Nobody deserves to be abused, either physically or emotionally.
Although, physical abuse is easy to identify, recognizing emotional and mental abuse is not easy.
What is mental abuse
Mental abuse definition in the general sense can be characterized as exposure to behavior that may cause psychological trauma, including severe anxiety, chronic depression, or PTSD. Emotional abuse or mental abuse in relationships includes confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, and intimidation.
Symptoms of emotional abuse often go undetected by family, friends and even the victim themselves and it is not until serious damage has been done do people realize.
This is because it is very subtle and is often confused with being ‘caring’ or ‘romantic.’ It also goes unnoticed because the victim is desperate to believe that their partner loves them, cares about them and only wants the best for them. Mental abuse is gradual and may lead to irreversible results.
It tends to remove all happiness from the victim’s life, deteriorate their mental-health and feeling of well-being, push them into a feeling of self-doubt and shame to the point where the victim eventually wants to end their life.
Here are a few glaring signs of mental abuse in a relationship
If you feel you are subjected to any of these signs of mental and emotional abuse, you need to confront your partner about the mentally abusive relationship, talk to a friend or simply leave this toxic relationship before it leads to a disaster.
1. Your partner humiliates you every chance they get
Abusers tend to humiliate and insult their partner by making mean jokes and judging negatively.
Mental abuse signs include being talked down to and even receiving back-handed compliments, where lines between insults and compliments are blurred.
They will criticize you for your looks or the way you dress when both of these are something only you should have a say in. It is okay to seek advice or suggestions from your partner and there are ways for them to tell you it is not as appealing rather than bashing you, insulting you and pressuring you into what they want instead.
One of the signs of a mentally abusive relationship is that the abusive partner would also refuse to acknowledge your strengths and belittle your accomplishments.
They don’t care if it is done in private or in a group of people, they will do it in the hopes of crushing your self-esteem so that you are more dependent upon them.
It is also commonly seen when called out for such behavior, they will claim it to be mere ‘jokes’ and tell you that you are simply too sensitive or don’t have a sense of humor.
2. They require constant check-ins and invade personal space
One of the most confusing traits about abusive partners is that they shut you down in person but want to keep a close check on you when you are away.
The verbal and mental abuse is often confused with care or jealousy driven by care. They are constantly texting you to know about your whereabouts or who you are with and tend to get upset when you don’t answer.
When you are mentally abused, the abusive partner would want constant updates and try to limit who you hang out with or where you go.
Such people even keep an eye on what you do on your phone or computer, never leaving any hint of privacy in your life. They may be triggered by seeing you talk to others, particularly of the opposite sex and make you feel guilty for doing something as simple as interacting with others.
3. You are always in a state of guilt, doubt or anxiety
This is one of the biggest signs of mental abuse.
If going through emotional abuse, you will eventually begin to be always in a state of anxiety, discomfort and afraid to do anything that may offend, upset or disappoint your partner solely for fear of being criticized and yelled at.
One of the signs of an abusive relationship, you will find yourself in a feeling of ‘walking on eggshells’ which means always being careful about trivial matters. The abuser will always make you feel guilty for their wrong behavior and blame you for whatever they do.
4. They manipulate and gaslight you
Gaslighting is said to be a form of psychological abuse that leads you to mistrust and doubt your own interpretations and experiences of reality.
You may get the feeling that their statements contradict their previous ones or they may deny something that you clearly remember but they do it with such confidence that you begin to question yourself.
This form of lying, arguing or confusing will eventually lead you to a destabilized sense of solidity and competence until you no longer trust what you know is the truth.
They may use this to manipulate you into getting their own way. They may also threaten you to further manipulate you such as hurting themselves, tell you that will leave and blaming you as the cause of their pain.
Spousal mental abuse is all about gaining control in the relationship.
The abuser will want to keep you on a leash that will get shorter and shorter as long as you allow it.
Constant psychological or emotional abuse raises insecurity and self-doubt in the victim.
If you spot the above-shared signs of mental abuse in your relationship with your partner, you need to discuss with your partner about it and see if they are willing to change and seek help.
If not, it is best to leave this marriage as soon as you can, because nothing is greater than your emotional health and happiness. Self-care is self-preservation.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.