As humans, we’re not dumb. When someone opposes or oppresses us with emotional abuse, we’re always ready to strike back.
But what do you do when you’re manipulated just a little bit every day?
What do you do if you just don’t realize you’re being tricked and duped into abuse with sweet words of love?
What if your love for this person convinces you that you need to bend over backwards just to please them, even if that translates to emotional abuse?
[Read: 16 abusive relationship signs and traits of a devious lover]
Emotional abuse is easy to overlook
Reality and our interpretation of reality are completely different and subjective.
You would believe you’re being emotionally abused only if you convince yourself of that truth.
And until you see the truth for yourself, no one else can help you realize it.
It’s like the metaphorical boiling frog syndrome.
It’s been said that if you drop a frog in boiling water, it would jump out immediately. But if you place a frog in a pot of tepid water and start to boil the water very slowly, the frog would continue to stay in the pot of water until it boils to death.
Now this may be a metaphor to prove a cautionary tale about change and our inability to see the signs. But this story plays a big part in understanding your own relationship. [Read: 15 types of really toxic relationships you could be experiencing right now!]
Has your partner’s behavior changed?
In all the years that both of you have been together, do you think your partner’s behavior has changed over time?
If the change is gradual, and you choose not to see the changes, you may never ever realize it.
And even if you’re being emotionally abused, you may never see the signs.
Abuse in any form has to start somewhere. There’s a point in the relationship where your partner does something that mentally disturbs you, and yet, you choose to overlook it because of the love you have for them. [Read: The consequences of making someone a priority when you’re only an option to them]
And then, it happens again. And you still choose to overlook it. And finally, it reaches a point where you feel suffocated and weak, and don’t even know why you’re feeling so helpless.
What is emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse is any kind of psychological abuse that traumatizes a person’s mind or their state of being, forcing them to feel weak, traumatized and helpless.
You may feel moments of emotional abuse now and then in your own relationships with the people around you, be it with your parents, siblings, friends or even your romantic partner.
The easiest way to realize if you’re being abused by someone is if you feel weak and stressed around them. [Read: 10 types of toxic people who’ll make you feel weak and used]
Emotional abuse can change your life forever
A person would be able to understand the damage emotional abuse can cause to them only if they experience it. It’s easy for someone to tell an emotionally abused person to walk out of the relationship. But they would never be able to understand your state of mind, how helpless you feel or the emotional mess you’re in.
If you ever experience emotional abuse, you need to realize that you can ask for all the help from others, but unless you strengthen yourself from within, no one can ever help you change your life. [Read: How to stop selfish people from hurting you]
Don’t be ashamed of the abuse or the helplessness
Emotional abuse feels shameful and humiliating. It’s not easy to talk about it with others, especially when you believe it’s your own weakness that led to the abuse. But you need to remember that it wasn’t your weakness, but your unconditional love for this person, that led to it.
Emotional abuse isn’t restricted to either sex, nor is it restricted to a particular kind of relationship. So the first thing you need to remember is to stop feeling ashamed. [Read: How your self respect affects you and all the relationships you have]
The 21 big signs of emotional abuse that you may easily overlook
Emotional abuse always starts small, and it has to start somewhere. The easiest test to realize if you’re emotionally abused is by asking yourself if your partner’s behavior hurt you mentally. If it did, you need to talk about it with them.
After all, emotional abuse isn’t always inflicted on you to suppress you. Sometimes, emotional abuse could also stem from neglect and ignorance. [Read: How to improve communication in a relationship]
Use these 21 subtle signs of emotional abuse to find out if you’ve been pushed to the wall by your spouse, your boyfriend or your girlfriend. And if you do see these signs, perhaps it’s now time to start pushing back.
#1 You’re scared. Your partner’s behavior scares you. You’re afraid to ask for things or tell them something because you just don’t know how they would react.
#2 Incessant lectures. Your partner constantly tells you how you’re so flawed and how you still need to improve in so many ways. But instead of trying to help you, they point your flaws out and behave like you’re a lost cause who can’t be helped because you’re too weak or dumb. [Read: The power of words and how it can make or break your relationship]
#3 Painful comparisons. Your partner constantly compares you, either with your more prettier or successful friends, and tells you how much better than you they are. Your partner may even be subtle and point out to celebrities and tell you how they’re so much more attractive than you.
#4 Constant confusions. Your partner yells at you often. But when you try to argue back or prove that you’re right, they may even get down on their knees or humiliate themselves just to apologize to you and win your affection back.
#5 You get blamed for no fault. Your partner blames you for no fault of yours. They blame you for your friend’s behavior, for the way the kids are, your friend’s divorce, or just about anything else. Sometimes, your partner may even hear about something on the television and yell at you because they’re pissed off!
#6 Possessive jealousy. Your partner always has something negative to say about your friends, especially if they’re of the opposite sex. Your partner hates it when you get phone calls from your friends and sometimes even asks you to hang up the phone. They just don’t like it when you have an active social life. [Read: 15 subtle and shocking signs of a controlling boyfriend]
#7 Your self esteem is crippled. Your partner constantly tells you how bad or worthless you are, and gets angry with you because you’re always relying on them. But even when you try to do something yourself, they tell you you’re not capable of making decisions and make you feel dumb all the time.
#8 Two faced personality. Your partner’s behavior and attitude confuses you. At times, they may be extremely loving and caring. And at other times, they’re really mean and hurtful. You just can’t predict how they’ll react to anything you do.
#9 The sadist inside. Your partner feels better about themselves when they point out your flaws or criticize you. They may be more jovial or happy on days when you’re overworking or stressed because of your own mistakes.
#10 The humiliation. Your partner humiliates you or makes nasty remarks, especially around your friends or people who admire you.
#11 Big demands. They set unreasonable expectations and make big demands from you, secretly hoping you’d fail so they can say ‘I told you so!’ [Read: 18 critical signs of an unhealthy relationship]
#12 Sexual manipulation. Your partner emotionally manipulates you into sexual activities you don’t like. They may even emotionally armtwist you by saying things like “Other girls/guys do it! Why can’t you?”
#13 Big confessions. Your partner shares their problems with everyone who listens. But if you confess any of your problems, especially about the relationship, to your friends or family, your partner would get very upset with you.
#14 Turning everyone against you. This is a sneaky trick that emotionally abusive partners use to gain advantage and leave you feeling helpless. Your partner may constantly bitch about how difficult or dumb you are to everyone, including your friends, your family and even your kids. Your partner may even give biased examples just to convince everyone else and turn them against you so no one would take your side against theirs.
#15 The silent treatment. If you stand up for something or try to take control of the situation, your partner may walk away in a huff and give you the silent treatment. An emotionally abusive partner works on guilt, and they hate giving power away in a relationship. Your partner may just ignore you until you apologize for opposing their decision! [Read: How to perfect the silent treatment in a relationship]
#16 Physically abusive. Sometimes, your partner may resort to physical abuse like a slap, a painful pinch or even a threatening gesture just to scare you into submission when you oppose them for anything.
#17 You’re not allowed to think. Emotionally abusive lovers take pleasure in taking full control of the relationship. They’d manipulate you one step at a time until you lose all confidence in your judgment. You convince yourself that you are not capable of taking any decisions yourself, without your partner’s guidance. [Read: 25 memorable life lessons to perfect your life]
#18 Isolation and dependence. Initially, your partner may tell you they don’t like your friends or a particular family member. Soon, they may tell you to avoid that particular person. And before you realize it, your partner may carefully isolate you from everyone who was once close to you. And one fine day, you’d see that the only person you can go to for help or depend on is your partner.
#19 Emotional memories. Your partner constantly reminds you of all the times you’ve screwed up each time there’s an argument or a discussion. They constantly bring up your failures or the mistakes you’ve made in your life to reinforce the idea that you depend on your partner and can’t survive by yourself without their help and guidance in life. [Read: A guide to fighting fair in a relationship]
#20 Your achievements don’t matter. Your partner glorifies even the smallest of their achievements and proudly brags about it. But on the other hand, no matter what you achieve or do, your partner always mocks your achievements and makes you feel silly for celebrating it.
#21 Denial. Even when you point out their emotionally abusive ways, your partner doesn’t accept their emotionally abusive ways as a flaw. Instead, they convince themselves and try to convince you that they’re doing all this only to help you become a better person and stand on your own feet. [Read: How to fall out of love when you see no future with your partner]
Recognizing the subtle signs of emotional abuse
If you’re not sure what you’re going through is abuse, just look at yourself from another person’s perspective. Or ask yourself how you would feel if your sibling or your child was living your life. Would you be happy for them? Would you genuinely believe that they’re in the happiest relationship of their life or would you want them to walk out or get the strength to confront the issue?
If you see these signs in your own love life, you need to remember that the strength to overcome the abuse lies within you. All you need to do is believe in yourself, and take a firm stand. [Read: The right way to take a break in the relationship and improve both your lives]
It may seem like the hardest thing to do right now, but you’ll feel your strength and confidence seeping right back into you the very instant you put your foot down for the first time.
If you can’t deal with it yourself, get help from a family member or an organization for abused victims. But don’t just put up with it. After all, patience or unconditional love won’t change an emotionally abusive lover. Only a firm reply will!
[Read: 16 perfect ways to handle abusive behavior in a relationship]
These 21 signs of emotional abuse will help you decipher if you’re being abused and taken for granted in your love life. And if you do see these signs, speak about it with your lover or with a friend. It’ll be your first step towards a much better future!