Emotional abuse in intimate relationships has been around for years, but until recently, it has not been considered an epidemic. If an abused partner chooses to stay, they suffer; if they choose to leave, they suffer. And there countless others who don’t even know they’re being emotionally abused, and, as a result, aren’t in a position to choose. For all these partners, it is wise to know what constitutes emotional abuse, and to firmly understand its consequences.
5 Startling Facts and What They Mean
Emotional abuse is like brainwashing.
Imagine waking up utterly confused, incessantly distracted, highly low self-esteemed, and grievously mourning from feelings of failure and worthlessness. Emotional abuse causes this. Over time, it changes the mind state of an abused partner, leaving them vulnerable and lost, and it takes away their sense of self and self/personal value.
Emotional abuse is like a poison, it replaces the better with the worse.
Imagine a toxic relationship. Emotional abuse causes this. As soon as it enters any intimate relationship, it begins to dramatize it, causing love to be overshadowed by fear, guilt, shame, and anger;it becomes difficult not only for love to grow, but to survive.
Emotional abuse is like a hidden disorder, it goes unnoticed.
Imagine a woman who believes her symptoms are the normal effects of stress from her relationship. Her husband complains about how she constantly gives him the ” silence treatment,” and blames him for all of her problems. She may in fact be stressed out, but her behavior is not normal, it is abusive. She is in an abusive relationship and she is causing the abuse. And what she may not know is that her abusive behavior may be the result of a personality disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD partners generally exhibit symptoms of a tendency to blame their partner, emotional outbursts, radical mood swings, and unreasonable expectations. Research has also shown that BPD affects more women than men, and it can be difficult to treat. Most BPD partners are often hard to reach, even by psychotherapists.
If you’re unsure of whether or not your partner may have BPD, answer these questions:
- Do you often find yourself put in no-win situations?
- Do you feel that anything you do or say can be twisted and used against you?
- Are you always blamed for things that aren’t your fault?
- Are you frequently criticized or put down?
- Are you often pushed away when you start to feel close?
- Is your partner greatly moody, impulsive and unpredictable?
Emotional abuse is like a chameleon, its outer form changes in different environments.
Imagine a woman married for 10 years. Her marriage was healthy, until recently, when her husband began to be emotionally abusive. She doesn’t know what caused this, or what triggers his behaviour. She supposes that he may be having an affair, for reasons she doesn’t want to disclose. She does nothing when he abuses her. At one point, she no longer knows whether she can continue to tolerate his behaviour. She may choose to confront him, and then decide on a course of action. The type of abuse in her relationship is the kind wherein one partner abuses and the other doesn’t. Each person in abusive relationship experiences a type of emotional abusive. There isn’t just one type of emotionally abusive relationship- there are many. Here are some:
- One partner abuses and the other doesn’t
- One partner began abusing the other, and the other partner chose to retaliate
- From the beginning of the relationship, both partners have emotionally abused each other
- It is not clear who is abusing whom
- One partner sets up the other to become emotionally abusive
- One or both partners has an abusive personality
Emotional abuse is like a defence-mechanism, it’s used by the abuser to defend himself / herself.
Imagine a person who doesn’t want to feel vulnerable, embarrassed, fearful, and guilty. Most of the time, the abuser is defending him or herself from feelings of vulnerability, embarrassment, or of having to admit to being wrong. Ultimately, emotional abuse is all about defending ourselves.
If you decide to stay in your abusive relationship, try to interrupt your usual patterns, and discover new, healthier ways of dealing with each other. Opening up about each other’s childhood experiences can be a great start. This will help you discover and acknowledge your part in the problem, and understand your partner’s triggers. However, you must remember that understanding doesn’t excuse their behaviour; it only facilitates bonding in a more significant way.