When you say the words “abusive relationship,” most immediately assume a physically abusive and life-threatening relationship. Although this is a great cause for concern, physical harm is not the only type of abuse affecting individuals in long-term relationships and marriages. Emotionally abusive relationships can be just as harmful as a physical one, if not worse. A physically- abusive relationship leaves a trace behind, a mark, scars - A sign to others to intervene and help. On the other hand, an emotionally abusive relationship is not always easy to spot, and the signs might be easier to conceal. Emotional abuse is just as damaging and scarring as one that is physically damaging, they both leave deep emotional wounds that take time to heal.
It may be difficult to spot and determine whether a relationship is abusive and affecting your well-being. It is important to remember that abuse may start with mind games and toxic behavior while later escalating to physical abuse. For this reason, you should not brush off the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse in a relationship. If you or your loved one is currently in an abusive relationship, you do not have to go through this alone. Here, at Dr. Messina and Associates, we provide extensive diagnosis, care, and treatment for our patients.
Feeling confined or restricted because of your partner is not a typical part of a relationship. It is okay to keep communication and casual check-ins. But these check-ins should not feel like demands, and they should not be interfering with your privacy and your well-being.
Asking you to wear different clothes because they do not like them, changing your routine for them, and even trying to manipulate the way you spend your money are all signs of controlling behavior.
Fear, obligation, and guilt are all internal signs of manipulation. You should not have to be convinced or coerced into doing something, let alone leave yourself in fear. The feeling of obligation comes with knowing that there is a burden on you, and now you must execute or there will be consequences. Guilt is the product of the above, you might be feeling guilty either because you did not do something or manipulated into it or because you did something you never intended to do.
Gaslighting is a term used to describe the manipulation of a person that leads them to questions themselves and their reality. When someone or your partner gaslights you, there will be a deep sense of guilt because you were led to believe that you could not accomplish what you were asked to do.
If you are in a long-term relationship or marriage, it might be hard to spot this red flag. Boundaries are usually set early on in relationships; however, there might be times when we become more lenient, and these boundaries are pushed past their limit.
Leniency with boundaries may not be an issue if it is a decision coming from within; however, if it is a choice made under pressure or due to coercion, it is usually a sign of an abusive relationship.
An invasion of privacy can be as simple as moving too quickly in the relationship (when you are not ready to do so) or physically invading, such as checking your social media or text messages without your consent.
If you are in a healthy and nurturing relationship, you will make one another feel safe, loved, and confident. If you are constantly feeling insecure because of your partner's controlling behavior and making you believe you are not good enough, think again. This is a sign of emotional abuse, and your partner is diminishing you and your capabilities to have a greater sense of control over you.
There are times when your partner might go as far as shaming you. If your partner shames you, pokes fun of you, or embarrasses you in front of others, this is an evident sign of emotional abuse.
This form of emotional abuse is silent, more so than others as it may take years for it to show.
Many people suffering from a mentally abusive relationship may not realize they have been isolated from their loved ones by their partner. It is until it is pointed by a family member or friend that they realize they have drifted. Many abusers like to isolate their partners from all support systems as a form to keep them under control. Your partner may argue that they are the only support system you need is one another. They might also insist that it is best to stay away from your family or friends for your own sake.
Isolation can be a dangerous place to be in as this can lead to further psychological distress with little to no support to rely on. During isolation, a person lacks a support system or someone to rely on and guide them through this difficult process. Because isolation is a dangerous place to be in, you should not go through this alone and seek professional care.
Battling an emotionally or physically abusive relationship can lead to the psychological damage that takes hard work to reverse. You should not have to go through this on your own and consider seeking professional help to guide you and help you heal from the emotional and psychological trauma you have endured.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.
In-person appointments are available in our DFW (Southlake) Offices. Online counseling appointments are available to patients in the Austin, DFW (Southlake), Houston, and San Antonio areas.