Most people know the signs of emotional abuse, but when you are in the midst of it, it is one of he hardest forms of abuse to recognise. Detrimental and abusive words chip away at your self esteem, causing invisible wounds that leave you feeling worthless and can lead to severe anxiety and depression and even P.T.S.D.
A common misconception is that this only takes place within romantic relationships when in fact that is not the case. It is just as common with parents, siblings, ‘friends’ (trust me they aren’t really your friends!) and co workers regardless of gender.
When you think of the signs of emotional abuse you think of name calling, shouting, insults, but most of the time its a lot more subtle than that and a lot more manipulative! I want you to think about the people in your life while you read through the next few points on the less obvious signs.
Sarcasm – jokes and comments at your expense that make you feel stupid, brushed of as ‘banter’ when confronted.
“You’re boring” – when you try voicing your opinions on how someone makes you feel you are accused of being boring or that you have no sense of humour.
“Its your fault” – blaming you for their actions and behaviour towards you.
Drama queen – accusing you of being over dramatic.
The silent treatment – ignoring your attempts at conversation whether its in person or via phone or text.
Manipulation – not only manipulation you but manipulating other peoples perception of you, ‘slagging you off’
Finances – manipulating or controlling your access to your own money
Paranoia – wanting details of your every move, where you have been and who you have been with. Checking your phone, recent texts, call lists, internet history and even showing up in places to make sure you are where you said you were.
Most of the time, these are just brushed off and the term ‘abuse’ is thought of a being dramatic. The reality though guys, if there is someone in your life that constantly makes you second guess yourself, makes you feel weak and worthless through many or even just one of the things I have mentioned, then I am sorry to tell you but that is abuse.
Unfortunately, with emotional abuse it is quite common that the abuser doesn’t even realise they are doing it and a lot of it is brushed off as ‘Banter’ (don’t get me started! keep an eye out for my next post to cover that delightful topic!) its possible it stems from some kind of emotional abuse as a child or they could just be an arsehole (I’m no psychologist) but this doesn’t make it acceptable! At the end of the day they need to recognise what they are doing and seek professional help but that is not your responsibility! The only thing you are responsible for is removing your self from a toxic relationship for your own mental health.
So here is the bit where I share my own experiences, interesting to read right? POSSIBLY! difficult to write? DEFINITELY! its been nearly five years since that relationship ended and I don’t know if its difficult to write because I have blocked a lot of it out or I am still annoyed with myself that I let him do it to me in the first place.
Let me take you back to 2013, I was living in my first home that I had bought with the boyfriend in question that shall here by be referred to as ‘The Douche’. So not long after we moved in Douche lost his job, so the mortgage, bills, food etc all fell to me. I was a teaching assistant at the time, Monday to Friday, a riding instructor on a Sunday and I used to draw in the evenings to earn extra money to get us by. For six months I busted my arse to keep us afloat while he sat on his arse all day everyday, PlayStation controller in hand, incapable of putting the hoover round or putting on a load of washing. When I confronted him he said he didn’t have time to do house work because he was ‘applying for jobs’ and somehow managed to make me feel like a complete bitch for asking him for help. He started treating me differently, being distant and when I brought it up he accused me of being the one who was distant and pushing him away and made me feel like it was my fault. I don’t even know how he did it I must have had mug tattooed on my forehead because I was still paying for him to attend his martial arts training twice a week. See what I mean? but it gets worse!
Okay, so he eventually got a job, a job he wanted, the same job as me actually but in a primary school. I continued to work my three jobs and I thought things were going to get better. Oh I was so so wrong *insert hysterical laughter here*.
It wasn’t long before he became even more distant and glued to his phone. I know you know whats coming guys but my brain couldn’t even comprehend it and even now there is a certain text message tone on android that is like nails on a chalk board to me. Every time I tried to talk to him he shut me down, he used to go out with his work friends and just not come home, there was no intimacy, he wouldn’t touch me and sometimes he didn’t even acknowledge I was in the room with him. We went to his best friends wedding and he left me sat at a table alone, didn’t speak to me all night and the only other person I knew there was his mother. Eventually I stopped sleeping. I couldn’t understand what was going on, I was doing everything I could think of to make him happy, I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong. When I tried to remember what normal was and tried to act it he accused me of being fake so i was at a loss. I was exhausted and he was pretending like I didn’t exist. The man (man-child) I thought I knew had disappeared and been replaced with a stranger.
A few weeks later my mother took one look at me and dragged me to the doctors. I was signed off work with depression and given tablets. I remember coming home and told him I had been to the doctors “yup” was his response. I told him what the doctor said, and about the pills and being signed off and all he was “okay” and left the room. I honestly felt like I was loosing my damned mind and he just didn’t care. Lets just say that this went on a lot longer than I should of let it and eventually after playing super sleuth I found the evidence I needed. He was indeed sleeping with a teacher he worked with. I felt like my world had ended, what was wrong with me? what did I do wrong? why wasn’t I enough? I felt like it was my fault I just didn’t know why!
I ended it, he grovelled we stayed living together (yes I know your shaking your head!) but in all honesty I was terrified. It had got to the point where I felt trapped by the house we had bought and I was so insecure in myself that I felt that I was better off staying than being on my own. It wasn’t long before he convinced me to give it another go but it was never the same, he was the perfect guy for maybe two weeks, then went back to being a douche and I just felt dead inside. I just felt nothing, empty. He controlled everything, what we did, where we went, the finances and I just existed. I should of known the relationship was doomed to fail when his mother asked me if I was going to make his packed lunch for him like she did and our first trip to Tesco’s involved him just standing there because he had never shopped for his own food (See, Man-Child).
As it turned out it was months of in depth conversation and support from my best friend via Skype while the douche was training (because I wasn’t allowed to see him or any male friends) that gave me the courage to leave, to put myself first. So that is what I did on the 15th of January 2015, I packed up and left. As it happens i’m married to that best friend now and he is still encouraging me to be me and follow my dreams. We are a team and tackle everything together. I got my happily ever after and you deserve yours too.
You deserve to be you, to have your own voice, your own hopes and dreams without someone belittling you. You should be surrounding yourself with people that have a positive effect on your life, that support you the same way you support them.
If anything I have said here has struck a chord with you, my suggestion is to talk to someone impartial, someone that you trust and is not involved in the situation to give you their perspective. If this isn’t an option for you there are professional organisation you can turn to for confidential advice.
Womens Aid – http://www.womensaid.org.uk
The Mens Advice Line – http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Smile at yourself in the mirror at least once a day, your gorgeous exactly the way you are!