Maybe they don’t hit you, but they do most of the five things below to abuse you. Notice the use of the gender pronoun “they.” This is not gender specific, since not all abusers are male—some are female and some are in same-sex Relationships.

Researchers report that approximately 30% of intimate partner abuse that results in a homicide take place in intimate relationships with no previous reported history of violence. Keep in mind that emotional abuse can be extremely violent and damaging, yet it’s rarely reported.

Emotional Abuse is rarely reported

Often, the abuse is so manipulative that it may take you awhile to pinpoint what is going on. You may even question yourself and start to believe that you are overreacting. Also, the emotional abuse is often invisible, there are no scars for the outside world to see.

Have the following things ever gone through your mind?

  • I do not think anyone would believe me or understand me; but I feel like I am Losing My Mind.
  • S/he hasn’t actually hit me, so I must be imagining the whole thing.
  • Some people have it worse, s/he has never hit me, but I don’t feel like myself lately.

If you constantly feel like you have lost your mind or something isn’t right in your relationship, you ARE in fact in an abusive relationship.

We all have the occasional argument or emotional outburst… feelings get hurt, maybe things are said that are angry; but, that is not emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is a specific, it's a pattern of control and abuse. It breaks you down, chips away at your well-being and independence, and its' sole purpose it to control you.

Healthy relationships emanate trust and love. When you bring up a grievance or issue, you should feel safe, not like you have to walk on eggshells everytime. THAT is not normal. Let’s take a look at what is NOT normal so that you can understand that an abuser makes excuses for their behavior, and it is not your fault.

5 Phenomena that are signs of emotional abuse

1. Gaslighting

This happens when the abuser rewrites or dismisses what actually happened. You definitely see an event happen (you saw it, heard it) yet your partner denies it. You begin to feel like you are losing your mind because every time you see them do something or bring it up, they lie.

Your reality (the truth) is constantly re-written by the abuser.

2. The silent treatment or avoidance

Generally, people with low emotional intelligence will ignore their partner and hope to teach them a lesson, it's a form of punishment. The abuser will maintain a false sense of power and control by showing their partner that they are insignificant through their cruel silence.

The abuser will diminish your existence and deny love and connection in your relationship. This is meant to deter you from standing up for yourself again the future; it is a clear way to avoid ever addressing the problem.

3. The Ol’ Switch-a-Roo

When you try to address an issue, they start bringing up everything else and constantly jab or use old arguments. They change the topic at every advance, until you actually lose track of the original grievance.

For example, you start addressing how they have said something angry or caused harm, then somehow the argument shifts and the entire focus on is on old things that you have said or YOUR faults. Now, you are attacking them, and they are all of the sudden inadequate and it is about their feelings.

You are left spinning, and feeling like nothing was accomplished and even question if you were even accurate in bringing up anything to begin with.

You start out with a valid point; but, now you’re being told you’re immature, passive aggressive, or making them feel a certain way. The conversation ends with WTF, am I losing my mind?!

4. Emotional baiting

You actually end up looking like the crazy one here. They will actually use things that they have been harboring for a long time to throw back at you, like they’ve been waiting to pounce all along. They will try to get a reaction instead of addressing the issue that needs solving.

5. Empathy vs. Indifference

It is important to see how your partner handles you being in a rut: being sick, being depressed, and just plain not having a good day.

You could use a shoulder to cry on, but you start to see that you can’t rely on your partner for that. Their tolerance for your woes is limited because they need you to focus on them and taking care of them. A loving partner is a soft place to land and will be there right alongside you whenever you are troubled. If your partner isn’t, you should be seeing that as a red flag.

Misdiagnosed depression

If you have ever had to go to couples’ counseling, the perpetrator may be diagnosed as “depressed.” The clinician may miss the underlying issue of possible narcissism or a personality disorder. The source of the depression is a sense of entitlement, entitlement to abuse that often leads to victim blaming.

Abusers often use their own issues to deflect responsibility, or they start to make you believe that you are causing their mental illness.

Key takeaways:

  • Abusers commonly tell you that you are lying, even in the face of solid proof. They create an alternate reality.
  • They avoid accountability, even if they are caught in the act, they always have an excuse or an immediate answer.
  • They have extremely hostile reactions to being called out, they often flip it around on you and cannot handle being corrected.
  • Silent treatment is one of the subtlest forms of abuse and control; they become depressed and act angry when you in fact, are the one who has been slighted.

Sadly, most victims of emotional abuse only understand they were in an abusive relationship after it ends.

Some have been through it before, and are only beginning to see the signs of abuse. Through awareness and through education we can spread the word that any form of abuse is ABUSE and that it is not acceptable.