Bruises aren’t the only sign of abuse. Emotionally abusive men and women exist and this usually happens in closed doors.
The abusers would leave their victims without visible bruises but their entire personality is damaged by the emotional abuse from spouse or partner.
If someone confesses that they are in an abusive relationship, it’s easy to say that they should leave immediately.
However, that’s not always the case.
“Why do people stay in abusive relationships if they can just leave?”
Unfortunately, most people in abusive relationships find it hard to leave or let go and they have their reasons.
How do you define emotional abuse?
What is emotional abuse and how does it start?
Like many fairy-tale like relationships, everything would start perfectly. You may think that you’ve found the ‘one’ who will be your happily-ever-after.
The story then usually develops rather sour. It is almost always so, that the abuser reveals their less flattering side in a matter of days or weeks, right after the victim is hooked.
Not that there weren’t any signs of it, but they get camouflaged in the period of initial courting and getting to know each other.
Once the victim is in love, the abuse can begin to revolve.
The victim, on the other hand, remembers these days of the abuser’s kindness and calmness. Once exposed to the abuse, to the demeaning and psychological cruelty, the victim searches for the reason for that change in themselves.
And the abuser doesn’t leave them short of “mistakes” to consider as the reason for such abrupt change.
Spouse emotional abuse is more common than you think.
What are the signs of emotional abuse?
Do you feel like you’re a victim of emotional abuse? Most of us have this gut feeling, but we are still holding on to the little chance that we’re not being emotionally abused.
If you feel that there are undeniable signs, yet you still want to be sure, then, here are 50 signs of emotional abuse that you should be aware of.
5 examples of emotional abuse
Are you still doubtful that you’re in an abusive relationship? Maybe these examples of emotional abuse can make you see the reality.
1. Isolates and controls you
They won’t let you be with the people who could support you. This includes meeting your friends, family, and even your workmates. They could also start tracking your every move, making sure that you don’t far away from them.
2. Emotional blackmail is present
Always make you feel guilty if you do something for yourself. They would use your fears, past traumas, and other triggers so they could control you.
3. Starts chaos
If the abuser feels they are losing or they can’t control you, they start chaos. From being calm to going out of control, they will make sure that you will feel bad about everything, and that they will win whatever argument they have.
4. Invalidates you and everything about you
One of the most common signs is that the abuser will slowly invalidate you. From accusing you of being overacting, making things up, attention seeker, and even mentally unstable.
It will come to where you no longer know what you want, what you can do, and what you think is right.
5. Unrealistic expectations
“Come home within 10 minutes or I will lock the door!”
Your abuser knows it takes at least 45 minutes for you to go home, yet the unrealistic expectation was set. They do this because they know it’s impossible that their demands would be met, and it will give them a reason to create chaos.
15 reasons why do people stay in abusive relationships
“Why do I stay in an emotionally abusive relationship?”
It’s painful to realize that you’re in an abusive relationship, but understanding why do people stay in abusive relationships is also undeniably sad.
1. They don’t realize that they are already experiencing emotional abuse
Some people were raised in the same abusive cycle. That’s why they unknowingly attract the same person.
They might not be aware that they are already experiencing emotional abuse, that is why people stay in abusive relationships.
2. People are normalizing unhealthy behaviors
Why do men emotionally abuse women or vice versa? They think they could get away with it. With a little reasoning, some people may even side with the abuser.
Unfortunately, some people are trying to normalize unhealthy behaviors. They might say that your partner is just stressed out or may experience mental health issues, etc.
3. Low self-esteem prevents the victim from leaving
We all know that abuse will strip anyone of their self-respect, self-love and self-esteem, right? This will cause them to feel scared to move on and leave their abusive partners.
4. They become hopeful when the honeymoon stage starts again
The cycle of tension, conflict, and honeymoon stages will bring anyone into a whirlwind romance. Every time they want to leave, their abuser would take them back to the honeymoon stage, where they feel believe the lies and empty promises again.
5. Victims think that they are capable of changing their partners
Staying in an emotionally abusive marriage or partnership gives the victim the sense of obligation. They believe that they can change their partners if they become patient, understanding, and loving.
They will never change.
How do you connect with other people? Did you know that we all have different Attachment Styles? Here, Steph Anya, LMFT, explains the different types of attachment style and how it works.
6. They are afraid of leaving
Blackmail, and sometimes, even physical abuse is present. There could also be threats and if their partner is out of control, their lives might be at stake.
This would instill fear to the victim, making it almost impossible to escape.
7. The cycle of control is a deep trap
Another answer to why do people stay in emotionally abusive relationships is that the abused partner starts justifying all the horrible things their abusive partner is doing. The abused becomes the emotional hostage in a relationship.
However, staying in an emotionally abusive relationship leaves the emotionally abused partner as a helpless, low on confidence and confused individual stuck in a toxic relationship.
8. Society pressures them to “try again”
“Give your partner another chance.”
This is very common in an abusive setting. Since they don’t know what’s going on, it’s easier to advise people to be a little more patient and try to work out the relationship.
9. They feel they caused their partners to be abusive
Because of the emotional abuse, even the victim’s perception of reality becomes distorted. There are many cases where the victims feel they caused the change and the abuse, thus deciding to stay and would try to ‘fix’ things.
10. The victims don’t to waste all the years
Staying in an emotionally abusive marriage may be because of how long they have been together. Some people feel hurt, just thinking that all the years they have spent together will go down the drain.
11. The victim is afraid of what society will say
Community, family, and religion also play a big part why some people stay in abusive relationships. In cases, they are afraid of being scrutinized by the society they live in.
12. They are so used to doing things together
Unfortunately, a part of being emotionally abused is depending on your partner. Since the abuser isolates their victims, they end up being dependent.
Leaving the abusive relationship also means that the victim will stand on her own and do everything by themselves. This is hard, especially when they’ve lived together for a long time.
13. It’s hard to leave if you don’t have work
One of the top reasons victims choose to stay is because of money. Often, they don’t have their own money, and if you have kids, this will be almost impossible to pull off.
14. Victims don’t have a strong support if they decide to leave
Strong support is needed if you are to pack your bags and leave your abuser. But what if you don’t have any?
Where would you turn to? How will you start over again? It’s hard when you don’t have people who will support you.
15. They don’t want to be a broken family
A person may choose to stay in an abusive relationship because of the kids. They feel scared that the children will grow up with a broken family.
Unbeknownst to these victims, the cycle will be passed on to their kids.
Impact of emotional abuse on the victim
If that is the case, one question arises, why do people stay in abusive relationships?
It forms a cycle.
What usually happens is that we witnessed a similar pattern of behavior in our primary families. Or our parents were emotionally abusive towards us.
As children, we figured out that love in an emotionally abusive relationship comes with insults and demeaning, and if we wait for it and take the hits, we will get the wonderful honeymoon period in which we will be convinced that our parents loved us.
Are we prone to seek such relationships?
The truth is, we are not. But, the truth is also that we have learned to be in emotionally abusive relationships early in our childhood and we are prone to seek them.
Even when it makes us feel horrible and it hinders our development, since we learned to associate affection with emotional abuse, we will unconsciously search for partners who will be emotionally abusive.
5 tips if you’re dealing with emotional abuse
1. Prioritize yourself
You cannot save a relationship if a partner’s concerns or demands do not align with your integrity.
Your personal well-being should be your highest priority and an emotionally abusive partner who diminishes you should be completely off the table in your scheme of things.
Sometimes, the abuser could change, with some professional help, if they show real intention to do so. So, leaving an emotionally abusive relationship may not necessarily be the only thing you could try. Or, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the only thing you will try.
2. Set the limits yourself and regain control over yourself
It’s important to regain control over yourself, over how you see yourself and how you think of yourself.
Ask yourself, “Am I in an emotionally abusive relationship?”
Set the limits yourself. Determine which line you won’t cross for your partner.
Be honest and accepting towards yourself, and then be direct with your partner about your insights and decisions. And, finally, surround yourself with people and experiences that respect and honor who you are.
3. Don’t blame yourself
It’s never your fault that you loved the wrong person. It’s not your fault that you’re in an abusive relationship. Lastly, remember that there is nothing wrong with you.
Blaming yourself will not help you. It’s time to get yourself together, and be strong.
4. Do need engage when your abuser triggers you
Why do people stay in abusive relationships yet they also try to engage when their abuser triggers them?
You may think that you’re standing up for yourself, but you’re not. You’re adding fuel to the fire if you do this. If you can, be quiet, and just walk away.
5. Accept the fact that they can’t be fixed
It’s now or never. This is the time to break the cycle and accept the fact that staying in an emotionally abusive relationship will not change your partner. Please stop and focus on yourself, it is a lost cause.
How to heal from emotional abuse?
Is it still possible to heal if you are a victim of emotional abuse?
Healing from emotional abuse is not a walk in the park. Your abuser will try to regain control, so be ready. You will need all the support that you can get.
Healing starts from within. Accept what you can’t control, and work on yourself. Seek professional help if you need to, but make sure you focus on healing and moving forward.
FAQs about emotionally abusive relationships
Now that we are starting to understand why do people stay in abusive relationships, there are still so many questions that we want to be answered.
1. What should you do if you think you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship?
Break the cycle. That’s the best course of action to take if you think you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.
How to break the cycle of an emotionally abusive relationship?
The easy answer is – leave the emotionally abusive relationship. And this is, at the same time, this is the hardest thing to do.
But, how do you leave an emotionally abusive relationship? It is important that you decide to walk out from a place of power, don’t leave from a place of fear.
You need to put it across to your partner explicitly that you cannot engage in any conversation that attacks your dignity. You need to stop doing things to keep the peace in the relationship.
2. Why is it hard to recognize emotional abuse?
Why do people stay in abusive relationships? Is it because they are in denial?
Most of the time, emotionally abusive relationships may or may not appear as such from the outside. Emotional abuse is sometimes so subtle that no one, not the victim, not the abuser, and not the environment, recognizes that it is happening.
Yet, even in such cases, it has detrimental effects on everyone involved and needs to be addressed in a healthy manner so that the partners can both grow and thrive.
All the reasons why it is hard to leave an emotionally abusive relationship.
We were not born prone to emotionally abusive relationships, but once we got into the cycle, it can last a lifetime – if we don’t do something about breaking the vicious cycle of an emotionally abusive relationship.
3. How is emotional abuse different from physical abuse?
Physical abuse, consist of any form of abuse caused to the body. It causes trauma, physical pain. Emotional abuse is when a person uses tactics to control another person. They would manipulate, threaten, embarrass, intimidate shame, frighten, criticize, and blame.
If that’s the case, then why would someone stay in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship?
It’s because emotional abuse usually starts from the very beginning of the relationship, although it tends to gradually become more severe over time. In some instances, it is a prelude to physical or sexual abuse.
Nonetheless, an emotional abuser almost always presents him or herself as a magical and mesmerizing person at the onset of the relationship. They are gentle, charming, caring, understanding, and affectionate.
The abuser reveals their less flattering side much later.
4. How does abuse affect a person’s mental health?
It is difficult for the victim to leave, and ultimately, over time, staying in an emotionally abusive marriage or relationship will affect a person’s mental health.
It starts with days of yearning to be adored by the abuser. You wait for the person to change or think they would.
Then, there are days of abuse are always followed by a period of calm, or even more so, by a honeymoon period in which the abuser resembles the person the victim fell in love with.
And this is an addictive state of mind that evokes endless hope that this will now go on. Unfortunately, it never ends.
Furthermore, the victim of emotional abuse is gradually robbed of their self-esteem. They feel unworthy of love and respect, they feel stupid and incompetent, they feel dull and uninteresting.
It is impossible to start all over again, as they feel that they cannot be loved by anyone. And, often, they feel as if they would be incapable of loving anyone else ever again.
The cycle of control in an abusive relationship is such that it makes it almost impossible for the victim to leave. There is no physical abuse involved to be entirely sure that the partner is an abuser. Excuses can be made up easily.
And with diminishing self-confidence, the victim begins to believe that what the abuser is saying is the only reality there is.
When, in the matter of fact, it is always a heavily skewed image of the victim and the relationship, one that makes it impossible for the victim to simply leave the abuser.
Staying in an emotionally abusive relationship will strip a person of their self-love, self-respect, self-compassion, and self-worth.
Emotional abuse from spouse or partner is never acceptable. No one deserves to be a victim of abuse.
Why do people stay in abusive relationships? It’s because they are afraid, but if you know you’re in an abusive relationship, then start building up the courage to let go and move forward.
Always tell yourself that all of us deserve respect, love, and happiness.
No one should take this away from you. You deserve more.