Emotionally Abusive Relationship: Signs, Impact & Ways to Handle It

Effects of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship and Ways to Handle It

Any kind of abuse, whether physical or emotional, can take a severe toll on your relationship. Where physical abuse is comparatively easy to identify, emotional abuse is something that may not be prominent enough for you to establish, but it may have the ability to shake the foundation of a healthy relationship. If you wish to know how emotional abuse can affect your relationship, how to identify it, how to deal with it, and various other important aspects of it, we suggest reading the following post to get a thorough insight into the topic!

What Is Emotional Abuse?

When one partner tries to manipulate or control the other partner by criticizing, shaming, blaming, embarrassing, or using other such means, it can be characterized as emotional abuse. In other words, emotional abuse is something where one partner constantly behaves or uses words that not only puts the other partner down but also affect their mental health. Though these kinds of abuse are more prevalent in romantic relationships and marriages, however, it can also be seen amongst friends, co-workers, and even family members.

When a person is in an abusive relationship, another partner manipulates, intimidates, or dominates him or her to the extent that the victim feels utterly threatened or powerless and often loses their sense of self-worth or identity.

Here are various types of emotional abuse that can help you understand it better:

  • Constant opposing or arguing
  • Rejection
  • Causing fear
  • Blaming or shaming
  • Silent treatments
  • Criticism
  • Verbal abuse or name-calling
  • Gaslighting
  • Signs of jealousy and possessiveness
  • Financial abuse

What Drives Emotional Abuse in Relationships

The character and personality of a person shape up according to the environment they are exposed to from childhood. This means that a loving and caring environment where everyone respects, cares and loves each other makes for a loving and caring individual. On the other hand, a harsh environment where family members disrespect or demean each other may lead to fear, self-doubt, anxiousness, and other such feelings in the individuals while growing up. This means that sometimes abusive behavior is rooted in childhood that may be a result of bad parenting, parental neglect, observing abuse, or other such issues.

Sometimes emotional abuse seeps into a relationship because of low-self-esteem issues that may arise because of lack of maturity, looking for constant validation from others, forcing others for acknowledging their personal worth, and other such issues.

In some cases, emotional abuse is rooted in the genetics of the abuser. This means that the abuser is dealing with impulse controls or dealing with personality disorders such as bipolar disorders, NPD or narcissistic personality disorders, BPD or borderline personality disorders, etc.

Also, substance abuse of any kind may lead to abusive behavior in some people, which means that such people may otherwise behave normally, but under the influence of a substance, their personalities transform and they start exhibiting emotionally abusive behavior.

Knowing the reason for what really drove emotional abuse in your relationship can help you take proper measures to mend your relationship or decide that it’s time to move on!

How to Know If Your Partner Is Emotionally Abusive

Here are some telltale signs that could help you know that you are in an abusive relationship:

  • Your partner is overly critical and judgmental, and when if you feel hurt, they may pass it as humor.
  • Your partner often humiliates you or argues with you in front of family or friends.
  • Your partner may feel threatened by your closeness with your family or friends and may make endeavors to isolate you.
  • Your partner may not miss any opportunity in pointing out your weaknesses or mistakes and may often use sarcastic comments to hurt you.
  • Your partner may lack empathy as empathy may make them lose control over you.
  • Your partner may feel jealous or insecure of your dream and aspirations and may want to be in control of all the aspects of your life.
  • Your partner may not pay heed to your wants and needs and often treats you like their slave.
  • Your partner may feel offended if someone makes a joke at them or laughs at them.
  • Your partner may avoid taking any kind of responsibility and often blames you for everything bad that may have happened in their life.
  • Your partner may simply stop talking to you if they want your attention.
  • Your partner may be emotionally unavailable to you because they may not know how to deal with their own issues and inadequacies in life.

Signs That You Are an Emotionally Abusive Partner

Well, it is also possible that you may be the one who is the reason behind the emotional abuse in your relationship. Here are some signs that may help you know whether you are an emotionally abusive partner in your relationship:

  • Are you too controlling?
  • Are you too interfering in your partner’s social life?
  • You are not aware of when to open up to your partner or shut up?
  • Do you feel that everything should happen your way?
  • Do you think that your partner is scared or afraid of you?
  • Do you feel jealous of your partner?
  • Do you think that you are in charge?
  • Do you feel the need to know what your partner is up to all the time?
  • Do you message or call your partner incessantly when they are out alone?
  • Do you enjoy it when your spouse is crying, hurt, or in pain?
  • Has anyone told you that you have anger issues?
  • Do you believe that partner should be yelled at, punished, or even hit, is at fault?
  • Do you break or destroy your partner’s stuff or belongings on purpose?
  • Has your partner ever thought of breaking up or divorcing you?
  • Are you always whining and complaining about everything?

Negative Impact of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Men or women in emotionally abusive relationships are often in denial that they are in such a relationship. However, being in this kind of relationship can take a serious toll on the victim’s mental and physical health. Here are some short-term and long-term negative impacts that may occur:

Some short-term impacts may include:

  • Shame, hopelessness, fear, or confusion
  • Experiencing aches and pains, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, palpitations, moodiness, etc.

Some long-term impacts may include:

  • Guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness or social withdrawal

Why Don’t People Leave Such Kind of Relationships?

Why People Don't Leave Emotionally Abusive Relationships

Calling it quits is often a challenge for most people, and here are some reasons that make people stay in an emotionally abusive relationship:

1. Experiencing difficulty in letting go

Often, people feel some kind of false sense of love, the love which was present when the relationship started. They may still find themselves connected to their partner and find it difficult to let go!

2. Feeling it is okay

Sometimes, people put up with abusive partners thinking that it is okay or normal for some people to behave in this manner. This may also happen in cases when the victims have already been exposed to such kind of abuse while growing up with their family or friends.

3. Financial reasons

Many times, the victim is unable to move on or is stuck in a relationship because of financial dependency on the abuser. This often makes it an utterly difficult situation for the victim to step out of the relationship.

4. Feeling responsible

If the victim is the one who supports the family’s finances, then there may come a sense of responsibility to support the abuser. In some cases, the victim may even feel responsible for the unduly behavior of the abuser.

5. Children are involved

When there are children involved, it may become difficult for the victim to leave. This can happen when the victim is financially weak to support the children or feel that the parent’s separation may impact the children negatively.

6. Hoping for change

Most of the time, the victim feels that it may be just a phase that the partner may be going through, and soon things will become normal. Therefore, the victim keeps waiting to see their partner act or behave normally again.

7. Low self-esteem

In some cases, where the victim has been in an abusive relationship for a considerable amount of time, they develop low-self-worth or self-esteem that they do not view the abuse to be something abnormal. They just think that this is how they will have to live their life.

How You Can Handle Emotionally Abusive Relationships

If you plan to stick with an emotional abuser as moving out of the relationship is not an option for you, here are some ways of handling the relationship or is you wish to help someone in an emotionally abusive relationship, here are some tips that may help:

1. Stay calm

When the abusive partner has an emotional outburst, you should stay calm and not react, argue or lose control as it would worsen the situation. The best thing to do is keeping your cool and walking away.

2. Set boundaries

Make sure you have boundaries set in your relationship. For instance, if your partner insults or shouts at you, tell them that you will not accept this kind of behaviour and you will leave the house if they do so. Make sure to say what you want from them in a firm voice.

3. Take care of your needs

Managing an abusive partner can be daunting for your mental and physical health and may make you push your needs and wants away. However, don’t let that happen and make yourself a priority and take care of yourself and your needs.

4. It’s not your fault

When things go wrong in a relationship, we often start contemplating and may even blame ourselves for it. However, in such scenarios, do not blame yourself as it is about the other person’s issues and not your fault.

5. Seek help

Taking professional help is one of the best ways to making things better for you.

6. Be financially independent

Often, victims are manipulated by abusers by controlling them financially. Do not let that happen to you. Take charge of your life and start earning and saving.

7. Meet friends, family, and socialize

Abusers tend to isolate themselves and their partners to control their partners. Be in the company of people who make you happy!

How to Move on From an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

If you have decided to move on from an emotionally abusive relationship, here are some tips on how you can get out of an emotionally abusive relationship:

1. Be honest and open with your feelings

Analyze what are you getting from the relationship. If the negatives outweigh way more than the positives, well, it is a clear indication to move on!

2. Build your confidence

The victims often tend to be submerged in self-doubt and low self-esteem issues, and this usually happens with women in emotionally abusive relationships. Start believing in yourself and your capabilities that can include both personal and professional.

3. Learn to say ‘No’

Muster up the courage to say no to the abuses that you receive. You need to explain and tell your partner that if this kind of behavior does not stop then, you plan to leave or call it quits. Also, if it does not stop, it is a clear hint to move on!

4. Take charge of your life

Do not play second fiddle and tolerate everything in the relationship. If you feel it’s time to stop tolerating, take charge and control of your life, and move on!

5. Understand the partner’s problems and issues

You can try to understand and help your partner resolve their issues that lead to abusive behavior. However, if that is not in sync with your own integrity and interests, it is important to do what is right for you. Do not hold on to the relationship just to maintain peace.

Every relationship has issues and problems, but the aim of a relationship should be to support each other and make endeavors to make each other happy! However, sometimes relationship becomes difficult to sustain, and one of the reasons could be emotional abuse. If you find yourself stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship, seeking professional help is highly recommended. Meanwhile, the above post will help you in getting a better insight into the topic!

Also Read:

Importance of Trust in a Relationship
How to Build Positive Relationships
Benefits of Giving Space in a Relationship

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Gauri Ratnam completed her Masters in English Literature from the University of Pune. She began her journey as a German translator soon after completing her graduation, but later moved on to pursue her passion for writing. Having written for both digital and print media in a varied range of industries, she has the ability to write relatable and well-researched content, benefical for anyone seeking advice or direction.