We’ve all have been or known of someone that has been in a psychologically abusive relationship. A friend who after breaking up with a narcissistic boyfriend doesn’t know who or what to believe. A relative who was stripped of her sense of self-worth and came out of a relationship with her self-esteem in the proverbial toilet.

A psychologically abusive relationship leaves no bruises, no outward scars, and because it often goes unidentified, it leaves the victim confused, and feeling like somehow the problem lies within them.

I remember when I would tell a friend about how I was treated in a relationship, and that friends would say, “Caroline, are you hearing yourself? You are unhappy, miserable even.” but somehow I thought it was me. If I just tried a little harder, if I was always available at beck and call, if I pushed aside my needs and focused just on meeting his needs, then he would be happy, and in turn, I would be too.

How do we know what is acceptable treatment in a relationship? What are the red flags that we should not be overlooking? Where do you take a stand and express your feelings? Sometimes it is only when we voice that we are not happy is when the penny drops and we start to analyze why. If you’ve been unlucky enough to have back to back psychological abusive relationships then it’s hard to understand that love shouldn’t devalue you. It’s not normal to feel unhappy and unfulfilled in a relationship. It’s not normal for a man to cheat on you and make you feel worthless.

It’s important to know what you want. If you’re looking for greater respect, value and appreciation then it’s paramount to identify what you need from your partner to feel those things. If you can identify and communicate with him what you need, you are halfway there.

Don’t question your sanity

Subtly aggressive and controlling relationships leave one feeling confused and leave the victim questioning whether it is then that’s insane. A diagnosed narcissist will often turn around and call their partner a narcissist. A tactic of an emotional abuser is to make their partner seem needy when they ask where they are, they will take of your generosity of time and money and not reciprocate, they will make you feel undesirable and unattractive. They will control you by love bombing you, all while controlling you. They will make you question your sanity, and they will make you a shell of your former self.

Over time the gaslighting, verbal abuse, criticism erode a victim’s sense of self, that they no longer can define what’s real and what’s not. They want to believe that their abusive lover cares for them. They no longer can figure out the truth. They start to believe that they will never be good enough for anyone else, so their fragile self stays with their abuser.

Emotional abuse can even impact the victim’s friendships and relationships within the family. They pull back no longer thinking they are worthy of the friendship, they are unlikeable, and nobody really likes them for who and what they are. They simply and quite sadly no longer feel good enough. It’s evil. No man should ever make a woman feel less than, and unworthy. That in itself is abuse.

What are the signs that you are in a psychologically abusive relationship?
  1. You walk on eggshells around your partner and are vigilant about not disappointing him.
  2. He raises his voice on a regular basis and yells and shouts over you in a quest to intimidate and control you. Verbal abuse, not just name-calling and swearing, but yelling and threatening are common tactics to control.
  3. He controls you by demanding to know where you are at all times. You can go to the grocery store, and he will be calling asking why it’s taking you so long? Slowly he puts the pressure on so you no longer hang out with girlfriends, or spend time without him.
  4. You feel sorry for him. Emotional abusers are master manipulators, and they make you feel sorry for them, for things in their past that make him acts the way he does. You make excuses for him.

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