Relationships are supposed to be happy! They may have their share of ups and downs, but at the end of the day, they are supposed to be loving and supporting. The sad reality though, is that it isn’t the same always. Where there are happy relationships, there are also depressing, abusive and toxic relationships. One kind that stands out, is an emotionally abusive relationship.
Emotional abuse, although very common, often goes unrecognized and is difficult to understand. Two reasons make it difficult to recognize what emotional abuse is.
- Like physical abuse, there is no physical pain, scars or wounds that you can point out to.
- The abuser shatters the confidence of the victim so much, that they end up thinking it is their fault, that the relationship is abnormal.
Emotional abuse is when a partner, parent, friend tries to control you, puts you down, dictates the terms of your life and shatters your confidence slowly, leaving no trace of evidence. Emotional abuse starts off passively, and with time, grows so strong, that it’s obvious presence cannot be seen by the victim.
Unending criticism, covered with the idea of good intentions. However, unlike criticism in good faith that intends to be constructive, emotionally abusive criticism, is frequent, so much that it is turned into a mantra in the victim’s head, and is most times, not even a matter of concern, but the abuser’s insecurity/inconvenience that he/she wants to see changed. Everything can be criticized, from how one dresses, speaks, breathes or conducts themselves. Most times, the efforts of the victim to “fix” the said flaws, is not seen, but instead blown out of proportion. Bottom line: Emotional abuse, is when everything you do, is wrong. The abuser also prefers pointing such things out in public, amongst close family and friends, to demean, and undermine the victim’s confidence.
Gas lighting is the psychological manipulation, to make it look like the victim is crazy. When a victim is on the verge of realising what emotional abuse is, the abuser goes on to gaslight, meaning he/she portrays their own insecurities as that of the victim’s. Let’s say the abuser is insecure, this becomes, the victim is insecure, and is repeated too often and gas lighted in a way, that the victim ends up blaming themselves. Past situations and memories are openly manipulated, and with a wreaked confidence, the victim doesn’t take long to accept such blatant lies.
Isolation may vary in different relationships. The abuser may want the victim all to themselves, or dictate, who the victim is allowed to have in their lives. Sometimes, the idea is to isolate the victim so much, that he/she has nobody but the abuser to turn to. Sometimes, it is just a limited bunch of people who pass through the abuser’s filter. It is important to remember, that the victim, despite holding free will, often gives in to such demands, due to constant psychological manipulation and wreaked confidence in self. Most times, the abuser paints a negative picture of the world, and stands out as the protector of the victim, thus justifying the isolation. Freedom is often restricted.
Victim blaming. An abuser will always have reasons for being a pain. The mistreatment, infidelity, troubles and abuse, is justified to be a punishment for the victim’s apparent faults. This is also connected to gas lighting.
Egg Shells. An emotionally abusive relationship, makes the victim feel like walking on egg shells constantly. The victim is often too conscious, since the trigger for a fight or disappointment can emerge from any incident or discussion.
A quick google search will give you more information on emotional abuse, but if a relationship tends to puts you down, constantly so, at the risk of your happiness, identity and freedom, watch out for emotional abuse. It is more common than you think, and it isn’t something that only happens in books and movies. Do not justify an abuser’s actions, because abuse of any kind should be unacceptable. Seek help, if need be, and remember, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.