Mental abuse can strike at any moment during our lives and can have serious consequences. Being in a mentally abusive relationship is often talked about in casual conversations, but do we really have a grasp of what it means or how serious it is? Any act such as confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation and intimidation all can be considered abuse. Additionally, any treatment that damages a person’s identity, self-confidence and self-worth are equated to abuse. Mental abuse is crafty and the victim rarely notices it. Often times the person knows that they are being wronged. Yet, they take it with the hopes of one day it will get better. It is like going on a hike in an unknown country without a compass. You are going through life blindly, never knowing what is going to happen next—this is what a mentally abusive relationship is like. This is not to mention the emotional rollercoaster that you are on. One moment they love you and then the next they are bad mouthing you. These moments could always escalate into physical abuse. If you want to avoid this elusive enemy, check out 8 ways to identify if you are in a mentally abusive relationship.
They make you walk on eggshells.
One sign to look for in a mentally abusive relationship is being punished for not doing things correctly and the way they want you to do it. Manipulation is at the center of this kind of relationship. This constant emotional roller coaster ride of being afraid to speak up or stand up for yourself is diminished by a rapid sense of fear. This fear causes you to not want to confront them as it could set off their temper.
They make you feel shame.
A person who is abusing you makes you feel guilty for the pain that they have afflicted upon you. They believe that you brought it on yourself. An emotional abuser doesn’t want to hear about your pain, except to reinforce that “you deserve whatever pain you feel. That you’ve brought it on yourself, or that it’s your deserved destiny to feel bad about yourself,” Vixen Daily shared. If they are exhibiting bad behavior and blaming you for their actions--this is a clear indication that you are in a mentally abusive relationship.
They isolate you.
Isolation is a tool where your partner doesn’t want you going out with friends or family. They may not like it, but they have no right to prohibit it. Many people are so possessive and jealous that they feel the need to isolate the person they are with. They may say that they care more about you more than your family or friends do. This is to keep you within eyesight. They fear that you will be exposed to their thoughts and that you might leave them. Don’t be fooled by this tactic.
They control the money.
Money is power and this is common in a mentally abusive relationship. If they can control the money flow or shadow you on everything you buy--this is abuse. We are not talking about being on a budget. We are talking about being in a relationship where you are held captive and not allowed access to money. Victims are often too afraid to inquire about opening an account or asking where the money is going out of fear of starting a fight.
They put you down.
If you think you are being mistreated verbally, you probably are! One way to psychologically beat you down is to call you names and to make other nasty remarks that are unsettling. We all get into fights, but there is a line. If they are constantly belittling you in public or at home—this is a mentally abusive relationship. They’ll make remarks like you’re exaggerating or it’s your fault. Remember that a sign of an abuser is blaming the person they are abusing.
They can’t handle feedback.
A way to identify a mentally abusive relationship is to see if they can handle negative feedback. Most people will attempt to see your side of things. Tell the person how you feel in a non-threatening way that their behavior is hurtful. However, if the exchange becomes heated and if you feel threatened you may need to walk away or call someone for assistance.
They make you feel trapped.
Anytime you feel trapped because someone is controlling your personal items like your phone or your car, get out. It will not get better and this control can be dangerous. They are holding you hostage and will control more aspects of your life. They might tell you that you can’t make it alone and that you need them. If you feel trapped reach out to someone for support. If you feel that you are cut off from the world—you probably are. You don’t need permission to come and go.
They make you feel it is not abuse.
People erroneously believe that being in a mentally abusive relationship is not as bad as being in a physically abusive relationship. Abusers make you believe that what they are doing to you is fine, but don't let them! We can’t diminish the impact of any abuse. Just because you can’t see the bruises does not mean there isn’t damage. As with any abuse, it can contribute to depression, anxiety, hopelessness and a low self-esteem. Abuse can lead to emotional trauma with long-lasting effects on the victim.
Many times people don’t realize what damage they are doing to another person with their words and their actions. Nevertheless, this is not a justification to treat someone with little respect. Create your own checklist to see if you are in a mentally abusive relationship. If you think the relationship has the markings of abuse--reach out to someone who can empower you and help you.