Abuse comes in different forms. Just because you don’t have scars or bruises to show doesn’t mean you aren’t being abused. The fact that the abuse is in the form of words does not make it any less serious. Bruises will eventually heal, but words can stick with you for life. Emotional abuse is tricky because sometimes the victim doesn’t even know they are a victim, especially if it never gets physical. Here are some signs that you are being emotionally abused. This applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones.
1. You’re Being Gaslighted
Gaslighting is a common manipulation technique that abusers use to control their victim by convincing an individual that their understanding of reality is false. Abusers will try to convince you that you are the crazy one.
“You’re being too sensitive.”
“That’s not what really happened.”
“It was all a misunderstanding.”
“I didn’t mean it that way. You’re interpreting me wrong.”
When you are being gaslighted, you will feel confused and never quite “good enough.” You’ll feel like you’re constantly overreacting and that everything really is your fault.
2. You Constantly Receive Non-apologies
Saying sorry does not mean you’re actually sorry. When you are in an abusive relationship “apologize” often shift the blame to the victim. “I’m sorry that I yelled at you, but it was your fault. You made me angry.” Sometimes, abusers don’t even bother to acknowledge the real problem and attempt to sweep it under the rug with pseudo-apologies such as, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or, “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
3. You’re Constantly On Your Toes
One minute they’re sweet, and all of a sudden it’s like they’re a completely different person. A healthy relationship has boundaries that are clear to both parties. You should know what is and isn’t okay. You should never have to guess whether or not what you’re doing is okay.
4. They Make Decisions For You
“You can’t hang out with these people.”
“You should stay at your job instead of finding a new one.”
“Are you really wanting to go out on a Friday night? You should stay home.”
Emotional abusers aren’t shy about voicing their opinions about your life decisions, especially if they disagree. They will also attempt to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. Some abusers are not as forceful as others and will stick to criticizing your choices rather than making sure you follow their “recommendation.” Regardless, what you should do is your decision alone.
5. They Use Love As Ammo Against You
“You’d do this for me if you really loved me.”
“I’m your family! Why can’t you do this for me?!”
“Don’t you love us?”
Abusers will often attempt to use love to send you on a guilt trip. They will take your refusal to do something and twist your words to make you seem like you don’t care for your family or the relationship, you’re disloyal, and, “How could you do this?!”
6. Nothing Comes Without A Cost
“Remember the time I did this for you? Why can’t you do the same for me?!”
If you are constantly having to repay favors, the “help” you are offered is being used against you. This is especially true if specific instances are being brought up when you are unable to commit to something right that second. With abusers, doing things for each other is not about being kind to each other and maintaining a relationship. It’s about having something to hold against you so that the abuser can bring it up at their convenience.
7. You Are Not Allowed To Have Your Own Opinions Without Feeling Bad
From political views to dietary choices, what you do is wrong unless it aligns with the abuser’s personal preferences. Anything else makes you target for ridicule until you feel shamed into changing your behavior.
8. You Are An Extension Of Themselves, Not An Individual
Your successes do not belong to you, even if you worked for it on your own. Emotional abusers will see you as an extension of themselves in order to feed their own fragile egos. They live vicariously through their victims and often push the victim to partake in activities that they are emotionally invested in, regardless of if the victim has any interest in the activity at all.