6 Warning Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships
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6 Warning Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships

Vallari Sharma
3 min read

6 Warning Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships

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It’s not easy to recognise the signs of emotional abuse- as the signs of emotional abuse are not as visible as the signs of physical abuse. However, emotional abuse is not impossible to recognise.

Ever wondered why don’t people talk about ‘emotional abuse’ like they do about physical one? Well, the answer is pretty simple. It’s like talking about depression and common cold. Its signs aren’t visible ‘on the face’. Moreover, signs of emotional abuse are hard to recognise and many times, normalised. An emotional abuser doesn’t harm or torture you physically, instead, they play with your ‘emotions’.

Wondering if you too are being played with?

Well, here are the 6 warning signs of emotional abuse you must be watchful of:

1. Blame game

Emotional abusers ace the ‘game of blame’ and have a habit of holding others accountable for their loss and failures. This could leave the accused feeling frustrated and after a point, guilty. They blame all their misfortunes on you; they blame you for not being supportive enough or probably you being too involved. For example, they would say things like, “I did not get that job because you didn’t support me” or “I can’t concentrate on my career as you’re too clingy”.

2. Threats

Very often when an abuser doesn’t get things their way, they start resorting to threats. They could threaten to expose you, harm you, and the people you love; and take away things that are dear and important to you. Also, sometimes these abusers threaten to harm themselves and say things like- “I would commit suicide if you leave me” or “I would not eat if you don’t do this for me”.

By doing this, these abusers establish fear in you and use it to control and manipulate your thoughts and actions.

3. Invasion of your privacy

This is often a subtle and hidden sign of emotional abuse. From constantly checking on you to expecting you to share your passwords, an abuser has no respect for your privacy.  “What can seem like a genuine concern is often a way for an emotionally abusive person to be in total control when they are constantly keeping tabs on another person’s schedule. Texting a few times a day to ‘check in’ can turn into relentless harassment. Wanting an ongoing account of another person’s whereabouts, in addition to [a person] limiting where their partner goes or who they spend time with, are powerful examples of emotional abuse”, writes Lisa Ferentz, an Author and President and Founder of the Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education, in her book, ‘Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Trauma Survivors’.

4. Mean ‘jokes’

They would make statements or ‘jokes’ that would hurt or embarrass you and if you get upset they would accuse you of not knowing how to take a joke. And in the end, they would use statements like, “Aw, sweetie! You should develop a sense of humour.”, “Don’t be so sensitive all the time”, “Stop being so serious!”- which will make YOU look like a fool.

5. Gaslighting

You must have heard the quote, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as the truth”, well that’s what gaslighters do. Slowly and persistently they brainwash you into believing ‘their’ reality and doubting yourself, your sanity, your identity, and self-worth.

Shannon Weber very beautifully describes the psychology and tactics of a gaslighter. She writes, “It is not okay for someone you like to treat you poorly and then pretend it didn’t happen, making you question your own grasp on reality. This dynamic is called gaslighting. It’s a common tactic of abusers to shift the focus of the blame from their bad behaviour onto the person they are victimising. One important side effect of gaslighting is having your memory ‘blackout’ after a fight (because your brain is trying to protect you from the cruelty of the abuse), which results in not being able to remember how an argument started. You may start to internalise the idea that there is something wrong with you and that you did something to provoke the situation, as you’re increasingly beaten down and confused.”

6. Being hot and cold

Your partner could be extremely loving one moment and completely distant and unavailable the next, that too for no apparent reason. Once in a while, surely we all do have mood swings, but if this pattern is repeated over and over, it’s a sign of emotional abuse. By being hot and cold, people try to establish control over you and instil fear in you, and later use it for their benefit.

If you observe any of these signs in your relationship, you are probably being emotionally abused. If you can make your abuser work on these problems, well and good. But if you can’t (most abusers would never admit that there is a problem with them), cut ties. Immediately.

No doubt, it would be difficult, but remember, nothing comes before your mental health. Not your partner, friends, and even parents.

Share it with your friends and loved ones to ensure that they don’t become a victim of emotional abuse.

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