Bruises and scratches are physical reminders of physical abuse received at the hands of someone you loved and trusted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 10 million women and men are victims of intimate partner violence. The scars we don’t see, however, are the ones left from emotional abuse. They are internal, scarring your heart, mind and soul. Studies show there is correlation between suicidal behavior, depression and intimate partner abuse. Many times, the signs go undetected by not only the abuse victim but also their family and friends. These five signs are just a few ways to define the relationship you’re in as emotionally abusive.
1. Your significant other camouflages “jokes” as a way to say mean and hurtful things to you.
“Jokes” about your weight, the way you dress, your new hair color. How often has your partner laughed and made fun of you and when you’re hurt or upset by it, they tell you you’re too sensitive? They mask their emotionally harmful comments as “jokes” to make you feel like you’re wrong for feeling “sensitive” about the negative things they say about you, especially in front of others.
2. You are apologizing or feeling bad for your significant other although they have mistreated you.
In your moments of feeling too sensitive or what your partner defines as overreacting, you find yourself apologizing to them. Emotionally you have become so broken by your partner, you feel as if you are the person in the wrong in every situation and end up feeling guilty, as if you owe your abusive partner an apology and explanation.
3. You do everything you can to avoid disappointing or upsetting your partner.
You find yourself questioning everything you do and say, second guessing yourself constantly so you don’t upset your partner. You spend your days making sure you don’t do or say anything that will set them off. You think that if you just sensor your words or actions, it will stop your partner from getting upset or frustrated. It never seems to work but you continue to tip toe around your partner, hoping you don’t set them off.
4. Your partner refuses to shower you with love, physical interaction or money.
You reach out to hold their hand and they snatch away. You go in for a kiss and they move their head. You attempt to use your credit card while grocery shopping and it’s declined because it’s now closed. These things and others keep happening over and over again, monthly, weekly, daily. Your partner uses money, sex and affection as a way to control you. It’s their way of making sure you will always need them and always desire them. They are essentially breaking you down to build you back up to break you down again.
5. Your partner alienates you from your friends, family and anyone that could define them as an abuser.
You haven’t saw your mother, siblings or best friend in months. When they call, your partner makes threats or starts an argument in an attempt to prevent you from answering your phone. At work, you spend your lunches and breaks talking to your partner because if you don’t, they will be extremely upset after work. By forcing you to shut out the people that love and support you, your partner recognizes that you are solely dependent on them for all your emotional support, giving them full control over your daily life.
No abuse is ok. It’s not your responsibility to save your abusive partner, it’s your job to save yourself. If you need help leaving an abusive situation, please contact Mahogany CARES for resources and support at 262-993-5444 or the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit their website at http://www.thehotline.org/.