Copyright 2014 Roberta Gallagher
A few weeks ago I received a text from a young woman asking if she is in an emotionally abusive relationship. I replied that there is no easy answer to that.
Upon reflection it puts me in mind of a friend of mine who when we were both married about five years asked me “How do you know if you’ve had an orgasm?” The answer to both questions is, if you have to ask there is a problem.
First I will list the most common signs of emotional abuse.
You feel humiliated, degraded.
Your feelings are discounted.
You are told you are too sensitive and your feelings are wrong.
Your opinions, thoughts and suggestions are dismissed.
There is a theme of domination, control and shame.
You feel treated as an inferior. They are always right.
Your aspirations and plans are belittled.
Your partner is accusing and blaming and have trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations.
They show you a lack of respect, call you names and label you while blaming you for all their problems.
They use pouting, withdrawal and the withholding of attention when they feel wronged.
Those who have been verbally abused by a parent or any significant person growing up will often gravitate toward a partner or even friends who will tell them what to do and what to think. The controlling stance will feel familiar and even comfortable.
It is important to realize that your relationship does not have to meet all the above to be considered emotionally abusive. If you are growing in self doubt and you fear the reaction you will get if you make a request for change this is not a healthy relationship.
Regardless of whether it is emotionally abusive or emotionally unsatisfying, something is wrong. If you have lost confidence in your own intuition, you are not in a healthy relationship. Good relationships are synergistic. Each person becomes the best of themselves.
Seek help to define what your basic rights are in a relationship. Seek help to understand how your own negative self talk sets you up to volunteer to be a victim. For the abuser, you also need help. Both victim and abuser will repeat this pattern and never know what they must do to have satisfying relationships.