Abusive relationships come in many colors. Do you, for example, live in mortal fear of your partner? Do you have to watch constantly what you say or do to avoid a temper flare-up that may come with an implied threat of violence? Then chances are you are in an abusive relationship.
Abusive behavior does not just happen. It’s a well-executed plan to gain control of a relationship. The abuser uses dominance, manipulation, humiliation, isolation, threats, and blame – among other tactics – to subjugate the partner. Refuge, a UK charity that provides services for women and children against domestic violence, defines abuse as “the repeated, random, and habitual use of intimidation to control a partner …”
Below are seven indicators that your partner is emotionally abusive.
- Your partner is overly possessive and controlling
Does your partner try to control your life? Do they check on you all the time to control where you go and whom you meet? An overly possessive person will try to isolate you from family and friends, to cut your support system. That way, they hope you will depend on them exclusively, and they can mete out any treatment to you.
- Your partner is excessively jealous
Whenever you are apart, your partner becomes very suspicious and keeps checking on you. They might accuse you of being unfaithful, and want a detailed account of how you spend your time away from them. When you are with your partner, you are afraid of talking to other people because it might lead to a jealous attack when you get home.
- Your partner belittles you
In an abusive relationship, your partner puts you down both in public and in private and does not appreciate your achievements. You never do anything right and they make you doubt your abilities, your intelligence, and even your mental health. They say, “You are mad,” with such conviction that you may start believing them.
- They make you feel guilty and blame you for everything
You start thinking, “Perhaps it’s my fault,” or “Maybe I’m too sensitive.” They convince you that things would be fine if only you’d change your attitude and behave. They even blame you for their behavior. You may even start believing that perhaps you deserve to be mistreated.
- They make you play a guessing game
You never know what to expect from them. One day they are gentleness personified, the next day they yell and threaten you with physical violence, then the following day they sulk and are emotionally unavailable. You live in fear, not knowing what to expect from your partner.
- They control your finances
An abusive partner controls your earnings, giving you an allowance for which you have to account. They control your access to money and credit cards. They may even stop you from earning your own money or do everything to get you dismissed from your job.
- They manipulate you into staying in the relationship
Your abusive partner uses threats to keep you in the relationship. They will threaten to kill you or your children if you file charges against them. Depending on what works with you, they may threaten to commit suicide if you leave them.
So, how do you get out of an abusive relationship?
- Build a support network
Go for counseling and join support groups for domestic abuse survivors. Reconnect with family and friends. Join professional and social groups and make a point to attend meetings. Join a circle of people.
- Build your self-esteem
Do things you are good at and spend time with people who appreciate you. Seek help to learn how to boost your self-worth so that you do not need to rely on the approval of your abusive partner. Forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made, including your abusive relationship.
- Take steps to establish financial independence
Improve your skills to boost your marketability, establish an income stream, and gain financial independence. If your abusive partner has been controlling your money, take back control.
Breaking away from an abusive relationship is not easy. Unlike physical abuse, the scars of emotional abuse may not be visible, but they run deep. Your partner may have succeeded in chipping away at your self-worth, leaving you feeling helpless.
You need to seek help and gain enough confidence to walk away from your abusive partner. Look up and join support groups and enlist the support of positive family and friends. Don’t allow yourself to be talked into staying in an abusive relationship.
Moreover, when you are finally free of your abusive partner, take time to heal before getting into another relationship. Build your confidence until you believe in your ability to survive on your own.
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