Last week, we left off with signs of mental and emotional abuse. Symptoms like attacking the victim’s self-esteem, control on the person, and displaying accusations without basis. For this blog, more signs will be revealed, signs that you might think is normal, but in reality, it is already abuse.
Over time, the negative, hurtful, or discouraging messages we hear from others get internalized and may cause us to doubt our abilities or value. While some harmful messages are well-intended—for example, a parent focusing on why you got a B instead of an A on a test—others are downright mean, shaming, and belittling. — Megan MacCutcheon, LPC
Emotional Unavailability And Co-Dependence
Abusers will attempt to emotionally isolate you from your typical support groups and put their emotional needs above yours. The result can be a feeling of isolation and extreme co-dependence to the abuser. Usual tactics for this include:
- Dehumanizing. Absence of eye contact or fixating on something else while talking to you.
- Prohibiting socializing and having a set of rules for where and when you are allowed to socialize with friends and family or outright forbidding you from them. This can also be when you want to go out, but they convince you to stay with them or sandbag you from going.
- Squashing affection. This includes withholding touch or will refuse to speak with you. Lovers and spouses can even refuse sexual activity to chastise or demand something out of you. Other behaviors can include stonewalling you or being indifferent to your circumstances.
- Making demands. Throwing away any semblance of negotiation and forcing you to adhere to their decisions.
- Turning people against you. Abusers will go behind your back to sabotage your reputation and credibility to co-workers, family, or friends.
These actions aim to make victims of abuse dependent on their abusers. Some common signs of this are feelings of fear and anxiety with their partners but feeling “stuck” or out of options to do something about it. Victims may also feel very isolated and neglect taking care of themselves. Abusers will also control most if not all their victim’s decision making – victims will always seek their abuser’s approval or critic before doing anything on their own, anything running counter to this is felt as guilt or inadequacy.
Emotional abuse occurs when one person—intentionally or otherwise, consciously or unconsciously—engages in behavior that insults, threatens, rejects, neglects, blames, manipulates, isolates, degrades, punishes, humiliates, or exerts control over another. — Betsy Smith, MEd, LPC-S
Things To Ponder On
Why do women allow themselves to be abused in a relationship? Please, let us not think that abused women are weak. Their abusers have instilled in their minds that they have no power, and as a man, they are the ones in control. This can destroy one’s self-esteem (how a person perceives herself), and she will believe that she is under his power and control.
There is fear. They also believe that being “treated” that way is normal. Also, they worry about something – for example, they have something in their past that the other person know and they fear that they will be “outed.” So, even if the relationship is abusive, they choose to stay. They don’t want to be embarrassed or ashamed, which is why they pretend that everything is okay.
These women do it out of love, even if there is nothing love-worthy in this type of relationship. They are deeply damaged within them, and they don’t know that it’s abuse. Also, some women don’t leave because their culture or religion bind them, or they don’t have money, or that they are disabled. There are so many reasons as to why they stay, but the fact remains. They have to leave that relationship.
Emotional abuse is a painful and serious pattern of abuse in which the primary effort is to control someone by playing with their emotions. We dumb down the implications of emotional abuse by mislabeling minor interactional issues as emotional abuse. — Andrea Mathews LPC, NCC
The best way to know if you or someone is being abused is to follow your instincts as we should have a feeling whether something is inherently good or bad for us. Accept that there is clear abuse going on and disengage from the source of abuse. The keyword is DISENGAGE. LEAVE. GET OUT OF THAT RELATIONSHIP. If there are fears of physical retaliation, reach out to local law enforcement or emergency hotlines.