Emotional Abuse in Intimate Relationships

7th August 2023by Krishna Gangadhar0
Emotional Abuse in Intimate Relationships


Emotional Abuse is the absolute worst. Why? You don’t have scars to show and prove as you can with physical abuse. It is not your body that is hurt so you can heal but your core spirit that is drowned into orchestrated self-doubt and fear by your partner; The one that you have trusted and loved. What’s worse ?! You were probably being emotionally abused for a very long time but haven’t identified it as emotional abuse. That is because, unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse is often subtle and can be challenging to recognize.
In Order to protect yourself and get away from emotional abuse you need to first understand what qualifies for emotional abuse( you would be surprised to know how many traits you have written off actually do qualify!), how to not lose self-confidence, hope and to finally heal yourself from within.
What is Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse in intimate relationships refers to a pattern of behaviors, attitudes, and actions by one partner that is designed to control, manipulate, degrade, and undermine the emotional well-being and self-esteem of the other partner. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse primarily targets a person’s emotions, thoughts, and beliefs, aiming to exert power and dominance over the victim. It involves manipulative behaviors aimed at controlling and undermining a partner’s self-esteem and confidence.
This insidious form of abuse can have severe and long-lasting effects on the victim’s mental health, self-worth, and ability to trust others. Over time, the victim may internalize the negative messages and begin to question their worth and abilities. Emotional abuse can erode their sense of self, leaving them feeling powerless, unworthy, and inadequate.
How to Identify Emotional Abuse
Most people understand and realize emotional abuse only in retrospection when the damage has already been done. Hopefully, The below examples may give you an idea of how subtle and manipulative emotional abuse can be;
Scenario 1: Your partner loves and adores you. You have young children and both of you decided that you will be a stay-home mom to raise your children. All is going well, you are happy. One fine day BOTH of you decide to throw a party for your friends. At some point mid-way through your party with ALL your friends gathered around, this conversation happens…
Humiliating and guilting
Friend: You are glowing! What’s the secret?
Husband: Of course she is! When you sit all day at home and just laze around you will obviously glow.
Though the decision was mutual, In this case, the husband resents his wife for not having to work and manipulates her into feeling guilty as she isn’t “working” as she is not directly contributing financially. Also, He doesn’t shy away from jumping at the opportunity to humiliate his partner in front of everyone and anyone.
Monitoring and Accusing
Imagine the same scenario but a different couple; the Wife is insecure and constantly observes what the husband is doing at the party; who is he socializing with? Why is he laughing so much at that woman’s jokes? Why is that woman touching his arm?

Wife: Who is that woman that’s all over you? You can’t let go of her grip?!

Husband: What do you mean? She is an old friend. Wait! You have been monitoring me all this while?
Wife: Well what else can I do when I cannot trust my husband?
The husband keeps quite not knowing how to prove himself to his wife accusing him of his infidelity.
Ridiculing and shaming
A different couple at that party having this conversation with everyone around; the Wife is a software engineer now taking home a 6-digit salary per month. The husband is a lecturer who makes less than his wife.
Husband(with everyone): yeah! Kids these days aren’t like how we were. They aren’t scared of us teachers but we are of them! On top of this, the management has extra work for us apart from teaching.
Everyone laughs and agrees
Wife: what! Haha, Teaching is one of the most chill jobs. What work do teachers do? Heh? They just read out from the textbook. Why else do you think they are paid so low?
The wife is ridiculing her husband’s profession and at the same time shaming him for earning less than her.
Neglecting and Denying
Physical intimacy plays a major role in strengthening the relationship in the initial stages and the continuity of the bond in the long run. It is this strength of it that gives the partner power over the other when they deny them all forms of intimacy.
Denying physical intimacy in emotional abuse relationships is a manipulative tactic used by the abuser to exert power and control over their partner. By withholding affection, intimacy, and sexual contact, the abuser aims to punish, isolate, and undermine the victim’s self-esteem. This behavior can leave the victim feeling emotionally disconnected, dependent on the abuser, and questioning their self-worth. It is essential to recognize that denying physical intimacy in a relationship is not a normal or healthy behavior. Read the conversation below to understand how painful neglect and intimacy denial can be;
Wife tries to get physically intimate with her partner
Husband: Oh God! Can’t you keep your hands to yourself? I have worked so hard all day and you just can’t give me some space.
Wife: I am sorry, but this is all the time we get to be together.
Husband: Just stop it. You are being sleazy.
How to keep your sanity and handle such situation
Navigating emotional abuse in relationships can be incredibly challenging and emotionally draining. It is essential to prioritize your well-being and maintain your sanity in such situations. When faced with emotional abuse, finding healthy coping strategies and developing a strong sense of self-awareness can be instrumental in handling the difficult emotions and dynamics that arise;
Recognize the Abuse:
Acknowledge that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. Understand that the abuser’s behavior is not your fault, and you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
Prioritize Safety:
Your safety must be your top priority. If the emotional abuse escalates or puts you in danger, take immediate action to protect yourself. Reach out to a domestic violence helpline, NGOs, or respective government organizations for guidance and assistance. Remember, there are people who care about your well-being and are ready to support you through this difficult time.
Educate Yourself:
Learn more about emotional abuse and its effects to better understand what you are experiencing. Don’t jump to conclusions and start accusing the abuser. Just educate yourself and muster the strength to reach out to a qualified psychologist.
Reach Out for Support:
Talk to someone you trust about what you’re experiencing. Sharing your feelings with friends, family, or a counselor can provide validation and help you gain perspective.
Limit Contact:
If possible, limit contact with the abuser to protect yourself from further harm. This may involve creating physical distance or limiting communication.
Focus on Self-Care:
Prioritize self-care practices, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones. Taking care of your emotional and physical well-being is crucial during this time.
Consider a Support Group:
Joining a support group for survivors of emotional abuse can provide a safe space to share experiences and learn from others who have been through similar situations.
Seek Professional Help:
Consider seeking counseling or therapy from a qualified mental health professional who has experience with emotional abuse. Therapy can offer guidance, validation, and coping strategies.
Finally, How to Heal Yourself
Healing from emotional abuse in relationships is a journey that requires courage, self-compassion, and a commitment to self-care. Enduring emotional abuse can leave deep wounds, impacting your self-esteem, trust, and emotional well-being. However, it is possible to heal and reclaim your life after such an experience;
Acknowledge and Validate Your Feelings:
Recognize that the emotional abuse was not your fault and that your feelings are valid. Give yourself permission to feel and process the emotions that arise from the experience.
Practice Self-Compassion:
Be kind and gentle with yourself during the healing process. Treat yourself with the same understanding and care that you would offer to a friend in a similar situation.
Establish Boundaries:
Set clear boundaries in all aspects of your life, including personal relationships and work. Learning to say no and protect your boundaries is essential for your emotional well-being.
Avoid Self-Blame:
Refrain from blaming yourself for the emotional abuse. Remember that the responsibility for the abuse lies with the abuser, not the victim.
Forgive Yourself:
Forgive yourself for not recognising the signs of your abusive relationship sooner. Understand that healing is a process, and it’s okay to take the time you need to recover.
Embrace a New Narrative:
Begin to create a new narrative for yourself, one that focuses on resilience, strength, and growth. Celebrate your progress however small, along the way.
Patience and Time:
Healing from emotional abuse takes time and patience. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to heal at your own pace.
It may seem easier to stay in an emotionally abusive relationship thinking that you are doing it for the kids or society but it will cost you everything; The same things that you choose to stay for. Children may not speak up but will understand what is happening and what about the psychological implications of that trauma. And as for society, They don’t care about you as much as you do about them. Pull yourself up, Muster the strength, and get all the help you can to get yourself out of an abusive relationship.
Author’s Name:- Krishna Gangadhar

Krishna Gangadhar

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