9 Early Warning Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

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The worst you can expect from your partner is an abusive relationship. Physical abuse is bad and it's apparent when it happens. But emotional abuse in a relationship is a hidden danger and often very painful and devastating. People go through emotional abuse in marriage because they simply do not recognize its signs and symptoms. What are the signs of an abusive man? What are the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse? Get an in-depth understanding of the early warning signs of emotional abuse and learn how to save yourself from getting hurt in this updated post. ~ Ed.

Have you ever gone through an abusive relationship?

If you've then you'll recognize the emotional abuse signs mentioned in this post.

Even if you haven't, I think it's good to know the early signs of an abusive relationship that might help you in your marriage.

The fact is that often times you might not even come to know that you're going through an abusive relationship, and this goes for both, men and women.

Yes, the signs of emotional abuse could be so subtle.

But there are some warning signs of emotional abuse in a relationship that can help you foresee what you're getting into.

Besides, there are things that you too can do to keep away from such abusive relationships.

You'll learn everything in this post.

I've often come across men and women who go through a lot in their relationship, whether it's before or after marriage.

Most of them tend to bear up things, not realizing that sooner or later serious issues will arise in their relationship.

However, the sooner you recognize the signs of emotional abuse, the better.

Before going any further, let's first understand the meaning of emotional abuse, and who is an abuser.

What is Abuse

Generally, to abuse means to exploit, insult, and mistreat.

Specific to a relationship, abuse is the misuse of power that uses trust and dependency, and the bonds of intimacy to make the victim vulnerable.

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse." ~ Edmund Burke

Abuse is experienced in many different ways, and isn't just limited to physical violence. Simply put, it's an attempt to control the behavior of another person.

What is an Abusive Relationship

An abusive relationship can include emotional, mental, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, and also involve control of finances.

  • Physical abuse can include things like punching, hitting, pulling hair, kicking to name a few "“ as sometimes seen in domestic violence besides other relationships.
  • Emotional abuse can be bullying, teasing, and humiliation. Intimidation, threats, putdowns, and betrayals are other forms of it.
  • Mental abuse shows up in the form of mental harassment, mental torture, blaming, and demeaning ways to put the person under stress, and made to suffer from feelings of intellectual incapability and despondency.
  • Verbal abuse involves the use of foul language and calling names that often leads the person to have low self-esteem.
  • Financial abuse occurs when you aren't allowed to keep or use your money, nor have any control over money.
  • Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, and it's mainly being forced into any type of sexual relationship that you don't want.

The quiet but inexorable breaking down of self-esteem is much more sinister "“ it's violation of the soul." ~ Rachel Abbott

What is Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse. It involves malicious manipulation systematically used by the abuser through non-physical acts. It is recognized through various emotional abuse signs and symptoms.

The signs of emotional abuse include intimidation and threats, criticism, name calling, mocking, blaming, shaming, undermining, being made to feel guilty, ignoring or excluding, humiliating, economic abuse, emotional bullying and controlling behavior.

According to Wikipedia, emotional abuse is a form of abuse, characterized by a person subjecting, or exposing, another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Who is an Abuser

An abuser is also a human, but he or she has a complex and destructive problem that no one should underestimate.

Such a person acts deliberately, rather than accidently. His or her behavior is conscious at most times.

The person knows what he or she is doing, though not necessarily the underlying reason why he or she is doing it.

An abuser learns about controlling behavior and manipulation from various sources like peers, roles models, and pervasive cultural messages. On reaching adulthood, his manipulative behavior becomes automatic!

Emotional Abuse in Marriage

Falling in love feels so wonderful that you often forget the potential problems that might occur, let alone entering into an abusive relationship "“ a thought that never crosses anyone's mind.

You fall in love and quickly get married. In marriage, you tend to give yourself up completely to make your partner happy that you forget to see the early signs of an abusive relationship creep up slowly "“ when they do.

During the process, love hurts at times and you also face problems in a marriage. However, an emotionally abusive relationship is a bit different, intense, and serious.

Violence or abuse in a relationship doesn't appear at the beginning of a relationship, but builds slowly over time. The more you give of yourself, sometimes the faster the red flags appear.

Everyone wants love in their lives. No one ever plans or thinks of entering into an abusive relationship, and some of those who do get into one, swear never to enter into another relationship ever again.

You have the right to your own ideas and opinions, to make your own decisions, and to have things go your way at times. Stand up for those rights." ~ Beverly Engel

One of the first early signs of an abusive relationship is your gut feeling that something isn't going right. Sadly though, it often takes nearly five to seven acts of violence before a person leaves the abuser.

Taking the other person for granted, or lack of love from your partner could also lead to an abusive relationship.

It's easier to avoid such a relationship if you are able to detect the initial signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. If your partner is doing any of the below, you may be in an abusive relationship.

9 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship

Be very careful of these warning signs if you are in a relationship because if you experience them, you might just be in an abusive relationship without even knowing about it.

I should mention here that sometimes even normal people show these signs of emotional abuse. However, if these get intense or repetitive, then these may really be the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.

You need to weigh out that from your gut feeling about your partner or the person in relationship with. If you see the signs he will abuse you, you need to take action.

I'm also providing call to action or suggestions that might help you deal with the emotional abuse problems if you're facing them in your life.

Here are the emotional abuse signs and symptoms:

1. Quick Commitment and Involvement

This is one of the earliest signs of emotional abuse. Your partner might come on strong and pressurize you for a commitment before you are really ready for making one. He or she might want more involvement than your present one and force you into it.

Does he or she want your hand in marriage very quickly? Does your partner flatter you a lot more than expected to win you over?

While these might occur in normal cases too, just be careful because these are also the early warning signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.

Words like "You're the love of my life. I've never loved anyone like this before", might pressurize you to make a commitment immediately.

What Should You Do? Take your time and let your partner know that you will weigh out the situation and decide. What's the rush if it's love? Love always takes time to bloom, so keep things going slowly till you are very sure about what you want. Don't commit and give in to the pressure, only to regret later in life.

2. Controlling and Jealous Behavior

Perhaps your partner is of a controlling nature and wants to control how you dress, where you go, what you do "“ is it so?

Or your partner might be calling you constantly and making unexpected visits?

Sometimes your partner might even accuse you of having an affair, flirting, and blaming you for things you haven't done because they are jealous or get sadistic pleasure out of it.

If this happens, then it rings an alarm as these could be the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse.

Jealousy is a negative emotion, and a sign of insecurity and being over possessive. State of being over-jealous could lead to an abusive relationship.

Sometimes the partner tends to think he/she is in control. Or feels he/she should take all the decisions as he/she is normally the one heading the relationship.

It's nice to take a back seat letting your partner take the decisions; though don't let his/her expectations become controlling.

Is your partner a little jealous and tells you of how much he/she loves you and can't see you with anyone, or allow you to be near anyone?

I wouldn't call this love; instead, it's trying to be in control!

When you are in love, your relationship is built on trust, faith, and freedom. This means your partner will trust you wherever you go, or with whomsoever you are. He/she won't stop you from being yourself.

True love always gives freedom. Ensure you don't interpret jealousy as a sign that your partner loves you immensely, or taking control as your partners concern for your protection. Instead, these may be the signs of emotional abuse.

What Should You Do? Learn to say no, and do what you feel like doing "“ including what you feel like wearing! (depending on your culture and society). See your family and friends without second thoughts. There is no person superior than the other in a relationship, so work out your problems and take decisions together. Don't give in to the jealous and controlled pattern of your partner as that might just set a pattern for your future relationship, or you might be expected to do as you're told, if you do it once.

"Trying to make someone fall in love with you is about as pointless as trying to control who you fall in love with." ~ James Earl Jones

3. Possessiveness & Isolation

Do you find your partner always wanting you to talk or be with him/her? Is it that he/she doesn't like you socializing around?

Does your partner take out reasons why it's better to be with him/her, rather than with others? Such people directly or indirectly try to isolate you and keep you for themselves.

I hope you don't follow such a person's possessive behavior and as a result lose contact with your family and friends! That would totally cut you away from them and the rest of the world.

This isn't good as it's one of the signs of emotional abuse. If yours is a healthy and loving relationship, it should thrive in a community where you have your loved ones and friends around you.

What Should you Do? Involve your family and friends, or meet up with other couples and people. Make this a habit from start, so that you know from your partner's reactions if he/she is the kind of person who is possessive and wants to isolate you from others.

4. High Expectations & Humiliation

Does your partner expect you to be the perfect man, or perhaps the perfect woman? Are you expected to meet his/her every need and demand? And if you don't, or make mistakes, you are punished for it?

Perhaps your partner then tends to sulk, withdraw, and use all in his/her hand to put you down to punish you. They do everything to humiliate and make you feel bad about yourself.

He/she might call you names, insult you, bring you shame, and publicly put you down to make you feel powerless.

Don't let anything fool you because these are definitely signs of emotional abuse in a relationship.

Everyone makes mistakes, so set yourself off the hook when you make them too "“ dealing with people becomes easier when they have too many demands from you.

What Should You Do? Set limits to, and challenge the high unrealistic expectation your partner has from you. Don't let them take hold of your life or humiliate you. Start doing this early in your relationship and live with boundaries about what you can accept, and cannot.

5. Oversensitivity

Do you or your partner feel insulted easily? Or perhaps he/she tends to take little setbacks as a personal attack?

Perhaps you feel that anything or everything you say just might upset your partner, so you stop yourself from conveying your feelings.

Does this happen quite often? Then it's a problem and may be one of the signs of emotional abuse played by your partner.

No one is perfect, and you need to remember that there are problems in every relationship. There will be times when you will disappoint and upset your partner, so accept that fact.

What Should You Do? You need to confront your partner and resolves issues in your marriage or relationship, instead of adapting to his hypersensitivity. If you fear talking to your partner and can't convey your feelings because of such a behavior, rethink on your decision to be with such a person. You need a person who is more understanding and doesn't take things so personally or as personal attacks.

6. Mood Swings

Does your partner have mood swings? Is your partner's behavior unpredictable? Does he/she have a short temper? Perhaps your partner has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of personality!

You just don't know what might happen next, when he/she loses temper, or you just don't know what mood he/she is going to be the next minute. All this can often lead to misunderstandings that should be avoided.

Often times, as a partner you might bear with such mood swings and wild temper. You even might try to remain calm and resolve things if possible, but it's not always possible "“ isn't it?

Such frequent behaviors are signs of emotional abuse in a relationship.

What Should You Do? Once your partner shows such traits; you need to set limits on it. It's normal for everyone to get angry once in a while, but going overboard can be dangerous and should be taken as a warning sign of what might happen in your relationship later. Convey to your partner that you won't tolerate such temper, mood swings, and violence. Nip it in the bud as they say, before it gets out of hand.

7. Blame Game

Does your partner tend to blame anything or anyone for the problem he/she faces? Indirectly, he/she blames you for the reason of his/her behavior.

Sometimes people love to play the blame game and say that had you not put them in such a situation, things would have been different.

Or then if you change your way, he/she wouldn't have done what he/she did? Such people keep blaming you for their faults. Doesn't it break your self esteem?

Don't accept this as normal behavior. It is one of those signs of emotional abuse that your partner uses to put you down.

Such people don't take responsibility for their own actions, but prefer blaming others for their life. You might feel you are worthless or there's something wrong with you.

What Should You Do? Take this as one of the early signs of an abusive relationship because he/she will always blame you for whatever goes wrong in his/her even later in life. And if it happens once, it might happen again and again. The blame game continues lifelong if not stopped when it starts.

8. Sexual Demands

If your partner forces you to have sex with him without your will or puts you down for not having it, you need to reconsider things. These are sure shot signs of an abusive man.

He might not reconsider your feelings and emotions, and is only keen to gratify his own sexual needs. Such people don't care about the consequences of how you feel about such an act.

If your partner is successful in forcing his way, then it is physical or sexual abuse. If your partner makes you suffer emotionally as a punishment for not letting have their way, then it's one of those signs of emotional abuse that should raise a red flag for you.

What Should You Do? Say "˜no', when you aren't ready to make love to your partner "“ so no to disrespect. If you are being forced against your will to have sex, then it's time to get out from such a relationship because this IS sexual abuse. Such people seldom change, so don't wait for that time and bear it all up.

9. Past History

How much do you know about your partner's background? Does he/she have a history of abusive relationship?

Or perhaps your partner talks about the past relationships and blames everything and everyone for why things didn't work out.

You need to be careful of such a person because if your partner does have such a background, then you could be next in line. Unless such people undergo counseling, it's rare that they change their ways. Be watchful of the subtle signs of a controlling partner and their emotional abuse signs.

What Should You Do? Don't fall for the talks such people make nor their promises to get better, because their past records are proof that they cannot change. It's a clear sign that such a person can't see his/her own behavior and would land up blaming you for what happens to him/her. Steer away from such a person if you get to know of it before, or try moving out if you know of it later.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." ~ M.Kathleen Casey

Wrapping It Up

There may be more signs and symptoms of emotional abuse but this post gives you a pretty good picture to assess the situation you're in.

Right from the first signs of abusive relationship, do not take any of the red flags lightly. Don't accept mistreatment, disrespect, verbal abuse, or abusive behavior of any kind.

Remember, you aren't the one who is guilty. Instead, by learning these early signs of an emotionally abusive relationship, you can keep away from people who might ruin your life later.

Don't feel ashamed for what's happened, instead, seek help or support. It will boost your self esteem, make you feel empowered, and keep you protected from more abusive attacks.

Lastly, never ignore your conscious and intuition about the way you feel about your partner.

If you feel fearful, in danger, or mistrustful, then rethink as to why you feel this way. Do you really want to continue in such a relationship? The long-term effects of emotional abuse could adversely affect your sense of self-worth.

Remember sadness is always temporary. This, too, shall pass." ~ Chuck T. Falcon

I hope you use these warning signs of an emotionally abusive relationship in your and save yourself from getting hurt.

Over to you "“

Do you know of anyone who has been in an abusive relationship? If it were you, how did you deal with it? What early signs of an emotionally abusive relationship would you warn people to be careful of? Share your experiences and thoughts below in the comments.

This article was first published here.

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About the author

Harleena Singh

Harleena Singh is a positive thinker and a freelance writer. She loves to write inspiring and thought provoking posts on self-improvement, family, relationships, health, and other aspects of life. She's also a blogger, who loves to share her blogging knowledge and experiences.