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According to Psychology Today, emotional abuse is defined as attempting to control someone using emotions rather than physical harm. The person that is the one emotionally abusing is not usually aware they are doing so. Emotional abuse often comes from being insecure in a relationship. Emotional abuse can be putting unnecessary blame on a partner, accusations that a partner is doing something wrong, hurtful critiques, shaming, withholding information, gaslighting, name calling, harsh language directed at a partner, mocking, humiliation, ignoring, consistent lying, being derogatory, withholding something (affection, time together, etc) as a punishment for something, refusing to communicate, and isolating a partner from friends or family are all examples of emotional abuse. There are many ways that one can emotionally abuse, but these are some of the biggest signs.
Someone who is emotionally abusive is often unwilling to compromise and wants things done their way. The typical abuser is self-centered, impatient, secretive, lack empathy and unforgiving. Being abused for an extended period of time can cause depression, anxiety, self doubt, belief that you are always doing something wrong or everything bad is your fault, mistrust in your own memories and feeling unimportant or like you don't matter. The hardest part of emotional abuse is the abuser often makes you feel like you need them and you will be nothing without them. Abusers often will go through phases, being very emotionally abuse for a while, then being nice and drawing you back into the relationship. You can often be convinced that it is not really that bad and they can make you feel like every bad thing is your fault, making you apologize and work to fix the relationship. By making you feel like you will fail without them, abusers make it very hard to leave.
Even if you are unhappy and gain the confidence to confront them about the abuse, they will deny it and say it never happened. Making you believe your memory is incorrect is a very common thing for emotional abusers to do, and if they continue this, you will start to believe you are incorrect. Often when you try to end an emotionally abusive relationship, you will never get a sense of closure. The abuser will make you feel as though it is your fault, never accepting the things that have happened. The only way to begin to heal after an emotionally abusive relationship is to accept that you were abused and to most importantly, forgive yourself. You may feel like it is your fault or that there is truly something wrong with you, but your vision of the situation has been twisted by your abuser. The best way to begin this is to talk to others about the situation. Most likely you hid what was really happening in the relationship and your friends or family had no idea. Reach out and tell someone your story and you will be reassured that it was not a healthy relationship and that you are going to be okay.
Taking the steps to escape an emotionally abusive relationship may feel overwhelming, but it can be done. First off, talk to someone else who can back you up. Talking through a situation like this where you may have begun to not believe yourself is key. You need to accept that you have been hurt and that you can heal. It will still be hard and the abuser will likely pull back to try and get you to stay, and you likely will feel all the blame on you, with no closure, but once you are out, it only gets better. Surround yourself with supportive people that can help you heal and begin to process everything. It may seem impossible, but you can do it. You will be so much better off out of a toxic relationship. Take your time to heal, but do not look to your abuser for help. You can do this.
Articles on how to deal with an emotionally abusive relationship: