Is it possible that you are in an abusive relationship and not even know it?
Domestic violence is once again in the forefront of the news. Interestingly enough most articles would address women to be on the lookout, but today an abusive relationship can be initiated by either a man or a woman.
You may find yourself feeling confused about the relationship, off-balance or like you are “walking on eggshells” all the time. This is the kind of abuse that often sneaks up on you as you become more entrenched in the relationship. I am talking here about psychological abuse, which is also known as mental or emotional abuse.
Psychological abuse occurs when a person in the relationship tries to control information available to another person with intent to manipulate that person’s sense of reality or their view of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Psychological abuse often contains strong emotionally manipulative content and threats designed to force the victim to comply with the abuser’s wishes.
All abuse takes a severe toll on self-esteem. The abused person starts feeling helpless and possibly even hopeless. In addition, most mental abusers are adept at convincing the victim that the abuse is his/her fault. Somehow, the victim is responsible for what happened.
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A more sophisticated form of psychological abuse is often referred to as “gas lighting.” This happens when false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. Examples may range simply from the abuser denying that previous abusive incidents ever occurred to staging bizarre events with the intention of confusing the victim.
A friend of mine by mistake went into her husband’s email and found mails to him from a woman he apparently was seeing for a number of years, when she confronted him about it, he was up in her face about going into his email and that what she saw was not what she thought it was and he was taking that to his grave, the illusionist!
A common form of emotional abuse is “I love you, but…” That may sound nice at first, yet it is both a disguised criticism and a threat. It indicates, “I love you now, but if you don’t stop this or that, my love will be taken away.” It is a constant jab that slowly strips away your self-esteem. Abusers get a lot of reinforcement out of using the word “love” as it seems to become a magic word to control you.
Abusers at times do what I call “throw you a bone.” I have heard countless times from clients that their partner was “nice,” “complimentary,” “gave me a gift,” etc. as if it should erase all of the bad treatment. You need to understand that this is part of the dynamic and cycle of abuse.
In fact, it is rare for abusive relationships to not have these (often intense) moments of feeling good, overly sincere apologies or attempts to make up for the bad behaviour. The victim clings to hope when these moments occur and the abuser knows this.
Hyper-criticism, is when your partner is criticizing you so much that you wonder why they are with you in the first place.
Refusing to communicate, some call it the silent treatment, however some persons can go for months without saying two words to their partner.
Ignoring or excluding you, is another form of abusive, very subtle, however when you observe that your partner is doing that to you, it is best to nip it in the bud.
Extreme Moodiness, is another form of abuse, you never know what you are going to get and so you are always on edge in the relationship, however that is just another form of being in an abusive relationship.
Using money to control, is quite common and if the person knows how to use this method it is very difficult to identify or to explain. In a 2013 online poll by CreditKarma.com, one in 10 American adults in committed relationships said they were being financially bullied by their spouse or live-in partner.
Withdrawal of affection, Guilt trips, so I promised 10 however I will have to slip in another, so you have the withdrawal of affection and the guilt trip together because most times they go hand in hand, nevertheless it is a form of being in an abusive relationship.
It is important to remember that it is absolutely not your fault. Abusers are expert manipulators with a knack for getting you to believe that the way you are being treated is your fault. These people know that everyone has insecurities, and they use those insecurities against you. Most times it is coming from childhood, so they are not very conscious about their actions, however why would you want to be in an abusive relationship?