Dec13

Are You in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

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by Hannah Kerns on December 13, 2012

A bruised ribcage, a fat lip, a black eye; these are pretty clear signs of physical abuse. But what about emotional abuse? Emotional abuse takes the form of verbal attacks that strip away someone’s self-esteem until they are left feeling worthless. But how do you know if your partner is emotionally abusive or not? Here are some warning signs that you could be in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Note: Both men and women can be perpetrators of emotional abuse. For the purposes of this article, the abuser is referred to as “he/him.”

Wild Chemistry

Behavior: When you first meet, he won you over with an impressive display of romantic gestures and words. In fact, Prince Charming was so secure in how he felt he declared his love for you immediately.

Why it’s a Red Flag: While love at first sight is a romantic notion, it’s not a reality. Abusers often use the “sweep ‘em off their feet” technique to ensnare someone before they have the chance to really evaluate the abuser. Be cautious of anyone who proclaims their love for you too soon; it takes time to get to really know, and love, someone.

You’re So Addictive

Behavior: He wants to spend every possible waking moment with you. If you make plans with his friends and family members that don’t include him, his feelings get hurt and he accuses you of not loving him as much as he loves you.

Why it’s a Red Flag: This is controlling behavior. You should never feel guilty about spending time away from your partner. In fact, he should support and encourage your outside interests. All healthy relationships need a balance between couple time and personal time.

He’s Jealous

Behavior: He keeps track of your every move. He needs to know where you are and who you’re with at all times. He’s convinced other men desire you as much as he does. He accuses you of flirting with any other men you come in contact with and repeatedly questions if you’re having an affair. When you’re not together, he constantly checks in on you via texts, IMs, calls, and Facebook.

Why it’s a Red Flag: Intense, unjustified jealously, is often an indication of low self-esteem, feelings of envy or insecurity, and other troubling emotional problems. His jealousy isn’t an indication of how much he loves you; it is destructive relationship behavior.

He Holds all the Power

Behavior: Your partner maintains complete control over everything. This can include, but isn’t limited to, when and how the bills are paid, how much money you spend, where you go, what you wear, what you eat, who your friends are and how much time you spend with them, when you use your phone and computer, and what the two of you do in your free time.

Why it’s a Red Flag: A trademark characteristic of abusive behavior is the need to control every aspect of your relationship and limiting your financial freedom and activities. You should never feel as if you don’t have a say in, or control over, the details of your life.

You Have No Privacy

Behavior: He insists you share social media accounts, ignores closed doors, listens to your phone calls, has access to all of your online accounts, opens your mail, and thinks it’s perfectly okay to read your journal.

Why it’s a Red Flag: This type of behavior is an indicator of someone who has trust issues. Requesting privacy from your partner does not mean that you intend to lie, cheat, or steal. Everyone has the right to privacy; you get to choose what you will and will not disclose to your partner.

Critics Corner

Behavior: He’s critical about everything you do. Whether it’s your weight, your hair or makeup, or how you chew your food, he always seems to have something negative to say.

Why it’s a Red Flag: These attacks will wear down your self-esteem. Someone who loves you will not criticize you for who you are, how you look, or how you behave. Never let anyone to make you feel bad for being yourself.

He has a Short Fuse

Behavior: He loses control and yells over minor things you say or do, breaks household objects, punches walls or uses intimidating gestures. He likely withholds affection, disappears for hours with no explanation as to where he has been, and gives you the silent treatment when you have upset him or “misbehaved.”

Why it’s a Red Flag: This threatening behavior will keep you in a state of fear, making you more susceptible to further verbal and possible physical abuse. There’s a thin line between verbal and physical abuse.

He Blames You for his Actions

Behavior: He consistently tells you how unbearable you are to deal with. He claims that if you were a better or smarter person you wouldn’t upset him and set him off so much.

Why it’s a Red Flag: You may start believing you deserve to be treated this way. Under no circumstances should you accept or believe that you deserve to be treated with anything than respect.

If you are in, or think you are in, an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s time to stand up for yourself. Talk to a trusted friend or family member. If you don’t have anyone you feel you can talk to, call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Have you ever been in an abusive relationship? What advice do you have for someone who may be in one?

Photo courtesy of thisreidwrites.