The word “abuse” often brings to mind physical injuries like bruises or burns. Physical abuse is serious and should be dealt with immediately when discovered. Yet many people remain unaware of another type of abuse. Emotional abuse often occurs because the harmed person thinks “It’s okay as long as they don’t hit me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Learn the signs of an abusive relationship so you can seek help if needed.
Manipulation plays a huge role in abusive relationships. You may notice you’re walking on eggshells—your partner is loving and considerate toward you, but the slightest mistake results in some form of punishment. This could be yelling, the silent treatment, harsh criticism, or anything else. Often, an abusive partner will twist words and events so you end up apologizing for his or her behavior.
An abusive partner will isolate you from friends and family. This goes beyond wanting you to cancel plans occasionally so he or she can spend time with you. This type of isolation is constant and continues no matter what others need from you. Your partner may make you feel that having other relationships isn’t normal.
Emotionally abusive partners will do anything to keep you submissive. Sometimes this involves threats of physical violence to you, family members, friends, or pets. An abusive partner may destroy or threaten to destroy your personal property. He or she might threaten to cut off your access to money so you can’t leave.
Partners criticize each other occasionally—it’s the nature of human relationships. However, constant criticism over every decision you make is a sign of emotional abuse. An abusive partner’s goal is to make you feel small, incompetent, and inferior. If your partner questions or criticizes your decisions or ideas, it’s a red flag.