If you are struggling with your voice being heard, your opinions being valued, or your boundaries and accomplishments being recognized, then you may be in a psychologically abusive relationship. In this blog, I provide you the top 5 most common signs of psychological abuse in relationships to help you to recognize if you are in an abusive relationship.
A psychologically abusive partner may insult you when you are alone, and some may insult you in front of others. Frequently, an abusive partner engages in both. Name calling is a serious form of psychological abuse and usually comes with demeaning or degrading names. Some of these insults may directly target your character and dealing with them may require an ongoing and consistent internal effort. You may also feel like you need to prove to your partner that you are not the names that your partner is calling you.
If your partner is making frequent critical or demeaning comments about your body, your ability to perform your job or your ability to perform roles at home then you may be in a psychologically abusive relationship. Being constantly criticized is emotionally challenging and has long-term effects to overall relationship quality. Being attacked by your partner makes you feel defensive and you may want to attack back, or it can make you feel overwhelmed and you may withdraw from the relationship. None of these patterns are constructive.
Criticizing your body: This form of abuse manifests itself as name calling such as fat, bald, ugly, or skinny, etc. It may cause you to have ongoing awareness of how you look and feel shame or guilt. Being criticized for your body is an extremely disappointing experience.
Criticizing your ability to perform roles at home: When this is the case, your partner criticizes your cooking, the way you are taking care of children or pets, cleaning, or fixing things, etc. If your partner wants you to take more active role in cleaning, this is not considered an abusive comment. Therefore, not every criticism is a form of psychological abuse, however criticism that is targeting your character or personality, or criticism that is targeting your social roles such as being a wife, mother, husband, father and so on, are considered form of abuse. For example, if your partner is telling you, “What kind of wife are you that you haven’t cooked one nice meal this week?” This is considered an abusive comment.
Criticizing your ability to perform your job: Our career gives us another social role. Our job title signifies our skills and abilities. If your partner is consistently criticizing your competency at your job, this is considered a significant form of psychological abuse. If your partner intentionally is not supportive towards your career and professional growth, then this may be considered psychological abuse.
Criticizing your mental well-being: Having a partner who is making critical statements about your mental health should remind you of the term gaslighting. Gaslighting is one of the most significant signs of emotional and psychological abuse. Often, the partner with narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic personality disorder engages in gaslighting. This partner may intentionally give you wrong information, and later makes you believe that “it’s all in your mind”, or “you are all making this up”. Frequently, a partner who is gaslighting is making comments like “You are crazy”, “You need a therapist” or “You are being paranoid”.
An abusive partner my accuse you without cause. Usually these accusations are about sexual promiscuity and infidelity. Your partner may accuse you of cheating, flirting, lying, or having sex with others. This partner may frequently feel jealous of your time spent with other individuals, especially with the opposite sex.
Your partner may prevent or try to prevent you from having contact with your family and friends. Deleting the contact information of your friends or family members from your address book, or forcing you to delete, block or unfollow your friends or family members to prevent your communication with them on your social media accounts are signs of abusive relationship.
The abusive partner may also prevent you from leaving home, which is considered a common form of psychological abuse. An abusive partner may prevent you from using the car by taking the car keys or hiding them. It is also common to not tell where the car is parked.
Your partner may also prevent you from engaging in self-care or utilizing your free time as you plan. This partner may demand you to allocate your time based on their needs, around their daily schedule.
In many occasions, the abusive partner may discourage you from obtaining further training or education that can possibly enhance your self-esteem and opportunities for advancement. This is preventing you from your professional development and is an aggressive form of psychological abuse.
Silent treatment is another form of prevention in which your partner prevents you from engaging in a conversation with them. The abusive partner who engages in a silent treatment may refuse to talk to you for hours or days. Silent treatment does not mean taking a break to calm down. In a healthy break or cooling off period, partners decide how much time they individually need to calm down and they give each other this space out of respect. While a healthy cooling off period has a certain start and end time, silent treatment is based on the unknown. Not knowing when your partner will start talking to you may be highly stress provoking.
If threats or black mailing are common in your relationship, you may be in a psychologically abusive relationship. An abusive partner may threaten to do physical harm to you, threaten to leave you, or threaten to flirt or have sex with someone else. These threats eventually cause you to feel an undeniable pressure of being your best self for your partner, not necessarily for yourself. Often, the abusive partner’s threats are based on your fear of losing your partner. In some occasions, the abusive partner may also threaten to not to engage physical intimacy or not to have sex with you.
If you think you are the abused or fearful partner, it is time to seek help. I am here to support you every step of the way. Together we can work on terminating threats and comments that are especially damaging to your self-esteem.