Did your partner emotionally abuse you? Emotional abuse can be subtle. You may have suffered emotional abuse in your relationship and not realized it was going on until after your breakup or divorce.  This type of abuse erodes your feelings of self-worth and chips away at the happiness you deserve. How can you know if you have been emotional abused?


Threatening Behavior


An abusive person shows a tendency for violence in many ways. Punching walls, breaking down doors or showing other aggressive behaviors. Some forms of violence, however, are less visible. Emotional violence can be just as dangerous and destructive.


Emotional abuse often manifests itself in these ways:


  1. Isolation. Sometimes, a person in a relationship can become possessive. A possessive person tells you he cares for your safety, and that his possessive behavior proves that he loves you. Taken to the extreme, possessiveness becomes isolation. The goal of isolation is to control you by breaking down your emotional will to resist.
  2.  Your partner’s desire to isolate you could be caused by their insecurity. He may project that insecurity onto you by trying to control everything you do, who you meet, and where you go. He may try to make you feel guilty for enjoying yourself or making friends. Your partner may have tried to keep you from your friends and family. By cutting off your social supports, you became isolated with no one to reach out to for help.
  3. Verbal abuse. Regular verbal attacks on your character and value destroy your self-esteem. You will begin to feel worthless. There becomes nothing you can do to please this person. Continuous verbal assaults may cause you to put aside your most important ideas and beliefs.
  4. Verbal abuse is characterized by critical or humiliating remarks about you as a person. If your partner continuously puts you down and makes you feel unworthy of self-respect, this is a warning sign that something is wrong. Verbal abuse may escalate into sexual or physical violence if you avoid taking action to protect yourself.
  5. Financial abuse. Unless you’re financially independent, you can leave your finances vulnerable to a partner with abusive tendencies. He may deny you access to funds, refuse to allow you to work outside the home or spend money irresponsibly and blame the financial struggles on you.


Next Steps


If you were the victim of continuous emotional abuse within your relationship, the most important steps are to recognize if you were abused and know that it was wrong. Emotional abuse can be hard to identify, especially if you were emotionally bullied over a period of time.


You are worthy of respect, and you can live a life that is free from the emotional abuse. Think honestly about yourself and ask yourself these questions:


* Is my self-esteem at a historic low?

* Do I believe my opinion is worthless?

* Am I highly self-critical of everything I do?


If you were in an emotionally abusive relationship, take steps to boost your self-esteem. Seek friends who build you up and affirm that you’re valuable, and spend time with those friends. Consider coaching so you can boost your self-esteem back to normal levels.


Build Yourself Up


If you have left an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself from future abuse. If you do not take the time to heal from the emotional abuse and build your self-esteem, you may find yourself in another emotionally abusive relationship.

If you hear yourself thinking or saying negative things about yourself, stop. Take that negative phrase and turn it into a positive affirmation. If you say to yourself, “I’m stupid, I can’t do anything right.” Turn that phrase around. Write on a post-it, “I am clever. I can do things correctly.” Read that new phrase every day. Every time you start to think of the old phrase, say “Stop/” Then say your new phrase. You have to retrain your brain to build your self-esteem.

Most of all, remember that you are valuable. Anyone who makes you feel otherwise can only do so if you let them. Enlist the help of emotionally strong, positive friends. Take action. Protect yourself. Replace emotional abuse with strength and confidence in your self-worth. You will emerge stronger and happier when you begin to take these steps today.