Books and movies from “Twilight” to “50 Shades of Grey” teach society to buy into the idea that dependent and harmful relationships are the epitome of love. Because of these complicated versions of romance, it can be challenging for people to recognize emotional abuse.
However, anything that causes the victim to feel degraded, guilty, invalidated or humiliated may be a result of emotional abuse. While this list does not include every form of emotional abuse, nor indicate a partner is abusive, the following list may help you evaluate whether your relationship is suffering from emotional abuse.
“Get over it”
Rather than validating feelings, this phrase implies that the person who needs to “get over it” is overreacting. This is a form of gaslighting_a type of abuse where the abuser makes the victim feel like they are crazy.
You are entitled to your feelings and to express them. Your partner should not disregard them.
“You don’t need to know”
Communication in an exclusive relationship is definitely on a need to know basis—meaning, if you feel you have a need to know you should know. Your partner shouldn’t define that for you because, really, healthy relationships are not built on secrets.
“I love you, but …”
If your partner expresses love to you but tacks on a caveat, they don’t really love you. Rather than building you up as expression of love should, it decreases your self-esteem, leading you to believe that your abuser is the only person who could “put up’ with you.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about”
Another form of gaslighting, this form of abuse makes it seem like you don’t what you are talking about. Someone who loves you will try to your point of view instead of disregarding it.
“It’s for your own good”
Abusers may try to make you feel as though they’re trying to help you. However, what they’re doing is really for their own good. It also places the abuser in the place of authority, which can make the victim feel dependent on the abuser.
“Your problem is …”
This phrase masquerades as constructive criticism, alerting you to your issues so that you can improve. However, abusers use this phrase repeatedly to destroy the victim’s self-esteem by making hyper-aware of their flaws.
“It’s your fault”
While at times you need to accept responsibility for your actions, you shouldn’t feel persistently guilty. No matter what, your partner is responsible for his or her own actions. You are not the cause of their actions. They should not make you feel guilty for things that they did.