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Warning Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Warning Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

According to noted Psychotherapist Esther Perel, in relationship, we require two things: stability and desire.[1] We want to know that our partner has our back and that we can depend on them.

So what happens if your partner doesn’t show up in this way? What if your partner’s words and actions even seem a little mean or hostile?

There are many forms of abuse and sometimes, one can experience more than one of these by an abuser. The first thing that comes to mind usually is physical abuse or domestic violence; however, there are other forms of abuse that can go overlooked and not addressed because they don’t bear the same physical marks. This can result in the emotional abuse going on for years undetected.

There is no discrimination in abuse with regards to age, gender, socioeconomic status, education or ethnicity, anyone can become a victim of abuse. Awareness of the forms of abuse can allow you to spot them and stop the abuse as soon as possible.

What Is an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

Psychological abuse, often called emotional abuse, is also a form of abuse. Emotional abuse can result in trauma, anxiety or depression. This form of abuse is likely more common than physical abuse and consists of any behavior designed to hurt another person emotionally.

Why is emotional abuse so harmful? It has negative and long-lasting effects on an individual’s self-esteem.

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Verbal abuse can be used to manipulate and degrade someone that can leave them feeling powerless and confused. Victims of emotional abuse actually start to believe their abuser resulting in feeling shame and doubtful about themselves and their self-worth.

Financial abuse is also a form of emotional abuse. Have you heard the saying “He who holds the money holds the power”? When someone uses financial means to control another person, this is also a form of abuse. Signs of financial abuse include things like restricting access to money, credit cards and bank accounts.

Emotional abuse will usually start out small so that the abuser can determine how far the victim will allow them to go. Over time, the abuse can build until it becomes very frightening and debilitating for the victim. The cycle perpetuates itself and only continues to worsen, ultimately leading to further abuse and heightened fears. This ultimately paralyzes the victim, making it very difficult to share the abuse with friends or loved ones.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

If you find yourself or anyone you love having the signs below, it’s time to muster your courage and face the issue:

  • Humiliation, criticizing and yelling – When someone frequently humiliates you, either publicly or privately, this can be a sign of abuse. Do you always feel that you’re wrong or that you can’t do anything right because of comments your partner makes?
  • Threatening – If someone threatens you and you fear for your safety even if they never act on it, this can be a sign of abuse.
  • Imitating or making fun of – There is a difference between poking fun at and joking at someone else’s expense. This is usually done by the abuser to make them feel better about themselves and more superior.
  • Ignoring or isolating – This can be used as a form of punishment. Being ignored by someone you love is painful.
  • Gaslighting – Manipulating someone so much that they think they are going insane.
  • Controlling and lecturing – Treating someone as though they are child and preventing them from doing things they desire, and lecturing them for having these desires.
  • Accusations and blame – The abuser doesn’t take any responsibility, and blames his victim for anything and everything that goes wrong.

My Personal Experience with Abuse

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced emotional abuse myself in the form of financial abuse. I was married for 13 years to a man who controlled me with money.

The sad thing is that I didn’t even realize it until I was out of the marriage. I found myself doubting my worth and was so beaten down that I justified his actions all while feeling unfulfilled in my relationship.

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Here are some examples from my abusive relationship. I wasn’t allowed to touch the thermostat in my home as I didn’t pay the mortgage or phone bill (Controlling). While grocery shopping, my personal hygiene items like deodorant or tampons were separated from the family groceries so that I could pay for them myself (Humiliation). He never wanted to combine our finances so, on occasion, I would have to borrow money from my husband. He would then require me to postdate checks to him and place them on the mirror in our bedroom as a reminder until I paid him back (Humiliation).

I must point out that my ex-husband did not exhibit these behaviors toward me at the beginning of our relationship. There were no “red flags” that alerted me to the forthcoming abuse that I was to confront. It was a gradual progression that occurred after our first son was born and continued to escalate 4 years later after our second son was born.

I was ultimately controlled by my ex-husband and made to feel inadequate and wrong until it was simply unbearable for me.

Although I attempted to seek help through counseling, my ex-husband was simply not willing to change. It was only at the very end when I asked him for a divorce that he was even remotely interested in discussing his behavior. By that point, I simply had too much respect for myself to succumb to any false promises from him.

In the end, it was a very long struggle to find my voice and the strength to stand up for myself and say, enough is enough.

How to Move Beyond an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

If you feel that you’re being emotionally abused, trust your instincts.

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Realize that you’re not responsible. You can’t control what someone else does. But now that you’re aware of the situation, it’s time to take your power back. Take control of your life and find help if you need it.

1. Set Boundaries

First, identify what your boundaries are. What are you willing to accept for your emotional and physical limits? And what makes you feel stressed or uncomfortable?

The only way to set good boundaries is to know where you stand. Your partner isn’t a mind reader, so you need to communicate your feelings and boundaries in a direct straightforward way.

Setting boundaries is a sign of a healthy relationship and you should each be willing to honor them.

2. Remove Yourself from the Situation

The ease of doing this will depend on your situation. Before you leave, be sure to have an exit strategy in place. If you feel that you could be in danger, this will keep you safe while you prepare to get everything in order so you can leave for good.

Speak with friends and family that you trust about your plan to leave and seek assistance. Always remember… You’re not alone!

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There are many organizations available to help you. If you’re worried about how you will financially support yourself or where you will go, don’t worry, there are shelters available to assist you with all of this every step of the way.

3. Seek Assistance from Friends, Family and Professional Counselors If Needed

A few places to seek assistance include your church, a counselor, or you can find a therapist at GoodTherapy.org.

If your relationship is very abusive, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at TheHotline.org.

Final Thoughts

Not only is it possible to survive an abusive relationship, but also you can thrive and be healthy and happy.

Be sure you have the support you need and make yourself a priority. Realize your self-worth. Self-care is very important in the healing process.

When you set boundaries to eliminate the abuse or choose to leave, you’re in control of your life better. You’re also empowering yourself and practicing self-love at the same time.

Always remember that you are in charge of your life and have the power of choice on your side. Don’t let others diminish your light or power. You’re stronger than you know!

Featured photo credit: Max Rovensky via unsplash.com

Reference

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Dana Lam

Dana is a busy mom of two boys, author and co-founder of the Surprise Date Challenge.

How to Overcome Trust Issues in a Relationship (And Learn to Love Again) How to Build Loyalty in Your Relationship Why Your Relationship Has Become Boring (And How to Fix It) Warning Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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