7 Signs You Are in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Let’s face it — relationships are tough and always require work to succeed. If both parties are invested and make an effort, the reward can be a mutually satisfying, long-lasting union. But what if one of the partners is abusive? It is possible that the problems you are having in your relationship and the dejection you feel over it are not your fault. You may be partnered with someone who is an emotional and psychological abuser. This type of abuse can be trickier to detect than say, physical abuse. The effects of verbal and psychological abuse can be more subtle.  

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Fortunately, there are some clear signs to look for if you suspect that this type of abuse is happening in your relationship (or someone else’s you care about):

 1.  Verbal put-downs, either publicly or in private. In a healthy relationship, parties may express their feelings and let their partner know when they have been hurt, but this does not necessitate name-calling or attempts to assault the partner’s character. If this is becoming a pattern in your relationship, be aware this could be abusive behaviour.

2.  Withholding of affection or intimacy. Everyone gets distracted by life, or gets frustrated once in an awhile and does not feel “in the mood.” There is a difference between this behaviour and a pattern of deliberately withholding the love and attention a partner desires in order to control them.

3.  Demanding sex or intimacy. In contrast, an abusive partner may instead make unreasonable demands that you serve their physical needs, regardless of your comfort level or emotional/physical/spiritual state. If you often feel manipulated, threatened, or made to feel guilty so that you will be intimate with your partner, consider that this may be abuse.

4.  Attempting to control your activities. If your partner gets angry or makes you feel guilty about the activities you do outside of spending time with him/her, this is a bad sign. Both partners should feel free to pursue activities outside the relationship. An abuser may attempt to control your accesses to finances, work, education, or anything else that could help you become independent.

5.  Attempting to isolate you from friends and family. If your partner discourages you or becomes angry with you for spending time with your friends and family, this is another real sign you are dealing with an abuser. Isolation is a powerful method of control. It keeps you from getting valuable input and support from others who love you and reduces the threat that you will become aware of your partner’s tactics through the feedback of others.

 6.  Causing you to question reality or your perceptions.  An abusive partner may attempt to make you feel crazy or paranoid, to break down your perceptions and remove your challenges to his or her behaviour.

 7.  Implying non-physical threats for non-compliance with a partner’s demands.   As you can see, emotional and psychological abuse can be challenging to identify — but it is very real.
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