Are You Being Emotionally Abused in a Relationship? 21 Warning Signs to Watch For!

Added Date - Oct 19, 2015

Lately the news has been full of domestic violence stories, with celebrities and professional athletes taking the front page. Domestic violence is not only being slapped, shoved, or punched though, or just being verbally degraded on a constant basis. Emotional abuse can be subtle, underhanded, and hard to see at times. An emotionally abusive relationship involves mental or psychological abuse, leaving you with mixed feelings, and a lot of confusion or apprehension. You may find yourself choosing your words very carefully or constantly walking on eggshells waiting for something to happen. This kind of abuse is not always so obvious, and it does not leave physical bruising or visible signs of the abuse. This type of abuse builds slowly as the relationship goes on.


When psychological abuse occurs one partner will try to take control, in order to change the way the other person feels or how they view reality. This type of abuse also involves controlling information that the other individual has access to, restricting the contact of the partner with others, and sometimes even taking reproductive control and trying to keep a female partner pregnant. This form of abuse can be just as damaging as physical or sexual abuse because it destroys the self esteem and confidence of the individual being psychologically abused. If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship then you are being manipulated, and that is not real love.

Psychological abuse can make you feel helpless or hopeless, and lead to feelings that everything you do is wrong in some way. The abuser is an expert at manipulation, and often they will try to make the victim feel like the abuse is their own fault, and they have the mindset that the victim of the abuse is responsible.

Gaslighting is Simply Sophisticated Emotional Abuse That Goes Far Above and Beyond Name Calling

Gaslighting is one type of psychological abuse that has a sophisticated twist. The abuser presents false information so that the victim eventually doubts what really happened, believes that their memory can no longer be trusted, or may believe that they are losing their sanity. In some cases this form of abuse may just be  the abuser denying that any previous abuse has ever happened. A other times gaslighting can be more insidious and advanced, with the abuser actually setting the stage for weird or unusual events to occur so that the victim becomes extremely confused.

The “I Love You But”

“I love you but...” If these are words that you hear frequently in your relationship then you are the victim of emotional abuse. At face value this small phrase seems harmless or even complimentary, but it is actually a control maneuver that involves threats and criticism instead of actual love. What the abuser is actually saying is that their love is conditional on certain requirements, such as you doing something or stop doing something, and if you do not do what they want then the abuser will take away their love. As time goes by your self esteem, confidence, and relationship security will erode. Abusers often tend to use the word love in order to manipulate and control, with no real idea of what this emotion truly means.

The Cycle of Abuse

Abuse usually follows predictable patterns, and abusive relationships can have good times as well as times of abuse. In fact the typical abuse cycle involves abuse, a period where the abuser seems repentant and is nice to the victim, and then more abuse. Periods of being nice can not eliminate what happens during the abusive periods, but often the victim holds out hope that things will actually change and the abuser takes advantage of these emotions.


Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse to Watch For

Some of the emotional abuse warning signs that you should watch for include:


  •     Threats of suicide or violence if the relationship ends
  •     Giving ultimatums
  •     The “I Love You But....”
  •     Putting you down, making fun of you, or making you the butt of mean and hurtful jokes
  •     Embarrassing or humiliating you on purpose
  •     Shutting you out and refusing to talk to or communicate with you
  •     Affairs outside of the relationship
  •     Frequent sarcasm or a tone that is mean, critical, or unpleasant
  •     Withdrawing affection from you
  •     Constantly trying to control your thoughts or actions
  •     Isolation from those who care about you including family and friends
  •     Constantly keeping track of you and contacting you when you are both apart
  •     Jealousy that is unreasonable
  •     Excessive criticism
  •     Constantly putting you down or calling you names
  •     Excluding you from activities or events
  •     Excessive moodiness
  •     Using financial control
  •     Reproductive control
  •     Trying to make you feel guilty
  •     Blaming everything on you, trying to make you responsible for the emotional abuse

The Abuse is Not Your Fault, You are Not Responsible

Abusers of all types are experts at manipulation, and at blaming the victim for the abuse. It is very important for you to remember that the abuse is not your fault and you are not responsible. Abusers tend to pick up on insecurities and emotional weakness, and once they find a victim they understand very well which buttons to push to get the desired reactions. Many abusers will even try to make you believe that they are abusing you because they want to help you and they love you, but this is pure baloney.

If you are the victim or psychological abuse it is important that you are realistic about the possibilities for the relationship. Very few emotionally abusive relationships ever improve, because the abuser must be highly motivated to change and gain the insight necessary to do this. This very rarely happens, and things will typically just continue to get worse. You need to get out and move forward. If you are in a relationship with someone who is psychologically abusive then they do not really love you, and no matter how much you love them you can not make them change. Eventually you will find someone who truly loves and respects you, and this abusive relationship will just be another bad relationship from your past.



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