When people think of domestic abuse they tend to focus on the physical aspect of it.
A lot of people refuse to believe they are victims if the abuse is not physical. Many also believe abuse stems solely from men. Those things could not be farther from the truth. There are plenty of signs your partner is mentally, emotionally, or psychologically abusive that have nothing to do with gender or getting physical.
It’s true that physical violence can be deadly, but that doesn’t make mental or emotional abuse any better. This type of abuse can negatively impact entire personalities, self-esteem, friendships, and overall mental states. It can cause depression, anxiety, and may lead to self-harm. Mental abuse is equally as dangerous since the victim hardly ever knows if the abuser’s actions will turn violent.
The absence of hitting doesn’t mean a victim isn’t a prisoner of abuser, sadness, fear, isolation, and feeling hopeless.
Mental and emotional abuse can be happening to you without you even knowing it. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, abuse awareness should not. To ensure fewer people remain in these types of harmful relationships, it’s important we talk about abuse more.
Don’t overlook, ignore, or even deny this problem. Look for these signs to see if your partner is abusive toward you.
1. They get upset if you want to spend time with your friends or family.
If your partner wants you all to themselves it might be a sign they are controlling. Spending time with one person all the time is not healthy for either party. Love aside, everyone needs his or her space. If you want to spend time with your best friend or your cousin, that should not spark an argument.
2. They make negative comments about everything.
A person that views everything in a negative way will eventually even see you that way. Listening to someone that is always being a pessimist about everything can be a big challenge. Not only is it draining, but that kind of negativity can also turn you into that type of person.
3. They are unpredictable.
Abusive partners will hardly ever be predictable with their moods. Are they going to come home angry or happy? You’ll rarely be able to tell. Will the fact that someone followed you on Instagram cause a fight? Or, will something so small like too much traffic cause tension between you two? If you’re constantly worried about them getting upset with you, this is a red flag.
4. They don’t show interest in your interests.
It is difficult to accept that the person you love might not care about you the same way. If your partner doesn’t take interest in things that are important to you that is a problem. Anyone that really cares for you will want to be involved in your world. When someone begins to put down your interests, hobbies, or profession, it’s a sign they might be abusive.
5. They are angry drinkers.
Drinking excessively can change a person’s behavior. There has always been a connection between alcohol abuse and domestic violence. If you think your boyfriend may have a drinking problem talk to him about it. If he doesn’t want to change this habit, chances are he won’t change. When your partner begins to lash out at you while drunk, it’s time you reevaluate the relationship. Being intoxicated is no excuse for violent behavior.
6. They talk you into doing things you’ve clearly and firmly said “no” to.
Talking someone into doing something they don’t want to do is not okay. Remember you can always say NO! If you’ve said no and your partner continues to insist you do something out of your comfort zone, that’s not okay. Let this be a warning that you need out.
7. They constantly talk down to you or belittle you.
This is a red flag you should not ignore. Making someone feel small is a form of manipulation. Remember that if a person loves you, they will try to empower you and not put you down. Verbal abuse often leads to physical abuse. You have the power to stop it before it starts.
8. They are unreasonably jealous all the time.
This is a sign that your partner is incredibly insecure. Trust and communication are the most important aspects of a relationship. The type of jealousy I’m talking about goes beyond the “what did you do last night” question. I’m talking about getting accused of cheating simply because you waved at the security guard. Jealousy can also be disguised as manipulation through what you wear.
Examples would be, “I don’t want you to wear that, because people might want you” or “If you wear that you’ll just look trashy.”
9. They make everything seem like it is your fault.
This is a form of psychological abuse. If he uses guilt trips to turn the tables on you, GET OUT! Ever heard of gaslighting? This manipulation technique is used to make victims doubt themselves. Abusers will say or do things, then try to convince you they didn’t until they make sure you’re terrible at remembering things. Sometimes, this can be so extreme it can make you question your sanity. So, don’t believe everything is your fault!
10. They use guilt to blind you.
Sometimes abusers will act like they truly feel guilty for all the things they’ve done wrong to you. If this is a pattern, all they’re doing is manipulating you into feeling bad for them. This causes victims to forgive their abusers and on occasion support them to be better. It’s a vicious cycle.
11. They are quick to give you ultimatums.
Ultimatums are simply threats that an abuser will use to force their victims into doing things. This is just another form of control and manipulation.
12. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
Do you have to clean before your partner gets home? Do you need to have dinner ready by a certain time? Are you careful with your words and actions to make sure your partner doesn’t get angry? No one should live in fear that their everyday actions might cause an argument with their partner.
13. They call you terrible things.
This is just plain verbal abuse. No one should ever call you bad names. You already have a name and if he doesn’t want to call you by that name he has a problem. This is a form of bullying. Put a stop to this immediately, because there are lines that should never be crossed.
14. There’s a constant cycle of fighting and making up.
Usually, an abuser will fight with their partner, then make these grand apologies, and promise it won’t ever happen again…until it does. The reality is it will continue to happen. This cycle won’t stop until you get out, and if you don’t it usually only gets worse over time.
15. You need to ask for permission.
If you have to ask your partner for permission to go out, use your phone, wear certain clothes, or hang out with your friends, they are being controlling. You are an adult who can make your own decisions.
If you think that your relationship falls under any of these categories, you could be in a mentally abusive relationship. Physical or not, abuse is abuse and it is never okay. If you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Originally published on The Odyssey Online.