At some point or another we were taught to recognize the signs of domestic abuse. Images of black eyes, bruised skin and stitched cuts might flash into your head. The reality is domestic abuse is not limited to what the eye can see. Often along with the physical violence comes emotional and verbal abuse. Usually the relationship will start off normally and the abuser will often shower their victim with affection in an attempt to create a bond with and manipulate their partner. Emotional abuse can feel confusing, but there are certain characteristics that can help you determine if you are involved with someone who could potentially be an abuser.
Some signs your partner might be mentally abusive are:
- They demand to know where you are at all times of the day or night
- They try to keep you from spending time or seeing family and friends, ensuring they have power over who you associate with
- They attempt to use “Gaslighting” to control you, a technique used to make the victim feel like they are losing their mind or memory
- They will insist you give them passwords to social media accounts, email and cell phones or other tech devices
- They will criticize, belittle and shame you often using aggressive language
- They are overly jealous and likely have accused you of cheating
- They threaten physical harm to you or your loved ones, children and pets
A relationship with a partner who is emotionally abusive often follows a cyclical pattern. The ups and downs serve as a way for the abuser to maintain control over the relationship and keep the victim in a constant state of fear. If you think you may be involved with someone who is mentally abusive, there are many resources to help you understand your situation and get help. Although being in an abusive relationship can feel very isolating you are not alone. Abuse is never your fault, no matter the circumstances. If you are in the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.