ugly cycle of manipulation that will only stop if you leave. Leaving may be easier said than done if you have strong feelings toward him, but it’s the only way to be free of abuse. You CAN be happy without him, you CAN find someone who will treat you right, and you DO deserve to be happy and free. Do not let him manipulate and control you into thinking otherwise.
For some women, leaving is easy. They just grab their things and go. But for other, more unfortunate women, getting away can be more difficult. They may be dealing with an extremely controlling or obsessive abuser, or they may have children with the abuser which complicates things a great deal. Do not feel guilty for taking the children away from their father, having children gives you all the more reason to get yourself and them away. Abusers raise abusers, even if you are the only person directly being abused. Your children witness it, and can either learn that it’s ok and normal, or they develop behavioral or emotional problems. To start, build yourself a support structure. Get in contact with your family or friends you can trust. Don’t pretend that everything’s OK. Let them know that you are being abused and you need help. Find online communities for abuse victims or support groups in your area and learn about all the ways you can protect yourself and get free. There are also phone hotlines for victims of abuse. If you have an obsessive or controlling abuser, clear your internet history to cover your tracks. Build a network of people who can help you in this situation, and make arrangements to leave.
Please don’t fear going to a women’s shelter or a shelter for abuse victims. They can really help you. Abuse victim shelters offer protection, counseling, and advice, and some shelters offer assistance with getting jobs, getting a car, even getting a home. These things can really turn your life around and change it for the better. So if you’re low on options, please consider finding a women’s shelter or abuse victims’ shelter in your area.
Cutting all ties
The most effective way to get away from an abuser is to cut all ties. This means getting a new phone number, mailing address, e-mail, blocking him on internet sites, no contact with his friends, – leaving no way for him to contact you. If he is able to contact you after you leave, this gives him the means to continue preying on you, making leaving – and staying gone – all the more difficult. He may try to convince you, even beg you to come back. For some women, going back can be like relapsing back into a drug addiction. It is just as dangerous to your well-being, so don’t give yourself the opportunity. You will be so much freer and now have the opportunity for a totally different life and unlimited happiness. Don’t be afraid to seek it and do what’s best for YOU!
Note: This guide is worded in a way that assumes the victim is female and the abuser is male. This is not always the case, male victims with female abusers are out there and it is just as severe. This article can also be applied to such a scenario, in every way. This includes having children with the abuser.