It doesn’t come in the form of physical damage, no broken bones or scars and bruises, no furniture or fists thrown, no damage done externally. Internally, however, you are battered and bruised from every corner. It’s not the physical harm that is considered the abuse but the words, words that can cut you like a knife and leave you feeling helpless, knocked down, scared, hurt, and even stupid. You are hearing the words from someone that is tearing you down to build themselves up because, in their mind, that makes them feel more empowered and keeps you controlled and confined.
It’s called emotional abuse or mental abuse or psychological abuse. It is a form of abuse where a person is subjected to psychological trauma in an attempt to control that person. This results in anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Constant verbal attacks wears down the subconscious and you as the attacked feel hopeless and worthless. Your emotions are wrapped into the words that are being hurled at you because they have, in a lot of ways, hit a nerve. What can you do at that point? What do you say? You listen to the words that are being said and absorb them, sometimes you even begin believing what the person is attacking you for. You are blamed and shamed, nit-picked and nagged. All these things are constants of abuse.
I have been in an emotionally abusive relationship at one time or another. One relationship lasted roughly 3 years. The first year was the hardest. It wasn’t breaking up and back and forth normal arguments that you go through in relationships. I was criticized for what I wore, how I drove, how I spent my money, the type of friends I had, not addressing him properly, disagreeing about a movie, forgetting things he told me. I was also blamed and shamed for never having owned a house or property, not having enough life experiences (he was older), and being the cause for all the fights that we’ve had and him stepping out. Yes, I was blamed for him stepping out of our relationship. I suffered several anxiety attacks and nervous breakdowns over this relationship. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. The mental manipulation was routine so I walked on egg shells whenever I had to talk to him. I couldn’t talk to anyone either. No one would truly understand what I was going through and it was hard to say, “yeah, I’m being emotionally abused in my relationship. He doesn’t hit me he just hurts my feelings”. That’s hard to even say or recognize; that I was in a relationship where I was being controlled and manipulated, more serious than just “hurting” my feelings. I was cursed at and talked down to viciously. Why would someone stay in a relationship like that? Love shouldn’t be the only reason but sadly it was. I wanted him to love me as much as I loved him. I guess. But at what cost? A severe mental breakdown?
To get through it, I had to get into the mind of him, try to understand what it was that would set him off. I found out he was insecure and jealous. He never opened up about those feelings but he mentioned he had to control his jealous tendencies. He was also in a previous relationship with someone where he had to call call off the engagement due to infidelity on her part. He had trust issues. He was a worrier. He was also someone that needed to be constantly uplifted. I tried to play the part. I did all the things that I needed to in dealing with an emotionally abusive person. I realized I was fighting a losing battle and fighting for my sanity. I wondered whether I was doing all of these things to stay in the relationship or heal myself and understand the warning signs so that I would not have to worry about being in a relationship like that again. Now, just to be clear, that relationship ended but I learned a valuable lesson from it. There’s a blessing in every lesson, they say.
Abuse in any form is never ok. If you’ve gone through it you have to understand what signs to look for in order to stay away from. You can never fully heal or become truly happy with yourself by becoming complacent and giving a pass to someone that treats you below your worth. You are a valuable treasure that deserves the type of love that will not hurt but blossom and make you feel butterflies. Be mindful, be conscious and be wise about your decisions.