Building a strong, healthy relationship depends on a lot of different things. Love, respect, kindness, attraction, compatability, and so much more. You’ll have your roadblocks, your disagreements and then you’ll have your great moments. The ones where you couldn’t imagine it to be any better.
But there is sometimes a really dark, scary and scarring side to some relationships. Toxic, unhealthy and sometimes we just look the other way until its far too late.
Emotional and Verbal abuse is still abuse. A study done in 1995 reported that 39% of women have been in an emotionally abusive relationship in the last 5 years. Thats a lot of women. When I was thinking about this post I found a few articles that talked about how to get out, how to cope and how to recognize the signs. But what I found was the most horrifying was the comments after the articles…each one, describing their situation and saying they can’t get out. Their kids are involved, they’re afraid, and they have no place to go.
So what is Emotional/Verbal Abuse?
It is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, post traumatic stress disorder. Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, and bullying. (Psychological Abuse)
How do you recognize it?
Recognizing this kind of abuse can be the most difficult. Its usually subtle, and after some time you may believe the words coming out of your partner’s mouth. Sometimes you’re blinded by love and refuse to acknowledge it.
I’ve been in this situation. Twice. The first time, it escalated to physcial violence. And the second time, it was so subtle that until I finally left the relationship for other reasons, I didn’t even realize. Once I left those relationships, especially the last one, I vowed I would NEVER tolerate that ever again. And the moment I felt like I was being manipulated, or controlled or treated poorly I left.
Here are some signs and behaviors that you should be on the lookout for:
- They put you down and make you feel bad about yourself; whether it be your body , your mind or your actions. They are degrading and belittling.
- Calling you names. Yes in the heat of the moment in an argument names may be called, but if its happening regularly or if the names are more extreme. (i.e your partner shouldn’t be calling you a whore or a slut)
- They require to know your whereabouts at all times. If you don’t tell them where you are they get angry.
- They have volitle unpredictable behavior. You have to walk on eggshells and never know what you say or do is going to set them off.
- Threaten to hurt you or your family, or even just threaten to do things that they know you wouldn’t like (ie If you do that I’ll cheat on you)
- They ask you to change jobs, careers or quit your job because they want you to be at home.
- Is very jealous and accuses you of inapproriate behavior even when you haven’t done anything.
- Judges you based on things that happened before you met them.
- Holds things against you for longer than necessary.
- Checks your emails, social media and cell phone without your permission.
- Blames you for problems that are not your fault or are out of your control.
- You are AFRAID. If you are afraid at any point in your relationship, there’s a problem!
So how do you get out?
Recognizing that you are in an abusive relationship is the first step. Getting out really can be the hardest thing. Its scary. Sometimes you know you need to leave but you don’t want to because you love the person. But remember, someone who really loves you wouldn’t treat you this way. I’m not a religious person but I find that the quote from the Bible about love really is how love should be.
However you find the strength to get out is up to you. There is no right or wrong way. I found it easiest to go home to family the first time. I moved back to Michigan from Chicago for about 3 months. I came back and was stronger and happier. I had my parents and sisters to support me. The second time it was after a 4 year relationship. Luckily he gave me a reason to leave one of my dealbreakers (cheating). But even then like with any breakup its hard. I cried at work, in front of customers and coworkers. But in the end I surrounded myself with my friends. I deleted all forms of contact and did a complete cut off. Thats what worked for me. Not everyone can cut off all contact. And I understand. I continued to have contact with my first ex. I still occasionally speak to him now (but I also see how many issues he is and very much keep my distance).
I think though, the best thing you can do is find support. Find friends, family, even strangers who can be there for you. To root you on and keep you strong. Once you’ve managed to get through the first month or two, it will get much easier. Have a good support system.
And for goodness sakes…don’t text them!