Emotional Abuse

Jocelyn - posted on 09/24/2012 ( 17 moms have responded )

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Hello everyone,



This post isn’t about me. It’s for all the women out there who are unhappy, who are shunned by their boyfriends/husbands but the men won’t let them go, who are controlled, intimidated, insulted, critiqued, and humiliated by the men who are supposed to love them. Yet you don’t want to leave because they’re just being selfish (all men are a little selfish), and that’s not like verbal abuse or physical abuse. It’s no reason to break up a family or wedding vows, right?



Last week I was at home searching for the words to describe my marriage. It’s not all-the-way verbal abuse (although he will call me lazy, useless, and crazy it is done in a speaking voice while we’re both arguing and I always imagined verbal abuse to be screaming obscenities with c-words and b-words), yet it’s not quite physical abuse (yet he uses intimidation such as pulling his arm back, then telling me how easy it would be to hit me but his conscience won’t let him, or when we fight he pushes me against a wall and holds me there with his body), it’s… emotional abuse. I came up with that term on my own, never having heard of it before, and decided to google it to see if it’s a real thing, because I didn’t want to misuse it if it was.



Not only is it a real term, but by all definitions of it, I am a victim of it and have been for ten years without even knowing it. I like to think I’m a woman of average intelligence, yet here I am, 28 years old, and I have never heard of ‘emotional abuse’. I think it’s a term every woman should know. We should grow up knowing the signs of emotional abuse so we can get out of unhealthy relationships before they escalate. So I am here to spread the word. Please take a moment to read through the signs, because it could change your life and open your eyes to what you’ve been living with.



“Disrespect vs. Abuse - How Can You Tell the Difference?” at http://www.dayoneny.org/dayone/get_help/... defines abusive behavior as “A pattern of abusive behavior in an intimate or romantic relationship where one person chooses to control the relationship through the use of force, intimidation or fear. The abusive behavior can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual. Sometimes it's subtle, and sometimes it's extreme. Without help, the abusive behavior usually gets worse.” It lists these warning signs: “extreme jealousy or insecurity, constant put-downs, possessiveness or treating you like property, telling you what to do, constantly checking in on you, explosive temper, making false accusations, isolating you from your friends and family, preventing you from doing things you want to do”.



The Wikipedia definition of psychological and emotional abuse is "the systematic diminishment of another. It may be intentional or subconscious (or both), but it is always a course of conduct, not a single event. Subtler emotionally abusive tactics include insults, putdowns, arbitrary and unpredictable inconsistency, and gaslighting (the denial that previous abusive incidents occurred).”



The “Counseling Center” at http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu... has its own definition of emotional abuse as “any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, and verbal or physical assaults. Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased. Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching,” or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting than physical ones (Engel, 1992, p. 10).”



I searched Circle of Moms for “emotional abuse” and found an article titled “6 Signs You Are in an Abusive Relationship” at http://www.circleofmoms.com/article/6-si... It gives six signs of emotional abuse: 1) your partner blames you for the mistreatment, 2) your partner tries to control you, 3) your partner withholds love and affection, 4) your partner berates, belittles, or humiliates, 5) your partner tries to isolate you, 6) your partner loses his temper quickly.



It’s so weird seeing your life laid out and every sign pointing at "abuse", yet not knowing it for ten entire years. Emotional abuse is a subtle, gradual wearing down of another, so gradual you don't even realize it's happening to you. Verbal and physical abuse are somewhat obvious, but women stay in those unhealthy relationships because they are preceded by emotional abuse. Emotional abuse slowly wears away your sense of self-worth without you knowing it, until you see yourself through his eyes and believe 1) he’s right and the abuse is deserved, 2) no one else would want you, and 3) you have nowhere else to go. If you can detect the warning signs of emotional abuse, you may be able to save yourself before it heads down that road and ten years have passed before you even realize what has happened.



In a relationship like this, you are never happy; your only happiness hinges on if he’s happy. In the rare times I was genuinely happy my husband would see it and he would start insulting me until I was in tears; but I didn’t believe that was reason enough to divorce. If you tell someone you’re a victim of verbal/physical abuse, the usual consensus is “Get out! You don’t have to take that! Make a better life for yourself and your child!” but if you tell someone you’re never happy, the response is “Well, marriage is work. You have to get through the bad times and take your vows seriously.” I did take my marriage vows seriously, but does that mean I have to live the rest of my life feeling like I’m less than a person?



I want to reiterate that I am not looking for advice or opinions on my situation. I am only seeking to help others. If you feel like you’re going through something similar, feel free to respond, but please don’t if it’s just about me. I am making a better life for myself already and you needn’t worry about me. If you know me personally and have stumbled upon this, don’t talk to me about it. I don’t want to know that you know. At least not right now.. maybe in a few years time..



(Edit: Removed personal stories of emotional abuse.. I don't like leaving loose ends lying around the internet.)

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Jocelyn - posted on 09/24/2012

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Sorry, what is your question? How does one change the emotional abuse? While some things with my husband have improved (such as using intimidation while fighting) many others have not (criticizing, never pleased, no sex life, really controlling, selfish). Someone who is emotionally abusive derives their own self-worth through superiority over others, so the more he puts you down and controls you, the better he feels. There is no cure for this, although some men may change over time. It may take three or four decades. I have waited around for one but I won't wait that long. My only answer is to leave. Or were you asking a question about being able to send private messages?

17 Comments

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Tricia - posted on 09/08/2016

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Hi Amy..If you are still in this relationship please read my post or here are some things to google; changing limited beliefs/people pleaser syndrome/co-dependent personality.

Tricia - posted on 09/08/2016

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Hi Danielle..If you are still in this type of relationship here are some things to google; changing limited beliefs/people pleaser syndrome/co-dependent personality/inner wounds/inner work/mindfulness. Also, please read my post.

Tricia - posted on 09/08/2016

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Hi Jocelyn
I have been looking for posts like this for about two years, as well as psychology info. ect...Some months before that I realized that there patterns there that were familiar patterns in most of my relationships. I already knew since I was dating my husband that he occassionally was physically and verbally abusive towards me. I rationalized his behavior, based on things he had told me about his life/family, that I could related to and because he was often gentle, sweet and had/has other positive aspect to his personality. I also didn't realize at that time that I had my own issues, which were contributing to why I rationalized these things, and why I responded the way I did to many things. But that was just a clue to what had been going on in my life.
I've learned there are people who Troll the Mom communities who clearly aren't Moms and aren't reading the threads for the same purpose, so I'm very hesitant about giving alot of details which could be helpful to emotional manipulators, so long story short:
I now know that I grew up with three emotional manipulators, and have many reasons to believe that at least two of them gradually interferred with many or most of my relationships. Encouraging others to participate. I know it's difficult to believe because I refused to believe the extent of the hostility myself for about four decades. During which I reacted in ways that made me look like a problem; emotional, a blamer/tattle-tale, or mentally ill, which I'm certain was the plan. I was and still am to some degree, all of these things, due to how coped/learned to deal with my childhood relationship dynamics and my experiences. Basically their Emotional Manipulation created/contributed to or exagerated my emotional responses, which perpetuated the continued abuse and helped them to spin, as well as actually influence/change to some degree my social image and personality. The longer you're Played/Set up/Emotionally Manipulated, the more they can spin your social image, breaking down your support as well as you own self confindence and perceptions, Isolating you socially, emotionally and financially. Beware of being OVERTLY suspicious though, as this works for them as well. I again realized too late that some of their behavior was intentionally overtly suspicious (because I was in the habit of sharing may fears,suspicions and complaints of antagonism to some people),sharing my suspicions makes me seem too paranoid.
I didn't realize for years that the majority of negative behaviors/comments/stories told to me were anatgonism.
I've worked sparatically since realizing the harassment at that job, and possible (some definate) intentional manipulation/harassment at jobs since. I'm dependent on my husband, and almost completely socially isolated. I fear what will happen at the next job.
I'm not seeking pity, understanding and may be some empathy, yes, because realize I need people who have been in similar circumstances/have similar struggles, and that those people may need support from me as well.
In my experience, there are at least two categories of reasons/motives for why someone seems to want pity:
*To maliciously,intentionally manipulate-to hurt/harm/control/mislead someone who did nothing to deserve it, at least not in the begining, until they reacted in ways that encouraged/triggered more harassment. Or other possible reasons ?
*To acquire some type/amount of positive support-they are over powered/overwhelmed emotionally and haven’t learned effective strategies to deal with their situation. If they have been emotionally manipulated for years/since childhood/in extreme ways/by more than one person, they could have periods of depression or frequent/constant mild depression, or feel like every effort results in failure, because; they were frequently overtly and/or subtly critisized,harassed,mislead, set up to fail,i.e..getting antagonized/harrassed ect..,then when they tried to let the person know that it was unwanted behavior they received a negative or hostitle response/were “punished” by the antagonist in some way. Intentionally (or possibly unintentionally ?) to damage their self-esteem/to make them self-conscious,just for fun or many other possible reasons.
So, in my opinion, if someone is complaining about someone else and seems to want pity, but isn’t encouraging you directly to get involved to help them control or punish the person, they are probably more likely a Targeted or Traumtized person. Even if they have some negative behaviors, because if you live in a predominately negative environment on top of being directly harassed/abused/manipulated-stressed !!! You will likely pick up some negative behaviors and attitudes (group behavior), especially if/when you have some depression.
What can you do ?-Give positive support as in the form of advice, realizing that your advice may not seem doable to them, but they may just need to vent or have their feelings/perspective validated. For your boundary sake, make it clear to them what you're willing to do and what you're not willing to do, and remember they need to do things to help themselves, to build their self confidence. For example-invite them to do things like take a class that interests them, but don't play it up like completing this class will solve your problems, because that could have the opposite effect,especially if for some reason (which there are many) they don't do well or drop out. This may need to be done more incrimentally with some people than with others.
Where as someone who is trying to get pity/empathy (overtly or subtly), AND is definately trying to persuade you to be actively involved in teaching their problem person a lesson/controlling them in some way/misleading them/retaliating against them, is in my opinion, more likely to be intentionally manipulating for a negative or malicious reason.
What can you do ? Please stay neutral, make your boundaries clear, and please encourage other people to not get charmed or pressured into helping someone punish someone else.

Helen - posted on 06/17/2013

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Hi Jocelyn you have just summed up a lot of the behavhior that my supposedly loving husband hands out to me. I have been married 20 years and spent most of these years sad feeling unloved and unloveable. He thinks he is the best husband/father in the world (we have a beautiful 17 yr old daughter) and has no insight into his abusive personality. He blames me for his bad behaviour, I apparently have a big f..king mouth and should have learned by now to keep it shut!! Then all would be fine!! I nearly divorced him 3 years ago but he begged me to stay accepted the blame and admitted being "an nagging bully" and promised to change, so I stayed.Things were great for a while it was like being married to a totally different man but alas it didn't last and things have been getting back to the emotionally abusive way.I have been denying that his behaviour has been deteriorating, all I want is a loving caring marriage.6 weeks ago he physically and verbally went for me in a terrible rage and this happened in front of a girl friend of mine who prevented him from doing real physical harm to me ( he had kicked me on my backside and was about to kick me some more when my friend told him she was a witness, that made him stop) .My friend was horrified and she was the one who suggested I look up abuse on the internet. The penny dropped I know this must sound idiotic, but I hadn't realised he was abusing me. I am still with him ,but am seeing a councillor and getting myself emotionally prepared to divorce him. I have to get out of this marriage before it kills me (I have suffered with depression and suicidal thoughts last time I tried to leave). I am going to make myself strong so he can't talk me into staying.
Your post has helped me , I'm going to get and stay strong you make sure you do the same
Take care and have a happy life

Jocelyn - posted on 03/15/2013

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Anna and Kelsey,

I'm so glad you two got out of those relationships! It is such a weird feeling reading every sign of emotional abuse and each one hitting home in your own relationship. I'm glad this post served its purpose to help other women realize they are not the one with the issues when they're in an emotionally abusive relationship. It's the over-controlling, ridiculing men with the issues and we deserve better!

Danielle,

Those behaviors are definitely emotionally abusive. My heart goes out to you.. Everybody deserves and needs friends, especially women who bond and become stronger when we talk about our lives, struggles and men. It doesn't sound like a healthy relationship that he treats you like a child (or even like a prisoner when he restricts what you have in your own home). You mentioned having a grandson, surely you have family you could stay with temporarily, just to help you move onto a better life. Reach out to them and you will be surprised who stands by you. Just be honest with what you have been suffering through and try to become self-sufficient. You can do it. No woman should put up with any form of abuse because they feel trapped; their abusive men are making them feel that way. There are options. You are not alone.

Danielle - posted on 03/15/2013

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My husband is definately emotionally abusive . When we first got together he was very sweet and charming. That only lasted until we got custody of his children two years ago. Before that, I noticed signs of the abuse but, figured I could fix him. I don't know why I thought that because my ex-husband of five years was emotionally and physically abusive. And I tried to fix him without success. I feel I have this bad pattern of ending up with the wrong guy. My husband and I have been married three years now and his abuse has gotten to the point where i just can't take it anymore. I'm not allowed to have friends. He has isolated me from my family also. I have to ask to go see my grandson and when I do he makes me feel guilty for using gas and putting miles on his truck. I'm not allowed to be included in the finances. I have to ask for money and when I get it he makes me feel guilty about it. He also takes things away from me when I do something he doesn't like. Like yesterday I went to see a friend without telling him and when he got home he yelled at me for not answering my phone. Then he took my phone, cigarettes and even my snacks that I keep in my room. He's very childish and imature. I really want to try and make this marriage work . But, if things don't change I'm going to end up in the nut house. If I do leave I have no where to go and no one to talk to I'm scared.

Kelsey - posted on 03/07/2013

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Wow. This post was an eye opener for me. I had thought I was the crazy one. I never realized I was in emotionally abusive relationship. He was exactly like the links you posted. Thank goodness, I only stuck around for two years. Then I gave him the boot. I couldn't imagine being married to him let alone having our son grow up around that. Thank you for the post. I feel much better now that I know I didn't go "crazy" after my son was born.

Anna - posted on 03/07/2013

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Truth is I went through that myself. I made him leave, thankfully. The berating and denigrating had kept going through visitations of the children including to the children. I put a protection order to protect myself and my children. My children and myself had counselling to help heal. They no longer see him and he's taking me to court. I am being strong for my children. Protecting them is what I need to do to prevent anymore damage to my kids emotional welfare. No man or woman should subject their loved ones to such disgusting behaviour. It's not healthy for those involved. The emotional damage runs deep and the best way to heal is to remember you are worth it and instill this into your children.

Jocelyn - posted on 09/26/2012

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Amy,



The way you describe your husband's anger sounds like mine. Short bursts of improvement after fights (or sometimes promises to improve that are never fulfilled). My husband used to think if he wanted to stop being angry he could just turn it off like a switch but now we both know it doesn't work like that. Explosive anger and being continuously angry is caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. He can want to change with all his might but not be able to. A prescription could be the ticket for you both to lead much happier lives. Convincing him to go to the doctor is hard though. Mine only went when he was up to his ears in trouble and I told him I'm leaving him. If your husband has already agreed to go but just hasn't made the appoinment, instead of giving him a time frame before bringing it up, I would remind him everyday until it gets done. Otherwise he may just ignore it and hope you forget; men tend to say anything to get out of a fight without really meaning to follow through. Hold him to his word. Good luck to you.

Amy - posted on 09/26/2012

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I really don't feel I can leave...maybe I'm just not strong enought idk. It's just hard because we have talked about it & he does better for short bursts of time but always goes back to being angry etc. I talked to him recently about going to the Dr & also getting therapy & he said he would but he hasn't even tried to make an appt. how long do I give him before I bring it up again? It is extreamly hard to talk to someone who is angry so much esp for me as he was the one who kinda helped "save me" for my ex who used to hit me & even though he doesn't hit me because I have been in that type of situation it is a fear that it could happen...

Chaya - posted on 09/25/2012

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You need to get your children and get out. If you stay, you teach your children that this behaviour is appropriate

Jocelyn - posted on 09/25/2012

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Juile,



Emotional abuse is definitely painful. We've both been through it and it leaves lasting internal scars that may never fully heal. Just thinking about the rejections and humiliations flashes me back to that moment and I feel the same right now as I did back then. I haven't been through physical abuse, and while those bruises may heal, some scars are permanent and I'm sure fearing for one's life and your children's lives is as unlivable as our emotional turmoil. I wouldn't wish either on any man or woman, not even our abusers. You are right, no one has the right to harm another life.

Jocelyn - posted on 09/25/2012

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Amy,



You can always leave. If I knew the solution then I wouldn’t be leaving either. Emotional abuse is a combination of many different behaviors: humiliation, explosive anger, put-downs/insults, withholding love/affection, control, isolation, intimidation and each one can have its own causes and solutions. I would advise writing down a list of his traits that are in-line with emotional abuse and searching your knowledge of his history for possible causes, then appropriate solutions. Then you could try each solution for a month to see if it helps, but he should be on board for self-improvement too.



If you need any help with certain areas in your relationship, just let me know what the issues are and I can try to help you find solutions, but you know your husband better than anyone else, so I don’t know if I can provide information specific to your situation.

Julie - posted on 09/25/2012

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hi I believe emotioonal abuse is far worse than physical as its invisible and the damage can last a lifetime I lived through this for 8 years until I found the strength to get out. It took another 20 years to get my confidence back physical abuse you can for the most part see and the bruises go away emotional abuse affects all of you life and then affects your children and even onto the next generation. Their should be zero tolerance to abuse of any kind regardless of whether he victim is female or male or abuse of a child no one as the right o harm another life no matter who they are .

Amy - posted on 09/25/2012

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I was asking about the emotional abuse...I was just going to try to private mssg instead of discussing it here. So what if you feel you can't leave? Are there any steps to take to try to make it better, make him happy?

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