Abusive relationships aren’t always physical. In fact, emotional abuse within relationships is even more common than physical abuse. Emotional abuse is usually harder to spot because it can masquerade as an intense form of love and devotion. Physical, sexual, or psychological harm can all be considered abusive behavior. Some signs of an emotionally abusive relationship include the following.
Gaslighting is used to undermine the other person’s reality. When someone is gaslighting you, you may second-guess yourself, your memories, recent events, and perceptions. It can confuse you and cause you to question your own judgment. Gaslighting is defined as “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.” Examples of gaslighting include these kinds of statements:
- “That never happened.”
- “I did that because I love you.”
- “You know I’d never intentionally hurt you.”
- “I’m sorry you think that I hurt you.”
If you think your partner is telling blatant lies, denying they said something when you have proof, not matching their actions to their words, throwing in positive reinforcement to confuse you, they might be gaslighting you.
If you feel like your partner is controlling you, that is another sign of an emotionally abusive relationship. This might mean that they are isolating you by not letting you see your friends or family, acting jealous and possessive, and monitoring your behaviors. Some more signs your partner is controlling you include:
- Trying to control who you follow on social media
- Using social media to track your movements
- Not respecting your need for time alone
- Overactive jealousy, accusations, or paranoia
- Spying, snooping, or requiring constant disclosure
It’s important to remember that people of any age, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status can be in controlling relationships, playing either role.
Do you find that your partner is insulting and criticizing you often? Are they name-calling you, embarrassing you in public, belittling your accomplishments, or posting unflattering photos of you on social media? These are all signs that your partner might be emotionally abusive. Humiliation tactics are meant to put you down and often happen around other people. It’s meant to lower your self-esteem and make you more reliant on your partner/less likely to leave the relationship. If you feel like your partner often tries to embarrass you in front of friends or family, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your relationship.
Healing from an Abusive Relationship
If you find that you’re in an abusive relationship and feel like you can leave safely, you should end the relationship. While it can be difficult, ending the relationship with someone who repeatedly puts you down can be the best thing for you in the long-run. If you ever feel unsafe, you can call the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-7233. If you are experiencing any of the above toxic red flags and want to seek outside support, Life Balance Therapy offers Online & In-Person Relationship Counseling in San Antonio, Texas for both individuals and couples.