Domestic abuse doesn’t always take the form of physical violence. Emotional abuse may occur in male-female or same-sex relationships, it doesn’t necessitate any sexual intimacy, and it can be extremely harmful.
Abusive relationships can be difficult to define because of its varied nature. The most difficult to catch, is emotional abuse. Is your relationship toxic? Read on to learn more about recognizing the signs.
Unhealthy relationship patterns may be warning signs of potential aggression. People who have experienced domestic violence in their relationships can often identify three-steps of violence:
- The stress-building phase
- The eruption phase
- The honeymoon phase.
The strange and almost curious thing about abusive relationships is that they don’t always start out as abusive.
A researcher put it like this: if you place a frog in boiling water, it will yelp and jump right out. If you place that frog in room temperature water and slowly raise it to a boil, the frog will eventually die without attempting an escape.
This shows that for most people, abusive relationships are a prison they don’t know how to get out of.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
A typical sign of emotional abuse is that the abuser constantly demands to be the center of attention. You must pay attention to them. Otherwise, they get antsy. They start feeling needy and irrational, and they try to regain your attention.
Here’s what you should look out for:
1. The abuser becomes increasingly unreasonable.
When the abuser doesn’t let go of the situation at hand or becomes increasingly unreasonable during arguments, it’s because they were looking for an opportunity to fight with you – and they’ve found it.
Instead of calming down and being rational, they escalate the problem by getting angrier and dismissing any attempt of explanation from you.
2. Verbal humiliation and aggressive behavior increases.
Your partner might make fun of how you walk or talk and make comments on your weight, facial features, and/or personality. Verbal humiliation typically means that whatever comes out of their mouth is bound to hurt you, and may or not include actual swear words.
This is a tactic used to instill fear. The abuser wants you to know that (according to them) you hurt them – and now they want to hurt you right back.
To do this, they begin to act more violent—either verbally or, in worse cases, physically. They might throw things around, slam doors in your face, or even punch a hole in the wall. In this case, it’s important to understand that there may come a point where they won’t just punch the wall – and instead aim their frustrations at you.
3. The abuser makes tons of false accusations.
This is a classic phase in a cycle of mistrust. The abuser starts seeing fault in every interaction their partner may have with everyone – including their coworkers, friends, and even relatives.
They over-scrutinize each interaction that their partner has had with another person and try to break down body language and verbal phases to prove that their partner has been unfaithful.
4. The abuser begins to exert more control.
The last phase is an intrusion, where the abuser oversteps their boundaries and keeps tabs on the victim, monitoring their whereabouts, phone calls, and social interactions.
They might ask for laptop and phone passwords and randomly show up at your place of work. This sort of a person may want to you seek their “permission” when going out. While it is nice to keep your partner in the loop, they demand you to let them know where you are at all times.
Spotting the Characteristics of an Abuser
Negative and potentially abusive people tend to place blame on others for their own misfortunes. These people see fault in everyone and everything. The minute you come under the control of a negative person, they will pick you apart at the seams and focus on all your weaknesses and neglect any strengths.
Some key characteristics of a negative person include:
This person will behave erratically the minute you mention someone else in a conversation – especially if it’s a person of the opposite sex. They’ll make you feel horrible about your actions by getting passive-aggressive, angry, or noticeably quiet.
A negative person sees problems in a situation where there are none. This kind of person has probably been hurt in the past, and assume that you are going to be exactly like their past abuser.
As a result, they will abuse you until you get emotionally deranged. Beware – this person is fond of starting a cycle of misery.
3. Low Self-Esteem
It is no secret that most of us deal with bouts of body negativity, and learning to love yourself is an uphill battle. However, a chronically negative person uses their self-esteem issues to their advantage.
They will do something you dislike and justify it by telling elaborate stories of how much they have always hated themselves – basically guilting you into forgiving them.
Don’t fall prey to a negative person. It has the potential to destroy your life – especially if you are connected or are close friends. Ending all relationships with a negative person (including friendships) is the best option for your mental health.
If you feel that you’re unable to do so, at the very least establish clear boundaries to protect yourself, and stick to them.