Am I in an Emotionally Abusive or Toxic Relationship?
Are you questioning whether you are in an emotionally abusive relationship? There’s a lot of red flags you should be looking out for which are clear indicators that you might be dealing with an abuser.
Emotional abuse is often overlooked by victims due to the manipulation tactics of the abuser. Victims will often defend their abuser’s behavior by thinking it was their fault their partner lashed out or that they deserve it.
There’s a variety of tactics abusers use to manipulate their victims:
An abuser will try their hardest to make you feel bad about yourself. If you believe you’re worthless and that nobody else will want you, you’re less likely to leave your current relationship. Public put-downs, name-calling, shaming, and insults are all weapons of abuse designed to make you feel powerless and destroy your self-esteem.
Abusers often use threats to keep their partners from leaving them. They may threaten to hurt or kill you, your family members, or other people who are close to you. They may also threaten to hurt themselves or commit suicide if you do something they aren’t allowing you to do.
An abusive person needs to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and others in your family, tell you can and can’t do, tell you want to do, and expect you to follow their orders without question. They may treat you like a child or servant.
A frequent tactic used by abusers to increase your dependence on them is cutting you off from the outside world. They may prevent you from going to work, or seeing your friends and family. They also make you ask for permission to do anything, see anyone, or go anywhere.
- Denial and blame
Abusers are extremely good at making excuses for everything. They will blame their abusive behavior on everything except for themselves, including you. In their mind, the reason they’re lashing out is because you have done something wrong.
Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics to try and scare you into submission. Some of these tactics are: destroying property, smashing things in front of you, hurting your pets or loved ones, making threatening looks or gestures, or displaying weapons.
Do you recognize or relate to any of these behaviors in your partner?
If you do, then keep reading to learn the most common warning signs of an abusive relationship.
Common warning signs of an abusive relationship:
- Constant check-ins
It’s perfectly fine if your partner wants to check in during the day to make sure you’re okay, or wanting to hear about your day because they care about you. However, what isn’t okay is your partner constantly calling or texting you wanting a full report of everyone you’ve been with, everywhere you’ve been, and what you’ve done. An additional red flag to look out for is - do you get into arguments if you don’t answer the phone every time your partner calls or if you don’t respond to texts fast enough?
- Excessive jealousy and possessiveness
Does your partner get excessively jealous if you hang out with other people, especially people from the opposite gender? Do you often get bombarded with questions if you hang out with anyone that isn’t your partner? If your partner doesn’t approve of your friends or doesn’t feel comfortable with you spending time with someone, although you have the right to be friends with anyone you want, it is okay if they have a nice conversation with you and express their feelings and why they are experiencing them. Good communication is key to a healthy relationship, so closely examine how your partner is expressing their feelings about the issue.
- Hostile environment
Is your partner angry a lot of the time? If you feel like you’re not able to express yourself the way you want, feeling stressed out, of living with a lot of tension, your relationship isn’t healthy.
- Everything is always your fault (even when it isn't)
Is it your fault every time something bad happens or a problem arises in your relationship? Even things you have no control over, like your abuser
- Avoiding solving problems
When you express how you feel, does your partner listen and try to meet your needs? If they refuse to acknowledge your feelings and needs and refuses to go to counseling, you might be in an unhealthy relationship.
- Dirty fights
A definite sign of toxicity in a relationship is name calling. Trying to hurt someone with words isn’t an effective way of resolving conflict or communicating your feelings. Name calling quickly escalates problems which makes it hard to reach any sort of resolution.
Gaslighting is a commonly used manipulation tactic used by abusers to gain more power by making victims question their reality. The tactic is done slowly, so the victim never actually realizes how much they’ve been brainwashed. The abuser will often say or do something, then convince the victim that it never happened or that they said or did something completely different.
Ultimatums are essentially threats that force you to do something or face horrible consequences. The most common one being “if you leave me, I’ll kill you/myself.”
- Guilt trips
Abusers will often make their victims feel guilty and indebted to them. Victims feel as though they are obligated to give in to whatever the abuser wants, especially when they are reminded of all the “thoughtful gestures” the abuser has done recently.
Important questions to ask yourself:
DO YOU OFTEN:
- Apologize for your actions even when it isn’t your fault?
- Feel that you deserve the behavior your partner is displaying?
- Feel that you need to do everything perfectly to not upset your partner?
- Bully yourself using the same words you would hear from your partner?
- Feel that you need validation from others?
- Think that people have an ulterior motive & second guess everyone?
- Feel on the edge around people?
- Think people are mad at you?
- Feel insecure about everything?
- Feel like everything is your fault?
- Make excuses on behalf of your partner to people questioning his behavior?
If you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells in your relationship, it’s time you talk to someone about it. If you’re interested in opening up about your relationship problems or if you have any questions, you can schedule a call by clicking the button below.