You would think that something as hurtful and damaging as abuse would be easy to detect and you wouldn’t need to read a list to figure out if it’s happening to you. But emotional abuse can be hard to put the finger on. Especially, because it tends to involve patterns of control, dominance, manipulation, coercion, mind games, criticism, threats, and withholding. And, over time it erodes an individual’s self-esteem, identity, and judgment.
Emotional abuse is often used interchangeably with the terms psychological abuse and narcissistic abuse. Although, this form of abuse doesn’t leave visible marks like bruises, it is every bit as damaging as physical abuse. Many survivors say that the pain from the emotional abuse they suffered was far more damaging and lingered longer than the pain from the physical abuse they suffered.
It’s important to note that not all emotional abusers are narcissists or sociopaths; although a good number are or at least have many narcissistic traits. If you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, I advise you to seek the help of a mental health professional or contact your local domestic violence agency. Careful planning and preparation should be made before leaving an abusive relationship, especially if your partner has a history of violence or has been physically violent toward you.
The following is a list of 23 signs that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. The more signs that resonate with you, the more likely your relationship is abusive.
- Your complaints are frequently dismissed as trivial, annoying, overdramatic, or exaggerated, while their complaints are valid, real, and what you need to be listening to.
- No matter what you do, it’s never good enough. You’re expected to change to me his/her expectations.
- You’re constantly criticized for everything that you do. You feel like you can’t do anything right. (The way you wash your hands, the way you load the dishwasher, the way you cut tomatoes, etc.)
- You’re often told you that you’re too sensitive or your opinion is just wrong.
- Your dreams, goals and accomplishments are belittled.
- You’re blamed for his or her problems, bad moods and overall unhappiness.
- You’re often made to feel like you aren’t good enough for him or her.
- You’re always wrong and he/she is always right.
- You constantly censor yourself because you fear setting him/or her off and causing a fight. You constantly walk on eggshells.
- You’re every move is monitored. (Your texts, your social media, your personal belongings, your whereabouts. They feel entitled to go through your belongings.)
- You’re accused of things that aren’t true, then forced you to “prove” your love.
- You’re regularly humiliated or shamed and often in public. (When you drink too much, laugh too loud, or when you feel too tired, jokes are made at your expense, etc.)
- Everything is somehow your fault. He/she is never wrong and never accepts accountability for anything.
- You often feel lectured rather than spoken to. (You’re spoken to like you’re a child or incompetent, or both.)
- You feel as though your very existence is an annoyance or an inconvenience to them.
- You’re isolated from your family, friends and social support or they try to turn you against them. You’re made to feel that your life must revolve around them.
- You’re expected to mindread their needs and if you fail to do so, you’re accused of being unloving and self-centered.
- You find yourself worrying about how they will react if you’re unhappy about something.
- When you confront him/her on their behavior, you’re accused of being “too sensitive” or “wanting to argue”.
- You find yourself apologizing even when you know you’re not wrong.
- Your spending is controlled, questioned, or micro-managed. You’re forced to ask permission to make the most minor of purchases.
- Your self-esteem has decreased since the beginning of the relationship.
- You’re not happy in the relationship but you find it difficult to end it and leave.
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