How to Recognize an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

by Contributor

Are you made to feel responsible for your partner's behavior. "You made me angry so I couldn't help it," or "Well, if you wouldn't act so stupid, maybe I wouldn't have to point it out to you." Emotional abuse, unlike physical abuse, often goes unnoticed or ignored. Experts consider emotional abuse more dangerous, lasting and widespread. There is no universal definition of emotional abuse. Watch for these signs in your relationship.

Feel diminished in private by your partner's criticism. Notice that your partner is charming and accommodating in public, especially around your friends or family. When you go to a family member or friend about your concerns, what you say appear to be in conflict with what is observed in your partner.

Feel humiliated by your partner's public revelations of private matters or the details of your shortcomings. You are often the brunt of the joke.

Detect that your partner withholds affection, attention or approval. The message is that you are not worthy, which further erodes self-esteem.

Try to "do better" so that your partner will not make good on threats to leave you. You feel increasingly anxious about what you might unwittingly do to drive your partner away.

Observe your complaints or concerns are dismissed. Common responses are, "Can't you take a joke?" or "Why are you making such a big deal of it?"

Discern that you "walk on eggshells" and must not upset your partner. Maintain a constant focus on your partner's needs, rather than your own.

Experience panic attacks, anxiety attacks, feel depressed or have ongoing health problems. An emotionally abusive relationship can make you sick.

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  • If you are being emotionally abused, get help. Contact the Police Department for local resources for counseling and group support.
  • Join an online support group, see website referenced below.

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