If you have ever seriously asked yourself the question, “What are the signs of emotional abuse?” and were considering your own relationship when you asked the question, you can be sure that there are some clear indicators that may signal emotional abuse. Your instincts may be screaming from the inside to gain your full attention, and you may have been conditioned to ignore these red flags . You may be denying the deliberate actions of the toxic other or minimizing the behaviors to justify abusive conduct that is, without a doubt, unacceptable.
Many times our brain does not want to acknowledge these clear indicators because these signals are contradicting some deep held beliefs about ourselves. It is literally painful for the brain to acknowledge that “I am partnered with someone who calls me names and criticizes me regularly and I am choosing to stay.” or “I am with a cheater who continues to lie to me and doesn’t take any responsibility for his actions. I don’t trust him anymore yet I am staying because I am afraid to be alone.”
So instead of saving ourselves we justify and deny what is right in front of us so we don’t have to confront the truth and deal with a difficult reality.
It can start subtly and slide into a dizzying decline before turning into an unending cycle. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you fear the angry outbursts?
Do you feel drained and confused hoping, wishing and praying for his/her “moods” to pass?
Do you get the silent treatment if you dare to disagree?
Do you endure harsh name calling and punishing comments and yet still attempt to appease this person?
Are you criticized for your outfits, your weight, your choice friends, your pursuits (unless of it makes him/her “look good”), and the new recipe you tried?
Do you feel that the toxic other is indifferent to your personal losses and disappointments and has limited empathy towards what you are going through?
Is there unpredictable behavior and a near constant state of chaos surrounding your life?
Is every move and waking moment unconsciously fine-tuned to the moods and actions of the toxic one?
Are you controlled by this person and his moods, affection (or lack of it)?
Does he refuse to take responsibility for anything? Does he make excuses and blame others?
Do you find that everyone else is the cause of all his/her problems? The booze, the job, the boss, his childhood, your friends, your family – you name it. Everyone and everything else is to blame.
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you need to take a long, clear, conscious look at your relationship. Write down the actions of the toxic other so you don’t forget and share the information with a close and trusted friend. Watch their reaction. Get into counseling.