At some point in life, most of us have experienced being in a toxic relationship, whether we’re aware of it or not. People of all ages, nationalities and sexual orientations can find themselves in an unhealthy relationship, confused as to how they got there, or perhaps even unsure the situation is unhealthy. While physical abuse is obvious, mental and emotional abuse can be subtle – and also falls under the title of “domestic abuse.” It can also be particularly hard to notice things are wrong when you suffer from low self-worth. Abusive behavior can seem right to those who don’t know their own value.
Here are 5 signs you’re in an abusive relationship.
When you try to speak with your partner, do they refuse to hear your side? Do they deny everything you say to the point of questioning your sanity? Do you question your own? Having disagreements is normal, but a partner who refuses to have an open conversation is problematic.
2. Isolating You from Others
If you feel you need the love, support and energy of close friends and family, but your partner isolates you from them, this is a sign of abuse. It could be subtle, pretending to be sick or in a funk to get you to stay home with them instead; or it could be more obvious, as in forbidding you to see certain people.
3. Put Downs
Saying something you know will be hurtful to someone is a form of verbal abuse. You are intentionally causing them pain. Though it may be said in jest, the humor may simply be a cover for cruelty.
If your partner is constantly putting you down or intentionally pushing your buttons, this is a sign of disrespect and even hostility.
4. Using the Guilt Card
Much abuse comes in the form of manipulation, and guilt is one of the easiest ways to manipulate another’s emotions to get them to do what you want. If you feel you are being manipulated through guilt to the point where you’re ready to give up any power you have in the relationship, this is a sign something may be going on. For instance, it is natural and healthy for a person to need time alone. Does your partner guilt you into spending your alone time with them?
5. Controlling Your Behavior
This could mean a broad range of things, from controlling how you dress to what you say and where you go. Again, it may be subtle. Maybe they buy you clothes often and tease you about your sense of style, or lack thereof. Maybe they tease you and say that you sound “silly” not knowing what you’re talking about regarding politics. This is disrespectful and abusive.
How to Recover from an Abusive Relationship
– Learn how to spot controlling behaviors so you can be clear about what is happening to you.
– Become your own greatest strength and support by beginning to trust your instincts, thoughts, and feelings.
– Surround yourself with those who love and respect you and want the best for you.
You may also want to seek guidance from a trained counselor. They can help you see reality clearly and offer strategies to extract yourself from the relationship so you can begin to heal.
If you read this and had an “oh crap” moment because your relationship or the relationship of someone you love seems to fit into these categories, feel free to reach out to our team at 919-891-0525 today for a free, 15-minute consultation. We would be happy to explore how we may be able to help you. If we are a good fit, appointments may be scheduled for my Wake Forest counseling office or online from anywhere in North Carolina.