As wonderful as a loving and secure relationship can be, an emotionally abusive relationship can be pure hell for the victim. Sometimes it can be tricky to know if you're in this type of unhealthy dynamic as an aspect of it often involves "crazymaking" behavior, where the controlling partner manipulates the situation to knock the other off balance psychologically. You might even wonder if you're going crazy!
If you feel like you "walk on eggshells" around your partner to avoid blow-ups or as though your self-esteem has diminished over the course of the relationship, these are both red flags.
Here are five more signs you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship:
1) Your partner frequently criticizes or humiliates you.
2) Your partner isolates you from your family and friends.
3) Your partner limits or controls your access to money.
4) You feel trapped in your relationship.
5) You're afraid of your partner.
The “cycle of abuse" usually involves a kind of repetitive looping consisting of four phases:
1) Tension Building: The receiver gets the sense that the abuser is upset and takes active steps to placate him/her.
2) Incident: Verbal or emotional abuse occurs – consisting of threats, humiliation, blaming, intimidation, etc.
3) Reconciliation: Abuser apologizes, minimizes the abuse, blames the receiver, denies it occurred, etc.
4) Calm: No abuse taking place, often called the “honeymoon phase.”
This cycle has the effect of eventually breaking the person down emotionally. It can happen quickly for some – and take years for others.
If you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, make sure to take steps to protect yourself. Have a safety plan intact and increase your support network. If you suspect your partner has the capability to become physically violent and you fear for your safety call 911.
For help and advice on escaping an abusive relationship, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).