We need to talk about emotional abuse.
An emotionally abusive relationship can be just as damaging as a physically abusive one, but the signs can be even harder to recognize. It’s common for victims of emotional abuse to believe they are at fault or are making it all up. This is because abusers tend to gaslight victims and invalidate their feelings. If you think you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s important to recognize that your feelings are valid. You are not overreacting or bringing it upon yourself. Nobody deserves to be treated poorly by a loved one, in any kind of relationship. If you’re uncertain if your significant other is abusive, these are some signs that can be indicative of emotional abuse:
- Your partner frequently puts you down or makes fun of you
- Isolates you from family and friends
- Accuses you of being “too sensitive”
- Controls your money and spending
- Is irrationally/unreasonably jealous
- Deflects blame for their actions and makes you feel at fault
- Invalidates or denies past behaviors
- Makes threats
- Is emotionally distant/unresponsive
If your partner exhibits a few or all of these signs, it’s time to leave that relationship. Though that can feel nearly impossible, it can be done. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and happiness. Tell your friends and family what’s happening to you. You have the strength to leave. You can do it. We need to talk about emotional abuse more, so that victims of it can better recognize when they’re being mistreated. Often, the restrictive ways in which we consider gender conditions us to excuse or ignore certain behaviors, making it unnecessarily difficult to acknowledge this kind of abuse. Since emotional abuse doesn’t leave physical evidence of its harm, it’s vital that victims believe in themselves and feel validated in their experiences. It’s important to know that you are not alone.
If you are a friend to someone in an emotionally abusive relationship, be supportive. Do not judge your friend for staying in their relationship — victims have an extremely difficult time leaving abusive relationships for many reasons, and this is a step that will need constant encouragement, support and love to happen.