Love, Heartbreak

10 Warning Signs You're In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Photo: Kevin Laminto via Unsplash
Signs Of Emotional Abuse Or Toxic Relationship

Are you noticing signs of emotional abuse or domestic abuse in your relationship but you're not quite sure what to make of it?

Do you minimize how badly you've been treated and have become hooked into feeling sorry for your abuser? You may be in a toxic relationship.

RELATED: 7 Things That Look Like Love (But Are Actually Emotional Abuse)

When you've suffered abuse or abandonment, you can internalize that something is wrong with you. So you end up looking for love in order to escape these feelings.

The problem is that you attract all you know — what is familiar and not good for you.

You can be drawn to those who reflect the way you feel about yourself and put up with things that are not good for you if you feel undeserving of real love. You're drawn towards toxic and unhealthy relationships but you're probably unaware of it.

If you beat yourself up, emotionally, you can subconsciously put up with a partner who also berates you. If you don't feel good about yourself, you can be attracted to someone who doesn't treat you well because it resonates with the way you treat yourself.

You can repeat the pattern of pleasing an abuser in the hope of getting the love you want. The more you turn to an abuser and an abusive relationship to feel good enough, the more you end up not feeling good about yourself when they devalue the person you are.

So, it's important to recognize the various emotional abuse signs in toxic relationships, and here are 10 of them.

1. You must comply or obey

Does your partner expect you to meet all their needs, otherwise, you'll get punished? You may suffer the silent treatment or verbal abuse if you step out of line.

Do they expect you to do what they say, meet all their demands, and take care of them? Do you get punished or abused for not toeing the line?

Do you feel you have no rights as a person and any attempts to assert yourself causes you to be punished in some way so that it's safer to comply and give up on yourself to avoid the abuse?

2. They control you

When your partner attempts to control you as a way to manage how they feel, it's a definite indicator of an abusive and toxic relationship. They can control your behavior to prevent themselves from feeling abandoned.

They can monitor whom you go out with, or monitor your whereabouts in order to prevent themselves from feeling jealous or insecure.

Are they extremely jealous and insecure when you talk to anyone, so much so that they monitor and control what you do? Do they take ownership over you, taking away your rights to have friends, go out, work or study? Do they threaten you or make you suffer, in some way, if you assert your rights?

They control what you do in order to avoid how they feel. Therefore, it feels easier to give in to what they want, so that you avoid the emotional abuse.

Do they manipulate situations so that you can’t go out with your friends from time to time? Do they guilt you so you will be there exclusively for them?

When you go out with your friends, does your abuser punish you, so you stop making plans?

3. You are blamed

The person who is emotionally abusive can make you responsible for all their feelings, so they do not have to feel them.

You're told that you are useless or can't do anything right when you don't do things their way.

When you address their actual behavior, you are at fault or blamed as the cause of the problem, so they get out of trouble for how they feel.

4. You are accused of things you haven't done

A sign of an emotional abuser is being paranoid and suspicious for no reason.

Do they frequently accuse you of things you have not done and then make you pay for those things? Are you being accused of cheating or not caring? Are you being punished for their past hurts and forced to make up for those?

Do they constantly misconstrue your behavior so you end up the bad person and have to make it up to them?

5. You fear expressing yourself

Perhaps, you've noticed that you’re losing yourself by appeasing them.

You’ve become increasingly miserable and unhappy by walking on eggshells around their moods.

6. You've lost sight of yourself

Do you feel guilty or bad doing things for yourself? Have you slowly stopped doing things for yourself? Does it feel as though your needs do not matter?

Do you constantly think about how they will react and then adapt yourself to accommodate them?

Have you got into the habit of saying the things that they want to hear to avoid conflict, rather than being your real self?

No matter how much you do to please an emotional abuser, the more you placate them or give in, the more you become trapped in the cycle of emotional abuse.

7. You're losing your own mind

Do they question your perception of reality so that you doubt yourself and stop trusting your own thoughts?

Do they turn the problems around so that you end up looking like the crazy or overly emotional one when they've mistreated you?

Are you starting to believe them by taking on their thoughts or projections? Maybe you're blaming yourself as the problem, instead of separating yourself from what they say.

8. You give up your own self, thoughts, and opinions because it's easier

They become malicious or vengeful to get their way.

Your partner acts maliciously to punish you or get revenge on you when you do not accommodate their needs. Perhaps they threatened to leave you or take the kids away.

Have they ever gotten so angry that they deliberately set out to hurt you, causing you to suffer in some way?

RELATED: 6 Heartbreaking Ways Emotional Abuse Changes You

9. You feel like you have no say

Do they discount your views or feelings, as if those are not important?

Do they pressure you to take on their views or do you feel beaten down until you submit to their tantrums?

Does it feel like the only option is to say nothing or to do what they want to avoid getting into trouble for something you haven’t done wrong?

When you offer them helpful advice, do they accuse you of attacking them or reprimanding them? Do they turn things against you, as if you are the villain and they're the victim? Do they attack back?

10. The abuser can't let go of you

Do they know exactly how to hook you back into the relationship, preventing you from moving on? Do they financially control you or restrict your access to money so you can not leave?

Do they socially isolate you so you will not leave? Do they turn you against your friends and family, so that they can't be there to support you?

Do they put you down so you feel worthless and unlovable, in order to keep you from leaving? Do they find a way for you to feel sorry for them so that you stay and minimize the abuse you’ve endured?

Are these signs recognizable to your toxic relationship?

These signs of emotionally abusive behavior are your abuser's attempts to cause you to suffer unless you meet their needs. The abuser ends up escaping these feelings within themselves.

Once they see that their abusive tactics get their needs met, it enables the abuse to continue. The more they get away with it, the more reward they get for the abusive behavior.

Perhaps, this emotionally abusive person has a way to draw you back into focusing on them so that it is easy to appease them and lose sight of how you’re being treated.

Perhaps, they can convince you that you’re the problem.

Perhaps, you do not see their actions as abuse, because they say that you are to blame for how they feel.

The truth is that the person who emotionally abuses you seeks to control as a way to fill the empty void and escape feeling unworthy deep down inside.

In actual fact, the way the abuser tries to get their needs met is an attempt to make others responsible for how they feel.

An abuser can shut out past feelings of childhood abuse and protect themselves so that no one can hurt them again by getting revenge or punishing others so that they do not feel like a victim again.

When a person becomes triggered to feeling rejected, unwanted, or unworthy, it is easy to misconstrue that loved ones cause them to feel this way.

So, the emotional abuser can take revenge on loved ones, as if they had caused their pain. The partner gets blamed for causing them to feel this way and all the past hurt gets displaced onto them.

In this way, the person ends up repeating the abusive behavior that they endured.

Perhaps your abusive partner was emotionally manipulated to meet the needs of a caregiver or otherwise they were rejected, punished, or reprimanded.

So, when they feel abandoned, they emotionally manipulate you, as a way to avoid the pain of feeling this way. By repeating the abusive behavior done to them, they can act out revenge or punish you for past hurts.

Internationally recognized psychiatrist James Masterson describes the Talionic Impulse used by individuals, including those with personality disorders, as a way of repeating the abusive behavior that was originally done to them by reacting towards the partner as if they had abused them.

In this way, they take out revenge and punish those they perceive to have hurt them. The partner who triggers the pain is seen as being responsible for it. This causes the abuser to take revenge and punish them.

If you detect these warning signs of emotional abuse, then perhaps you’re in a relationship with a person who hurts you as a way to feel better about themselves.

Inflicting abuse on you is an attempt to escape these abandonment feelings and feelings of self-loathing. It also controls you as a way to make them feel better.

However, the abusive person must address their feelings and rebuild their sense of self, rather than making others responsible for their feelings.

What do you do if you spot these signs of emotional abuse in your relationship?

When you notice the red flags of abusive relationships, don't focus on changing your partner. Instead, work on your own feelings and change the way you feel about yourself.

If you can have a more loving relationship with yourself, you allow people to treat you with love and kindness. You teach people how to treat you and can teach people to respect you if you consider yourself as good enough.

If you detect these signs of emotional abuse in your relationship, you can get the help you need to find love within yourself, rather than looking for love in others.

If you work on the part of you that beats yourself up or doesn't feel good enough, you can change the way you feel about yourself and allow yourself to be treated according to your real worth.

So, you will not accept behavior that is not good enough. You can attract relationships that are good for you and build healthier boundaries to protect yourself from abuse.

RELATED: 13 Signs Of Emotional Abuse Commonly Misinterpreted As 'Acts Of Love'

Nancy Carbone is a relationship therapist with a M.Soc. Sc (Couns). If you recognize signs of abuse in your relationships you can visit her website to make an appointment. You can sign up on her newsletter for free advice and tips.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.