Signs of Emotional Abuse

This one is tricky.  Hard to pin down since emotions are so volatile and changing with a thought.  How secure you are within yourself makes it harder for someone to abuse you emotionally.  This link is one of those annoying ones that you have to click after every paragraph but the signs are important to be aware of to spot those that use emotion to manipulate others.

  1. You feel like you are on emotional roller coaster.  Another description is you feel like you are walking on egg shells, terrified of the next flair up.
  2. They isolate you.  They don’t want you having contact with friends or family.  This may seem very romantic at first that they want you all to themselves but no one can be your everything.  Family and friendships need to be maintained.  They need other friends too.
  3. Jealousy….not just of other people but your dreams and goals.  They want control over every aspect of your life.
  4. Arguments escalate quickly and go in directions that have nothing to do with the original argument.  Sadly the emotional abuser will also escalate into physical violence.
  5. They try to keep you off balance and often you feel afraid of them.  If your sentence begins, “I have to do ________________or else____________.”  This is a red flag.  Partners don’t need to punish each other.
  6. Making you feel small, dismissing your accomplishments, constant criticism, you simply are not enough no matter how much you try they feel a need to keep you down, preferably under their thumb.
  7. You are doing all you can to keep them happy but there is no effort on their part to do the same for you.  Along with this is Peace at all cost, will cost you everything.
  8. Feeling trapped, they will control your car, your phone, every aspect of your life will be under their control.
  9. You believe that you are the problem and you deserve this abusive treatment….if you were a better person you would ________________ then I would love you….Hear those words you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Two of the main weapons used by an emotional abuser are shame and blame.  From my counseling I learned that I have to give my power away to be in this type of emotionally abusive situation.  I was stunned.  I didn’t know I had any power…What power?  An emotionally secure person does not need to control someone else.  An emotionally aware person recognizes these traps and changes the situation or walks away.  An abuse survivor has difficulty recognizing these as unloving behaviors because often this is all they know.  Counseling taught me to recognize each of these.  I also learned that I have far more power than I ever dreamed I had.  Personal power is part of who we are from the day we are born.  We are taught to give it away.  Good parenting involves teaching children how to use their personal power to make relationships and the World a better place.  Sadly, a lot of parents really mess up.  Fortunately, later in life, each of us can choose for ourselves how we use our personal power.

668cd_rm14823Blame, shame and fear are the weapons of choice in an emotionally abusive relationship.

4 thoughts on “Signs of Emotional Abuse

  1. My abuser is very covert. It was extremely hard to see the applicable signs for what they are. And, it was built on top of childhood emotional abuse that was more overt. I thought I would recognize an abusive person. Mine is a quiet, stubborn controller, who withholds, gaslights, and triangulates. She eventually smeared me by insinuating that I was abusive. Oh how *everyone* came to her aid! I was cornered, railroaded, verbally assaulted, and all the rest short of police action.

    The hard part in lists like this is the fact that I will be, like many others are, falsely accused of these same things. One that I have been accused of many times is isolating her from her FOO. Her immediate FOO is very toxic, with a few others that are willing to eat bananas and fly any old time. The parents are contemptuous and intrusive with respect to expecting to be able to override/evade/criticize my fathering (my wife will help them, or at least keep secrets). It’s hard to stand up to that when CPTSD is running you (I didn’t understand that) and you’re unemployed. I’ve been crushed and made to look and feel like an idiot/nutjob, and the only way I could get safety was to try to put a divide there. A couple times when I felt stronger, I did chew out and write a very direct e-mail or two to my FiL … naturally *I* was deemed bad, mean, and sinful for defending normal boundaries. My wife still has open communication with them, but they don’t generally come to the house. I usually won’t go to theirs, either. Of course that means they get my wife and kids without me around… that’s the divisive goal they are working for. So… I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.

    Distinguishing truly abusive isolating manipulation (which can be done with shame and doesn’t always require an actual command to stay away from someone) from withdrawal or defensive actions is very difficult from the outside. In my case there is not anyone to back me up, while many back her up. If people would just pay attention they could tell, I think. Apparently that is too much to ask.

    Whenever I read this kind of list I feel a little validated. Then I realize that if I show it to someone they will not be able to distinguish the abuse from the defense. Frustrating.

    • I will address this in a later post. Probably today. You are in a difficult situation. This is one area that a counselor, a third person not connected to either family, can help shine light on what is happening. You are right most people will not look objectively at the whole picture. Covert abusers are ace at deflecting, hiding, and lying about any situation. Sorting it all out is difficult.

  2. Pingback: Challenges of Recognizing Emotional Abuse | PTSD - Accepting, Coping, Thriving

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