It isn’t always easy to recognize when you are being emotionally abused. What starts out as a romantic, “butterflies in your tummy” type of relationship may gradually turn controlling, demeaning and confusing. Physical scars are easy to recognize, but emotional ones can be easily overlooked until it's too late. Here are some red flags that may indicate that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship:
1) You’re the one to blame
No matter what goes wrong in the relationship, your partner makes you feel that you are at fault. And guess what? You believe them. Even if your significant other is blatantly wrong in a situation, they leave you feeling as if it was all your fault. They are completely unable to take responsibly for their actions and somehow in the process of denying their own faults, they put all the blame on you. And the worst part is that it oftentimes goes unnoticed by you. Just take note of the last time they took responsibility for something. When was the last time they admitted to a fault? If you are with an emotionally abusive partner, the answer is probably never.
2) They isolate you
Gradually, you start losing your friends. You find yourself spending every free minute with your partner. And I’m not talking about just when you’re in that starry-eyed honeymoon phase. When you do try to spend time with your friends and family, your significant other makes you feel guilty about it, until eventually you find yourself spending all of your time with only them. This is his or her sneaky way of isolating you until you feel as if you have nobody else left in your life. This isolation is their ultimate goal, because without the support of others around you, it is much easier for them to control you.
3) They point out your flaws
Everybody has flaws, but loving someone is consciously making a decision to overlook those flaws and to be with your partner despite them. The abusive partner does NOT do this. They will find all of your insecurities and then feed on them. If they know you are self-conscious about your weight, he or she will ask you if you’ve gained a few pounds lately. If you have a tendency to get a little jealous, he or she will make sure to talk about all of the people who hit on them. This makes you feel more vulnerable, ultimately leading you to rely on them even more, which is exactly what an emotionally abusive partner wants.
4) They can talk their way out of anything
Did you catch them in a lie? Don’t bother calling them out on it. They will always talk their way out of the situation. Even if you have proof, they will deny it to their death. This is a tactic they use that can make you feel as if you are slowly going insane, forcing you to rely on them for stability. You just want so badly for them to admit to something they’ve done wrong and to feel like everything is not your fault, but they will never give you that satisfaction. To them, admitting their own failings is losing control.
5) They play the victim
If you stand-up for yourself, they will make you feel as if you’re attacking them. They may even call you abusive. They prey on your empathy. Once you stand up for yourself and call them out on their abuse, they turn the attention to your wrong doings in an effort to keep you distracted from their own abusive behavior. This often leaves you feeling as if you’re walking on eggshells around them, not wanting to upset them. You may find yourself going around and around in circles when in a fight with them.
6) They project their own faults onto you
Liars, untrustworthy, selfish, mentally unstable, attention seeking … these are all perfect adjectives that describe your significant other. But instead of acknowledging these faults in themselves, they project them onto you, often calling you these same names. If they are lying, they will try to turn the tables by calling you a liar. If they are selfish, they will somehow convince you that you’re the selfish one.
7) They are unstable
Your relationship is a constant rollercoaster. They may be loving and caring one minute, but insulting you the next. It is constant up and downs with your partner. Either love or hate. Your relationship is completely unpredictable and that is what keeps a lot of victims in the relationship. You hold on to the abuser in hopes that the relationship will work out and that you’ll be happy at some point down the line. You may believe that if you stay with them you can change their ways. Things will be good at times, just often enough so that when things are bad, they know you will keep coming right back to them. They are like a drug. They get you high and before you know it, you’re addicted. You keep turning to the drug for the highs, not thinking about the lows it will bring.
8) They are controlling
“Can I hang out with so and so?” “Can I get another tattoo?” “Can I go to this concert?” “Can I wear this?” “Can I get this pierced?” These are YOUR decisions to make, but for some reason, you go to your significant other for permission. They have control over every move and decision that you make. This is unhealthy. You should have complete control over your own life but instead, you are letting your significant others make decision for you. Whether its as small as “Can I hang out my girlfriends tonight?” or as big as, “Can I take that job offer?”, you should not be answering to someone else. A loved one should be supportive of your decisions and let you have your own voice, but this is a freedom that is taken from you in an abusive relationship.
9) They destroy your self-esteem
No matter what you do, you always feel as if you’re not good enough or worthy enough for your partner. Whether they imply it by pointing out your flaws or by constantly disapproving of you, you just never seem to live up to their expectations. This causes your self-esteem to plummet and your insecurity ultimately keeps you from leaving them. This is exactly what they want from you. They want you to be reliant on them and to feel like they are the only person who could ever love you.
10) They use the “Silent treatment”
When an emotionally abusive partner is angry with you, they will often tell you that they need “time” and use the “silent treatment”. Ignoring you or not engaging in discussion is a technique often used in order to make you beg them for attention. When they are angry and ignoring you, it can put you into a vulnerable and anxious state, sometimes causing you to “crawl back to them” and beg for forgiveness for something that you didn’t even do. This is exactly what they want.
11) They are extremely jealous
A little jealousy in a relationship is fairly normal, but an emotionally abusive partner will take jealousy to an unhealthy level. It may start out as just being a little jealous of your opposite sex friends. Soon, your partner may request that you cut all ties with these friends. Eventually, they may show jealousy towards your same-sex friends and your family. Jealousy is another tool used by them in order to isolate you.
12) You are constantly defending them
Here’s the thing about close friends and family: They can often clearly see the things that love blinds us to. If they don’t like or approve of your partner, there is probably a good reason why. When they try to bring up your partners faults, you will constantly find yourself defending them, and often you will even deny some of the behaviors that are being pointed out. Deep down you know that your partner isn’t treating you right, yet you continue to defend them. This is like a version of “Stockholm Syndrome”; a victim falling for their kidnapper. Your partner hurts you, insults and isolates you, but you still “love” them and will defend them to the death.
13) Constant threats to leave
They know you are reliant on them. They know you would feel incomplete without them. They know that they have successfully convinced you that even though you are “unworthy”, they love you, and no one else will ever love you. So anytime you two fight, they threaten to leave you. And because you are so emotionally worn down, you beg them to stay. They have you right where they want you, right in their grasp. They know that if they threaten to leave, you will do anything to make them stay, including ignoring their abuse. Their threats to leave keep you “in place” so that the abuse can continue.
14) They have a “dual personality”
Emotionally abusive people can be quite charming. In the beginning of your relationship, they often know all the right romantic things to say and do to make you fall. But once they have gotten you emotionally connected to them, their true personality emerges. You slowly begin to realize that the charming person you fell for is just wearing a “mask” in public and its only when you are alone that you realize their true identity. And they may have others fooled as well. If you do try to talk to family or friends about the abuser’s behavior, it may be hard for others to understand because all that they see is the charming disguise.
If you recognize yourself in any of the above, you may be the victim of emotional abuse. It’s never too late to get out of the relationship and begin to heal. The number one key to coping with the break up is to end all communication with the abuser. If you would like to add any other warning signs to the list above, please feel free to comment below.