Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse can be harder to identify, because emotionally abusive tendencies can slowly creep into a relationship in the form of unhealthy patterns. Emotionally abusive partners seek to manipulate you. They often don’t want to hurt you, but they’re controlling nature makes them act out in a way that is mentally and emotionally harmful.
Here are some signs that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship:
* You feel that you can’t express yourself freely with your partner, or you have to “walk on eggshells.”
* Your partner frequently express jealousy, and keeps you from engaging in normal interactions with the opposite sex
* Your partner frequently criticizes you, humiliates you, or undermines your self-esteem
* Your partner keeps you from your friends, family and support groups outside of the relationship
* You caught your partner monitoring your email or internet usage
* Your partner alludes to the possibility of harming you or your loved ones if you “betrayed” or left him or her
* Your partner implies that if you were to leave, he or she may commit suicide or engage in other self-harm
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but simply point to some of the trends of an emotionally abusive relationship. Regarding the last bullet point — threats of suicide — it is an especially manipulative tactic. If your partner holds their potential suicide over their head, they are essentially trying to take you hostage. You need to bring in a third party if they resort to this or any other form of violence.
If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, you need to get help or get out, and you need to do it fast. Even if it never escalates to physical abuse, emotionally abusive relationships can be damaging, possibly leading to stress, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
Everyone is entitled to a relationship where they are accepted and supported. Relationships should lift you up, not bring you down. They should be a refuge from the hardships of the world; they shouldn’t be a source of constant struggle for one or both partners.