Is your relationship harmful? know the signs of emotional abuse

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When people hear the term ‘domestic violence,’ images of vulnerable women who are regularly hit by their male partners most commonly come to mind. Abuse within relationships can present itself in all manner of forms and can be experienced by men and women. It pays to be aware of its different guises. Emotional abuse sneaks into relationships gradually. It damages confidence and self-esteem, giving the abuser more control. If you’ve been feeling uneasy about the state of your relationship and your partner’s behavior, read these signs of abuse and know what to look out for.

Your partner criticizes or humiliates you
There is a difference between offering advice and criticism. A partner who offers advice will provide their input now and then and in a helpful and friendly tone of voice. A critical partner will often be abrupt and react to everything you do. Does you partner frequently complain about the way you do things around the home? Is your partner overly critical of your driving, the way you look after the kids or your opinions? When an abusive partner is frequently critical, they are doing so in order to reduce the self-esteem of their significant other. People who think very little of themselves because they are often told that they do everything wrong are easier to control and less likely to leave their relationship.

Your partner controls money
Whether you work or not, your partner does not have the right to control your money or withhold money from you. By restricting access to money, abusive people are automatically restricting the lifestyle and choices of their partner. If you’re not given the option of withdrawing money to pay for a bus fare, buy what the family needs from the supermarket or buy new clothing when your old clothes have become worn, your partner is deliberately restricting your freedom by withholding cash. This is a deliberate act of control so that your every action can be held accountable.

Your partner is jealous and possessive
Jealously is a natural feeling, but if it dominates your partner’s personality, it will make life unbearable for you. You partner will want to know who’s been sending you SMS messages or emails. Your partner may demand to have access to your social networking accounts so that they can check up on you. They might accuse you of cheating or looking at other men. When you try to calm them down, your partner will become angry, defensive and justify their behavior as a completely normal reaction to your innocuous conduct. You have a right to privacy, and you should not be made to feel guilty by living a completely faithful and normal life.

Your partner keeps you from your friends and family
Without the support of family and friends, people feel isolated and weak. They’ve no one to run thoughts or feelings over with and may develop a skewed perception of who they are. Abusive partners may become irritable or angry when you announce that you are going to see friends. They may try to convince you that your friends and family don’t have your best interests in mind, they’re mean or they don’t want or like your company. When you have been successfully been cut off from family by your abusive partner, you become easier to manipulate and control.

Your partner has threatened to hurt you, family members or pets
You may have convinced yourself that the threats you’ve received from your partner are empty, but there’s no doubt that his or her threats will still have frightened you because the potential for the threats to become reality remains. Abusers use threats to scare their partners into obeying them. Threats work instantly and have a lasting effect. Living in constant fear allows your partner to get their own way and dictate what you do and what you say.

Your partner disregards your feelings
If you become upset or go through a difficult patch, does you partner talk things through and support you or tell you that you’re being stupid? Abusive people show a blatant disregard for their partner’s feelings for a number a reasons. When you know that you will not receive compassion and support when you air your feelings, you’re less likely to open up and be honest in the future. Additionally, when you’re told that your problems are ridiculous or stupid, you may convince yourself that your worries aren’t worries at all and that you’re overacting. Lastly, when you’re persuaded that your fears are silly and bothersome to others, the chances of you discussing the true extent of the emotional abuse within your relationship with friends and family is reduced.

Your partner blames you for the abuse
If your partner appears to occasionally admit that their actions are out of line, does he or she turn the situation on its head and blame you? People who suffer emotional abuse are commonly blamed for their abusive partner’s anger and actions. The abuser will blame you for initiating arguments, causing him or her to throw objects or punch walls. The abusive partner may also use your previous actions to justify the way they control your life, such as, ‘Do you remember the time I told you to be back by ten and you came in at eleven? I’m not giving you the car keys because you’ve caused me to not trust you.’

If the signs of emotional abuse above sound familiar, it’s time to talk to someone about it. Check for domestic abuse support services in your area and talk to family and friends you can trust to be supportive. At all times remember that you are not alone, it’s not your fault and that you will be a happy, confident person again.
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