Everyone gets into a crappy relationship now and then, but we’re talking unhealthy.
For the most part, love should make you happy, confident and fulfilled. If you find yourself feeling bad about yourself most of the time, you may be a victim of emotional abuse.
Read on for a guide to emotional abuse “ what it is, how to recognize it, and what to do.
What is emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse is behavior that a partner engages in to try to control through intimidation, fear, humiliation and guilt. This is done through verbal assaults, including constant criticism and mockery, or anything else that will help him to wear away at his partner’s self-esteem. Sometimes the approach is subtle: he may couch his critique under the guise of giving advice or guidance.
Over time, victims of emotional abuse begin to lose perspective on what has happened to them, and may even begin to think they deserve this kind of treatment. They may become depressed and despondent.
How to spot emotional abuse
The best way to uncover emotional abuse is to ask yourself a few key questions.
Does your boyfriend/husband/partner:
Criticize you a lot, to the point where you feel you can’t do anything right?
Try to isolate you from friends? This can be subtle: he may just find fault and complain about everyone until you feel it’s easier not to see them.
Discourage your outside interests (going to the gym, girls nights out, etc)?
Try to control your money, steal from you or run up debts and then expect you to pay them?
Make fun of you when you talk about your feelings?
Throw away things that belong to you?
Also, does your relationship seem to be either really bad or really good, never just even keeled? And lastly: do you ever feel trapped or even afraid?
Of course, every couple fights and occasionally even hurts each other’s feelings. But if you read through this list and began to recognize your relationship, there is a good chance you are a victim of emotional abuse.
Getting help: what you can do
Emotional abuse is real, and can be just as bad, or worse than, physical abuse. It’s important to find people you can talk to, whether it’s friends, family or a therapist. Once you realize that you are not to blame for the abuse, you can begin to rebuild your sense of self-esteem. It will take time to come to terms with what you have been through.
If you don’t know where to turn, call a women’s help line “ this should be easy to find in your phone book, or from a quick web search. Women’s shelters also take in victims of emotional abuse. Resources exist for you out there, so remember you are not alone.