How To Tell If You Are In Emotionally Abusive Relationship: 5 Subtle Things

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In this new article you’ll learn how to tell if you are in emotionally abusive relationship.

It’s worth emphasizing that identifying whether you’re in an abusive relationship or not isn’t always a simple process. This is especially true if you’re right in the middle of an unhappy relationship in which the blurred lines between abuse and other sources of your unhappiness exist at every turn.

Dealing with the reality of an unhappy relationship is often a great source of some serious confusion, even if at times you may feel as if you’re to blame.

How to recognize abusive relationship:

When you try to blame yourself for your partner’s abusive actions you obviously already are in an abusive relationship and probably know it, but there are many more signs you can look out for to help you determine exactly what an abusive relationship encompasses.

You should never blame yourself for someone else’s abusive behavior. No matter what you may or may not have done, and no matter how sour the relationship has turned out, there is never any justification for one person to abuse another, in any way.

What exactly is abuse and more specifically, what exactly is an abusive relationship?

Since people are different in numerous ways, one person’s perception of abuse may differ slightly to another person’s, so the finer details of defining abuse will ultimately come down to you as an individual.

On a broader scale though, abuse is when you are deliberately made to experience ill-treatment—when your partner deliberately treats you badly in one or more of a number of different ways, including physical, sexual or even emotional ill-treatment.

Some examples of abuse in its various guises can include experiences of your partner’s deliberate efforts to try and control your behavior, threatening you with violence, hurling insults at you, humiliating you in public, making you feel scared, getting overly jealous, and even belittling you in any way.

Abuse doesn’t always only encompass ill-treatment aimed directly at you and can also take the form of your partner threatening your loved-ones with violence, or threatening your possessions with malicious intent to cause physical damage.

Your partner may even be abusing you financially, through something like deliberately withholding your pre-agreed upon access to funds that you need for your basic livelihood. If there is a child involved, abuse could even go as far as taking the form of your partner trying to turn the child against you.

In short, any experience of deliberate ill-treatment from your partner constitutes abuse and you’ll generally know that you’re being abused if you are unduly made to feel extreme physical or emotional discomfort.

It’s very important to be able to make a distinction between something like a lover’s quarrel and an abusive relationship. As with any healthy relationship, you will have fights (none of which should ever get physical) and you will argue.

At times you may even have heated and passionate arguments, but knowing where the line between arguing/fighting and abuse is comes down to your ability to identify the cardinal signs of an abusive relationship. These cardinal signs of an abusive relationship can be fundamentally grouped into five categories, including:

  • Physical Violence & Sexual Assault
  • Threats
  • Belittlement
  • Possessiveness
  • Excessive and Unreasonable Jealousy

1. Physical Violence & Sexual Assault

Perhaps the most easily identifiable form of abuse is physical abuse, but by no means does this mean that this is the only form of abuse in existence or, in fact, the worst form of abuse. Any form of abuse can make life a living hell for you as the victim, but physical abuse leaves you in physical pain and discomfort.

Extreme cases of physical abuse in a relationship take the form of your partner beating you or hurting you, but if your partner shoves you, grabs you, pushes you around or even harms your family members and pets, that also constitutes physical abuse.

Similarly, sexual assault as a form of physical abuse doesn’t necessarily only constitute extreme cases such as intra-relationship rape, but if your partner is forcing you to have sex or engage in sexual acts you don’t want to engage in, that’s also a form of sexual abuse.

If you find yourself experiencing physical pain or extreme discomfort as a result of the deliberate actions of your partner, you can consider yourself to be in a physically abusive relationship.

SEE ALSO: How To Cultivate Good Relationship: Best Step-by-Step Strategies

2. Threats

Although physical abuse in a relationship most visibly displays signs of the abuse, emotional abuse in its various forms can be just as disheartening if not more destructive to your well-being.

If you’re constantly made to live out your life in fear of what your partner threatens to do, consider yourself the victim of a form of emotional abuse. If your partner threatens you with violence, threatens your loved ones with violence, shouts at you and threatens to deliberately break some of your possessions of value, this is a form of emotional abuse.

If somebody claims to love somebody else, or at least claims to care about somebody else, the last thing he or she would want to do is deliberately instill any form of fear in the other person.

If your partner truly loved you or cared about you, you would actually be made to feel safe in whatever way possible. It’s important for you to understand this because the worst of threats could very easily escalate into a threatened action actually being carried-out, often with dire consequences.

It’s also not at all good to have to constantly live in fear (1) of some harm befalling you should your partner go all the way next time and actually carry out the threats. You don’t want to find yourself physically harmed to such an extent that the damage is permanent, or even fatal, to you, your loved-ones, or even your possessions or livelihood.

Sadly, having to endure threats makes for one of the most tolerated forms of emotional abuse people put up with and constantly let slide. They are misguided by the fallacy that since their partners haven’t as yet carried out the abusive actions they threaten them with, these threats don’t in themselves constitute abuse.

Do not take your partner’s threats lightly. Being threatened is very much a form of abuse in a relationship and it accounts for enough of a reason to want to get out of that abusive relationship.

Threats also form part of your partner’s efforts to control you and, while every relationship inevitably comes with a measure of sacrifices and compromises, those sacrifices and compromises should be made out of your own free will.

The moment you need to be threatened with violence or any other form of abusive action to behave a certain way, it just establishes another reason why you need to move on from such a relationship that is clearly not right for you.

3. Belittlement

Belittlement is another form of emotional (and verbal) abuse and it entails your partner’s deliberate attempts to make you feel bad about yourself. This could include direct insults hurled at you or it can take the form of your partner deliberately putting you down privately or publicly.

Remember that it is entirely up to you, and it is your tolerance for your partner’s belittlement which ultimately determines whether you construe it as abuse or not.

Room for constructive criticism and honesty should always be made in every relationship, but there is a stark contrast between your partner playfully teasing you a bit and maliciously insulting your intelligence, capabilities, looks or mental well-being.

If you find that your opinion of yourself is eroded by your partner’s actions, allow yourself to admit to the fact that you are the victim of emotional and verbal abuse in the form of belittlement. This belittlement could even take the form of your partner making you feel as if you don’t measure up to some other people you’re constantly being compared with, often very unfavorably and unfairly.

It is while enduring belittlement from their partner, when a lot of victims of abusive relationships find ways to blame themselves for the abuse, with that self-blame fire fueled by the partner also putting the blame on them.

The abuser often blames you for all the problems you’re both facing in the relationship and accepts none of the responsibility. Remember that you are not to blame for your partner’s abusive behavior and abuse can never be justified in any way.

Make sure you understand that if your partner claims to be able to do much better than you, then he or she should go ahead and leave the relationship to pursue the greener pastures you seemingly don’t measure up to. You have the exact same right to your freedom and you should never let yourself believe that belittlement is only a benign form of abuse in a relationship.

SEE ALSO: How To Make a Girl Attracted To You (And What To Do Next): 6 Step Guide

4. Possessiveness

While any caring or loving partner would naturally want to feel as if their feelings of love are reciprocated, you do not want to feel as if somebody else owns you.

Possessiveness is another common sign of being in an abusive relationship, with the abuse carried out physically through your partner actively trying to control who you interact with and where you go. In particular, they get angry when you don’t comply with their controlling demands.

A good relationship should never feel like a prison sentence in any way and you can very easily identify possessiveness as a form of abuse in a relationship through your partner’s efforts to excessively check on you to see exactly where you are, who you’re with and what you’re up to.

In this instance it can be very tricky to distinguish between genuine concern and possessiveness. When you’re unsure of whether your partner’s efforts are out of genuine concern or if they are a sign of possessiveness (2), simply evaluate how much freedom you feel you have in the situation.

Are your movements restricted in any way, even if by fear of getting your partner angry? Do you constantly feel edgy or jumpy, knowing that the phone is going to ring at any moment, with some direct questions as to your whereabouts and the associated reasons?

If the answer is “yes”, then you need to take a closer look at the possibility of being a victim of an abusive relationship, with possessiveness being the indicative factor.

5. Excessive and Unreasonable Jealousy

Excessive and unreasonable jealousy is very closely related to possessiveness as a sign of being in an abusive relationship. In fact, most excessive and unreasonable jealousy as part of being in an abusive relationship stems from possessiveness, through which your partner harbors feelings of entitlement over you.

If your partner tries to isolate you from your friends and family and wants you all to him/herself, all the time, the relationship very quickly goes from being “in love” to “possessive and jealous.”

The abuse-factor comes into play when you start to feel as if you are restricted from or forbidden to see your friends and family, even if only to avoid the conflict of a confrontation. You should naturally avoid actions which induce jealousy in your partner, but when you’re being accused of things like infidelity or flirting without good reason, it’s nothing less than jealousy which forms part of being in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Listen to your gut

The common signs of an abusive relationship detailed above serve as a means through which you can confirm whether you’re in an abusive relationship or not, and subsequently whether you need to take steps towards exiting the relationship.

Reaching a conclusive perspective can be very difficult, especially amidst the many factors which contribute to your unhappiness in a particular relationship. If you truly have trouble making your mind up however, simply try to identify any genuine experience you’ve had to endure, as detailed above, which suggests that you’re in an abusive relationship.

Don’t try to make excuses for your partner, however wonderful the relationship may have been in the past. If you’re wondering whether or not you are in an abusive relationship, at the very least, your gut is letting you know that you are and you need to do something about it.