When speaking of abuse, most people conjure up sexual and physical abuse while they relegate emotional abuse in relationships to a small dark corner. Emotions are, after all, subjective. However, emotional abuse is damaging and debilitating in its own right just like any other form of abuse.
Emotional abuse in relationships is denial of the basic human needs of security and respect within a relationship, and its victims struggle with feelings of guilt, sadness, depression, powerlessness, anger, and, in extreme cases, suicide. This type of abuse is designed to belittle someone, while lowering not only their self-esteem, but independence as well. The abuser’s motive goes well beyond control. Their desire is to render their victims helpless and to the point of feeling worthless, useless and unloved. Emotional abuse signs consist of the following factors:
- Instilling Fear: The upside of fear is its cautionary, preventative nature, which serves to shield one from unnecessary harm. The downside of fear, however, is that no one should have to live in a continuous state of caution or apprehension. Anytime one has to hesitate before broaching a subject with someone, or avoid subjects because the other partner may become hostile or enraged, emotional abuse in relationships is present.
- Humiliation: Emotional abusers generally belittle their victims and shame them in numerous ways, from treating them with condescension, to mocking them in front of others and fabricating lies about them.
- Questioning Sanity: Abusers are known to cause their victims to question their own sanity or memory on a consistent basis, which takes a tremendous toll on the victim’s well-being emotionally and physically,
- Name calling: Emotional abusers use name calling to humiliate their victims, publicly as well as privately.
- Blaming: A number of abusers are narcissistic or have very little self-esteem themselves, and generally lay blame for any and all problems at the foot of their victims. This allows them to absolve themselves of any responsibility.
- Isolation: Isolation is one of the abuser’s favorite methods of control over their victims. By isolating their partner, whether withholding their affections or prohibiting their partner from the company of others, the abuser controls the environment of their victim, allowing them to steadily enmesh their victims in feelings of undesirability.
- Invalidation: Validation – the ability of others to accept you, your beliefs and ideas – is a common human need. By invalidating a person, the abuser insures that their victim will always feel unsettled and uncertain as to their place in society. While ideally, validation should be inward instead of outward, an abuser will seize upon someone with this particular need and manipulate them into believing they are unacceptable as is.
- Denial: Abusers are known to deny reality, especially their victim’s, which to an abuser, is unimportant anyway. By denying their victim’s ideas, perceptions and beliefs, they relegate their victims to the lowest rung possible.
All of these factors can deeply wound the victim. To develop a healthy relationship, make sure these signs of emotional abuse in relationships are not part of your relationship by any means.