Domestic violence can occur in any household. But it’s not just because people want to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s possible that you don’t realize that you’re in an abusive relationship. This is especially true when the abuse is emotional instead of physical. Psychological abuse is frequently overlooked or minimized, but it can leave lasting scars that are difficult to overcome.
Emotionally abusive relationships can slowly destroy your feelings of self-worth, and possibly lead to serious, long term mental health consequences – including depression and anxiety. Yet emotional abuse can also be hard to see. The first step to breaking free of an emotionally abusive relationship is to recognize the signs of abuse, and knowing when it has become a serious problem.
Subtle Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship
When people think of domestic abuse, they will often picture individuals who have been physically assaulted. But not all unhealthy relationships will involve bodily violence. In fact, there are many relationships where all of the abuse is mental.
Obvious signs of emotional abuse include verbal abuse such as screaming, blaming, name-calling, and shaming, but there are more subtle signs that can include:
- Dictating Your Personal Appearance
- Making You Feel as Though You Are Unworthy of Happiness
- Threats of Suicide if You Leave
- Refusal of Personal Privacy
- Sexual Manipulation
- Controlling Behavior
- Limiting Your Social Life
Emotional abuse can be seen in those that guilt you into action, criticize your every move, and make every decision for you, withholding sex, and more. Emotional abuse can also come from both men and women, and often not even the abuser realizes that they are being abusive because that is their normal personality in the relationship.
The aim of emotional abuse, whether intentional or unintentional, is to slowly chip away at your feelings of independence and self-worth. Many individuals who are experiencing an abusive relationship do not feel as though they can leave the relationship, or focus too heavily on the good because they don’t recognize that the “bad” is abusive. They may feel as though they have nothing except for their current partnership, or they may internalize what the person does and feel like that’s all that life has to offer.
These thought processes can make emotional abuse just as scarring and dangerous as physical abuse.
Healing From Emotional Abuse
Finding yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship can be challenging, especially since it’s easier for your mind to justify staying in a relationship when physical abuse is not present. But the long term effects can be very hurtful.
For those that believe they may be in an emotionally abusive relationship, or they finally broke free and are struggling to regain their self esteem, consider giving me a call today. As a Long Island couples counselor, my aim is to help those in and out of relationships overcome their challenges and potentially learn to grow in healthier relationships in the future. Give me a call today at (516) 732-0273.