Trigger warning: this article may trigger victim/survivors of psychological abuse. Please proceed with caution.
Psychological abuse as a form of abuse has not been talked about much and does not get the awareness that is given to physical abuse. It deserves more awareness and light of day as it has been a perpetual source of misery in the lives of many. Emotional violence can compromise mental wellbeing to a drastic extent. Survivors and victims live in constant fear and lose the ability to think and act rationally in day-to-day life. It is like living a life of anxiety and restlessness, while completely ignoring the pursuit of your own happiness because of/for a person who does not care for your mental wellbeing.
Abuse is not always physical or evident. It can be verbal as well as emotional. The abuser assumes he has a sense of entitlement and power over the victim – which he should exercise, while constantly making them guilty for whatever they say or do. He engages in a kind of progressive manipulation coupled with an air of condescension. Emotional abuse typically drags a person to a state of self-denial and a continuous cycle of tolerating abuse, as the person starts blaming themselves for whatever is happening to them. Also, sheer dependency on the abuser or lack of support restrains the survivor/victim from evading such abuse.
The abuse might start from the dismissal of needs, demands, priorities or of even identity.
Therefore, it becomes really important for us to identify and analyse the red flags in any relationship before the actual abuse starts. Any relationship whether it’s with a partner, family, friends, etc, can turn out to be emotionally and mentally abusive. Therefore, the initial symptoms in unhealthy and toxic relationships should be recognized and dealt with as early as possible.
Signs of psychological abuse
An emotionally abusive person will definitely show some or all of these traits. Emotionally abusive people will resort to either subtle or direct abuse depending on his patterns of bullying and manipulation. They will have extremely unrealistic and high expectations and even a higher sense of dissatisfaction with the survivor/victim. They will demand all their time and attention and will try controlling their emotions, sometimes even defining the survivor/victim’s emotions. The abuse might start from the dismissal of needs, demands, priorities or of even identity.
Here are some of the signs which tell that the relationship is emotionally abusive. The first and foremost red flag which can help you identify abuse is that you continue walking on eggshells for the abuser. You live in constant fear of not being good enough as the abuser distorts your perception of reality, resulting in feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness.
The abuser can use various techniques for attacking the person. For example – blackmailing, humiliation, gaslighting, manipulation, exaggeration of events, defaming, practising a sarcastic/mocking tone while communication, withholding love/money as torture, excessive control and monitoring personal life/space/finances, dismissing any wish of the victim/survivor as materialistic, passive aggressiveness, isolation by restricting contact with any other person, name calling, lying and so on.
The abuser may also resort to threats and blackmail to fulfil their motives. They may harm the things you love or hold dearest. Spying is another major sign to identify psychological abuse. The abuser will show disrespect towards you and not even respect your right to privacy. Constant nudging to share passwords with them or them intruding in your personal space indicates abusive behaviour.
The first and foremost red flag which can help you identify abuse is that you continue walking on eggshells for the abuser.
Isolation/alienation as earlier mentioned is one of the most common signs one can find in an abusive relationship. The victim/survivor is generally alienated from any social contact so that the abuser has complete emotional dominance and continues to exercise control over the victim/survivor. Moreover, if you try to confront them, they resort to blame games or self-victimization, and sometimes even threaten that they will commit suicide – so much so that you find it worthless to even discuss the issues.
Psychological abuse – in the form of verbal abuse – whether subtle or direct, sugarcoated or bitter, is hurtful and damaging for mental health. Codependency and dehumanizing behaviours should never be accepted within any relationship and therefore it becomes extremely crucial for any person to break free from the trap of psychological abuse as early as possible.
We need to make mental health a priority over toxic attachments and dependence. Healthy boundaries should be made and stuck to. It’s really important to confront your abuser and to call this out. Seek support whenever possible. It’s important for all of us to provide help and support to any survivor of emotional abuse and call out abusers who conveniently feed their egos and farce superiority at the cost of someone’s mental health.
Featured image used for representational purpose only. Source: Pinterest