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A disquieting 48% of both men and women have experienced some form of emotional abuse. Yet, we often tend to downplay the seriousness of emotional abuse; some people will even try to deny its existence. However, if the numbers are to be believed, emotional abuse is not only real, it’s also a reality many people face daily. Emotional abuse is much more subtle than physical abuse; many people in emotionally abusive relationships do not realize they’re being abused. For this reason, it is important to know the signs of an emotionally abusive partner.

Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship:

Recognizing an emotionally abusive relationship can be challenging, even for those in an emotionally abusive relationship. If your significant other is controlling, invalidating, intimidating, or emotionally manipulative, you are almost certainly in an unhealthy relationship. 

Controlling Behaviors: 

Abusive significant others may attempt to exert control over you by denying you freedom over your appearance. You may be expected to dress a certain way or style your hair according to their standards. Abusers may also attempt to exert control by limiting their significant other’s time with family and friends, or banning it altogether. Excessively monitoring your email and social media accounts, going through your phone, and tracking your movements through GPS, are also signs of an abusive relationship.

Invalidating Behaviors:

In emotionally abusive relationships, the abusive party will typically invalidate your feelings and experiences. An abusive partner may claim that you’re too sensitive or being irrational. Abusive partners may dismiss your thoughts and opinions as illogical or crazy. They may try to minimize their inappropriate behavior by suggesting that you’re making a big deal out of things. Or, they may try to suggest that their abusive behavior didn’t happen at all. 


Intimidating Behaviors:

Yelling, name-calling, threatening, and other forms of verbal abuse are often present in emotionally abusive relationships. Many abusive partners suffer from extreme mood swings. This leads victims of emotional abuse to frequently feel as though they’re walking on eggshells in an attempt to avoid their significant other’s unpredictable moods.


Emotionally Manipulative Behaviors:

Abusive partners will find ways to emotionally manipulate you into doing what they want. Emotional manipulation can encapsulate a wide variety of behaviors like humiliation, gaslighting, and withholding affection as a form of punishment. These behaviors lead victims to feel as though they’re the one with the problem, not the abuser.

Fixing Them Isn’t Possible:

Even after reading about signs of emotional abuse, victims may attempt to make excuses for their significant other’s inappropriate behavior. It can be hard for people to come to terms with the fact that the person they love is abusive. Sadly, some people even blame themselves, reasoning that they must have done something to deserve the abuse. This self-blame can lead victims to be too ashamed to reach out.

If your significant other is behaving inappropriately toward you, it is important for you to know that their behavior isn’t your fault. Tragically, it is common for victims of abuse to walk on eggshells in an attempt to correct their abuser’s behavior. However, there is nothing you can do to fix your partner’s abusive behavior. The best way to protect yourself from an emotionally abusive significant other is to leave immediately. Do not wait for your partner to change his or her ways. Do not give an abuser a second chance. Most people who are abusive have personality disorders, deep-rooted trauma, or addictions that fuel their behavior. In order to change, they need to recognize that they have a problem, and get professional help. Even though you love them, you will not be able to heal them.

When Leaving Isn’t Easy:

As a human being, you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect—even if it means leaving the person you married. But leaving is often easier said than done. If you need help leaving an unhealthy marriage, we can offer support. Jill Coil and her team at CoilLaw have extensive experience in navigating divorces where emotional abuse is present. We can guide you through the separation process so you can look forward to a brighter future. 


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