I am about to start a 6 week series on the subject of abuse. I will cover emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as workplace bullying and a final entry on breaking the cycle of abuse, the things you can do to change the way things are currently in a relationship you are in that you believe may be abusive. Today I will touch on emotional abuse.

But first, let us define emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include anything that destroys your sense of self worth, causes anxiety, depression, fear of your partner (or parent, co-worker, etc that is the abuser), walking on eggshells, feeling stuck in the relationship, feeling like there is no way out, alone, isolated. It can include verbal abuse, such as name calling, and yelling, blaming and inflicting shame on the one being abused. It can include threats of violence if they don’t get their way, it can include belittling or attempts to control you. Emotional abuse tends to be looked at as the least important among the other forms of abuse, as there are no visible scars. But the emotional wounding it causes to one’s sense of self esteem and value runs deep. It can cause self-doubt, self hatred, feelings of being useless or worthless. None of which are true, because all of us are created with divine worth. Our sense of worth is NOT from any external source, such as the person you are in an abusive relationship with. If you used to feel better about yourself, and now you feel like you are weak and helpless and as if the abuser is the one belittling your worth, than this may be a sign that you are in an abusive relationship. However, many people caught in abusive relationships are actually repeating patterns from some sort of early childhood abuse, and may not even recognize you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, as your recollections of what “normal” is, looks like abuse. Here are some signs to look for to help you identify whether you are in an emotionally abusi e relationship.

Are you being emotionally abused?

1. Are you treated like a child? Do you feel you need to get permission before making even the smallest choices or decisions?

2. Are you being blamed for his/her problems? Do they make you feel responsible for their behavior, telling you it is your fault that they got mad and started screaming? Are you blamed for his or her drinking problems or inability to fulfill a dream in life? This is a prime example of a boundary issue -not taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and blaming or expecting others to be responsible for their bad behavior, projecting it onto you.

3. Are you treated as if you are “less than” your partner? Do they remind you and rub in all your mistakes? Do they look down on you if you make less money than they do or if you have a “lesser” degree in your education? Do they tell you how unattractive you are and that no one else would want you?

4. Do they make fun of you and put you down in front of others?

5. Do they regularly dismiss your feelings, preferences and choices, causing you to feel like you have no choice? Do they disregard your thoughts, opinions and suggestions?

6. Are they impossible to please? Do they complain about the way you run your life? Or something about your personality that causes low self-esteem in you?

7. Does your partner always have to be right?

8. Are you looked down on or belittled for your accomplishments, or your future plans? Do you feel like they are treating you like those things are unimportant? Even criticizing and discouraging you from doing anything different with your life? Do they tell you that you will fail at the goals you are trying to reach in an effort to control you and cause you to not believe that you can do it, to the extent that you shrink back and don’t even try?

9. Have you stopped seeing friends or family since being in this relationship? Do you feel emotionally isolated or cut off from outside supportive relationships? Are they jealous or get angry when you spend time with your friends? Did you stop seeing family or friends because you feel ashamed being in this relationship, even though you’ve complained many times about the way you are treated?

10. Are you accused of flirting with others or having an affair that you aren’t having by your abusive
partner?

11. Do they insist on getting their own way? Threatening to end the relationship if they don’t?

12. Do they punish you by withholding sex, or giving you the silent treatment or not giving you the affection you need if things don’t go their way?

13. Are you teased or made fun of, or do they use sarcasm to put you down?

14. Do they apologize when they are wrong? Or do they make excuses for their behavior?

15. Do they tell you that you are responsible for all the problems in the relationship?

If you answered yes to even half these questions, you may currently be involved in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

The first step on the road to recovery is to admit that you are being emotionally abused and acknowledge the damage it has caused to your sense of self worth and self esteem.

A couple of questions for you to consider: Ask yourself why you chose an abusive partner? Can you ind the root cause? Can you trace it back to your childhood or see repeat abusive patterns in your life? Can you identify the voids in your life, the emptiness you feel and how this relationship fills them… Or doesn’t.

Why do you put up with the abuse? What are you afraid of?

Stay tuned for the full series, and see which of the categories you most identify with, as there may be more than one. Stay tuned for my last entry on tools to break the abusive cycle.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about how to overcome abuse in your life, feel free to browse through the topics in my one-on-one Personal Development Program.

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach

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