Emotional abuse is more difficult to diagnose than physical abuse because the symptoms can slowly work their way into a relationship. This starts with unhealthy behavior patterns and escalates to something more troubling. For example, an emotionally abusive partner tries to manipulate you to get what they want. They often don’t mean to hurt you, but their controlling nature makes them behave in ways that are emotionally harmful to you.
What signs should you look for to determine if your relationship is an emotionally abusive one? Here are a few:
- You are afraid to express yourself freely with your partner, and feel like you have to watch what you say.
- Your partner’s jealousy often keeps you from doing things you want with the opposite sex, even friends and colleagues.
- Your partner frequently criticizes you, humiliates you in front of others, and you feel like your self-esteem has taken a blow since you met him or her.
- Your partner prevents you from spending time with your friends, family, and anyone else outside of the relationship.
- Your partner monitors your internet usage or reads your email correspondence.
- Your partner has hinted at the possibility of hurting you or your loved ones if you ever betrayed him or her, or if you ever broke off the relationship.
- Your partner has hinted at the possibility of hurting himself or herself, or even committing suicide if you ever broke off the relationship.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of what to look for in an emotionally abusive relationship, but it gives you an idea of some of the major warning signs. The last sign – a partner who threatens suicide – is an especially dangerous manipulative tactic. If your partner threatens suicide if you don’t do what they want, they are essentially taking you as their hostage in the relationship. If this is the case in your relationship, you need to get a third party involved as soon as possible.
If you think you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, you need to get help or get out as soon as possible. Even if the situation never escalates to physical abuse, you should be aware that emotional abuse is just as harmful and can lead to stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other problems that will disrupt your life.