If someone treats you like crap, just remember that there’s something wrong with them, not you. Normal people don’t go around destroying other human beings.”
Psychological abuse, often called emotional abuse, is characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Wikipedia
Both Verbal abuse and Emotional abuse are insidious and may not always be easy to recognize. We often hear about Abusive relationships but they usually refer to Physical abuse. Physical abuse is what makes the headlines and what people are arrested for; that is what restraining orders are given for.
If you hear someone talking about their partner and how upset they are, they don’t know what to do and it is so difficult, you may ask what is wrong. When they try to explain it to you it may be difficult for them to express it in such a way that you will understand the trauma they are feeling. Quite often we may not take it seriously.
We may be inclined to think it is just someone having a bad day or going through a “rough patch” in their relationship which will pass by and everything will get better. It is easy for us to give them easy answers telling them it will get better, just give it a little time and then it is over in our mind; we move on. Sadly, we may never ask them about it the next time we see them or talk to them. Sadder yet is they may feel we do not care or they are embarrassed and don’t want to bring it up again.
Even worse is when they do not even realize themselves that anything is wrong. They never mention it, we do not see the effects it is having, and life and the abuse goes on.
When you start a new relationship everyone is on their best behavior.
It is new and exciting. We are happy and we want it to work. It is very difficult to recognize someone who has the tendency to be abusive because they are very good at not showing that side of them when in a new situation. They will usually be on their best behavior when out in public.
” They may, in fact, speak very kind words to you. And appear nothing but supportive to those around you. Their covert abuse is administered in small, cunning ways over time. So the impact is gradual, not fist-to-the-eye immediate.” – Augusten Burroughs
As the relationship evolves that is when the abuse will slowly seep into our every day normal activities. Something as simple as not putting a dish in the sink or not putting the cap on the toothpaste is enough to be criticized for. We brush it off and try not to do it again. If we make light of it and make a laughing retort their response will be much stronger and turn it around to blame you. Something like, “Are you making fun of me ? How dare you laugh at me.” “This is serious, do as you’re told; don’t act like a child”.
As time goes by this type of verbal and emotional abuse will continue and get increasingly worse. It will be a progressive, continual process where you become gradually used to it, so much so that we do not even realize it is happening. We may secretly question it once in awhile but quickly brush it aside.
To the person who is being abused, especially long term, they do not truly recognize what has happened. They may not feel well sometimes, have headaches or problems with their overall well being. They may lose interest in doing things they once loved to do, they may lose friendships and not realize why. Things that were important before do not receive the attention they once did. You may lose or gain weight. You may get passed over for a promotion at work because you are no longer able to put in the same quality work effort.
Quite often the abused person ends up losing their self esteem; their self confidence is gone. A once vibrant person who was happy and enjoyed life slowly turns into someone who does not smile and may find it difficult to complete things they once thrived on doing. They may be the happiest, most secure, when they are home and away from other people. Sadly, they will likely feel dependent on the person that is the abuser. That is just what the abuser wants.
“Emotional violence is another kind of abuse … it’s not about words because an emotionally abusive person doesn’t always resort to using the verbal club, but rather the verbal untraceable poison” – Augusten Burroughs
So how do you recognize that you are in this type of abusive relationship ? How do you end the relationship ?
Sadly, some people will never recognize they are in an abusive relationship. If someone else does not recognize the situation and step in to help them they may live the rest of their life with the same person and the same abuse.
Depending on the type of person you are, or used to be before the abuse, something may happen that makes you realize. It may trigger something inside you that you says’enough is enough”. I cannot live this way any longer.
Maybe you have a child and the abuser starts to abuse the child. You recognize what is happening and understand the effects. You could not see it in yourself but you can see it in your child.
Perhaps someone who cares does recognize that something is wrong. It could be a parent or family member trying to step in to help you. It could be your priest or minister who recognizes that something is wrong and questions you.
When that happens what do you do ? It will be different for each person and it may be a very difficult decision. You may want to try to “fix” it and that is certainly an option but one that should be taken with great care. If you want to fix it you should seek professional help for both people. Both people are broken at this point so they both need to be fixed. You may never know or understand why the person became an abuser and it may not be possible to fix them.
Quite often someone who has been abused long term will be “programmed” to the abuse and will have to guard against entering into another abusive relationship. That is another very good reason to seek professional help. You will need to understand the abuse, the cycle it takes, and the signs to look for. If you see them, you should run as fast a you can to get away from another abusive experience.
Usually, it is better to end the relationship and to do so quickly. Walk away and end all contact. It will be too easy to be drawn back in because the abuser is usually a master manipulator. They will know you well and they will know how to control you. Do not give them that opportunity. You may be fearful; particularly of the abuser. That is normal.
A bad relationship is like standing on broken glass, if you stay you will keep hurting. If you walk away, you will hurt but eventually you will heal.”Autumn Kohler
Take back control of your life. Move if you have to, change your phone number and all your social media. Talk to your friends and family and tell them, beg them, not to give the abuser any information about you, nothing. Build a new life. Take time, be careful of your choices, and be happy.
You are starting a new chapter in your life and you are the one to decide what you want to do. What activity did you really like to do before ? Maybe you can do that again. Maybe it was something creative, like drawing, or physical, like Yoga. Do that or try something new. Go on vacation; where have you dreamed about going ?
When you are ready to talk about what happened; let it all out and get rid of it; just like throwing out the trash. By doing so you are also building something brand new. You. Maybe you can talk to a support group with other people who have experienced the same thing. Maybe a circle of really good friends, or just one, who you would be comfortable sharing you story. Maybe writing it all down in a journal if you are not ready to talk about it yet.
Be positive. You have an opportunity to rewrite your life. Something that most people will never have, or take the opportunity, to do. You are strong, you are a survivor. Congratulations.
As always, Thank You for reading my blog. Have a wonderful day.
This is an updated repost of Recognizing Verbal and Emotional Abuse