(WellnessPursuits.com) – When most people think of abuse, they think of physical abuse. A person who slaps their spouse, for example, or someone who beats their children is a sign of abuse that’s easy to recognize. But a lot of abuse is mental and emotional, and it can be just as devastating as the physical. Here are some important ways to tell if you’re being emotionally or mentally abused.
1. You Keep Getting a Guilt Trip
A common form of what’s often called “silent abuse” is the guilt trip. It happens when a partner, friend, family member, or another person in life manipulates someone into doing — or not doing — something in an effort to control them. The person complies because they don’t want to hurt their partner or cause a problem, and they’re made to feel guilty if they don’t agree with what the manipulator wants. That can happen with anyone occasionally, but if it’s a pattern, you might be abused.
2. Your Partner Makes “Jokes” That Hurt You
Jokes should be funny, not painful, humiliating, or degrading. It’s expected that a joke will fall flat every now and then, but that’s not the same thing as “jokes” that are designed to hurt another person. Being teased about things like intelligence, clothing, a career, weight, or hobbies can really shake a person’s self-esteem. A partner or friend should see that those things are hurtful and stop doing them. If they don’t, their continued “jokes” could cross into the realm of emotional or mental abuse.
3. You’re Ignored When You Try to Talk
There are few things that make a person feel worse than being ignored when they have something they want to share with someone they care about. Even if their partner doesn’t share their interests, being a good listener and showing compassion and enthusiasm for something that matters to that partner is a valuable part of any good relationship. When the person trying to share is constantly ignored or overlooked, it can feel dismissive and keep them from feeling close to their partner anymore. They may also stop reaching out, which could spell the beginning of the end.
4. You Are Purposefully Being Excluded
When a partner, friend, or other person interacts by giving the “cold shoulder” or excluding someone due to a disagreement, it’s a form of manipulation. It can become abusive and is one of the worst types of abuse based on how it makes the person experiencing it feel about themselves and their relationship.
Stonewalling is another popular tactic that’s used this way, and it keeps the person being abused feeling off-balance and confused about how to be on the abuser’s “good side.” When someone is using stonewalling, they “shut down” and stop interacting with the other person. It can make the person who’s being abused feel like they’re talking to a “stone wall,” which is where the term comes from. Putting up emotional walls that prevent open communication and the sharing of feelings can potentially be abusive.
5. “You’re Too Sensitive” is Something You Hear Frequently
Everyone has different levels of sensitivity, and some people are much more bothered by certain things than other people would be. If a partner isn’t making any effort to understand sensitivity levels and would rather accuse and dismiss them instead, they might be emotionally or mentally abusive. Often, the “too sensitive” comment will be the go-to phrase anytime the partner experiencing the abuse tries to discuss how they’re being treated by the other partner. They’re led to believe it’s all in their head or, worse yet, all their fault.
6. You Feel Low Around Your Partner, But It’s Hard to Say Why
Sometimes it’s hard to say why a partner’s energy and influence in life just doesn’t feel good. Things may seem fine on the surface, but deep down they really aren’t all right. Anyone who’s making a partner, friend, or another person in their life feel small, stupid, weak, insecure, or a similar way could be emotionally and mentally abusing that person. If being around that person just feels wrong, it’s probably wrong.
It Can Happen to Anyone
While it’s more common for women to be emotionally or mentally abused, it does happen to men, as well. No one is immune, and it’s also important to remember that it doesn’t have to occur only in romantic relationships. It can also happen in family dynamics, friend groups, and situations with co-workers.
What to Do If You’re Experiencing Abuse
If you feel like you’re being mentally or emotionally abused, it’s important to consider leaving the situation or the relationship, seeking counseling and surrounding yourself with people who are healthy for your self-esteem and future growth.
It’s also important to be aware that emotional or mental abuse can also be a gateway to physical abuse. Regardless of what type of abuse you’re experiencing, there are a number of support services available. Consider reaching out to a Crisis Counselor at the Crisis Text Line by texting “Hello” to 741741. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233 or by texting “LOVEIS” to 22522. If you find yourself in physical danger, it might be necessary to call 911.
Emotional and mental abuse can be more difficult to recognize than physical abuse, so it’s important to know the signs. Remember that, regardless of what your abuser has led you to believe, you deserve to be treated well — and no one deserves to be abused.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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