Physical abuse is obvious. There is pain and possibly lasting injuries to remind you of the abuser’s actions. Emotional abuse can be hard for people to cope with in part because it can be so hard to recognize. You may have been in a marriage for years that you thought was healthy, only to have your spouse suddenly make a statement that completely shifts your perspective.
Once you recognize the signs of emotional abuse in a relationship, you may eventually see signs of behavior going back to the earliest stages of your relationship. Still, until those pieces really click into place, it can be hard to tell if your partner is emotionally abusive because no one is objective about their intimate relationships.
While emotional abuse can manifest in many different ways, if you experience any of the three issues below, they are major red flags for an unhealthy dynamic.
1. Your spouse has cut you off from other relationships
Social isolation is one of the most common tactics of abusers. In some cases, attempts at isolation are obvious because one partner openly says they don’t want the other having friends or outside relationships. Other times, abusers are more subtle.
Sometimes, they undermine relationships by creating a narrative that makes other friends or family members seem like they’re the one abusing you. Other times, an abusive partner might just have blow-up fights with you every time you see certain people. You might stop socializing or going to visit your family to prevent those fights from happening.
2. They constantly tear you down or blame you
No one likes to take responsibility for issues, so people do point their fingers at others occasionally. However, if your spouse holds you personally responsible for every issue they encounter in their daily life or if they make their problems your problems, it might be a sign of emotional abuse.
3. They want to control what you think or feel
Gaslighting is a common abuse tactic that involves one person making the other question their sanity or their recollection of events. If your partner constantly tells you that you are crazy or rewrites history and then tells you that you remember things incorrectly, you may be a victim of gaslighting.
Emotional abuse often involves a perpetrator trying to manipulate or control the way their partner and the rest of society perceives them. If your partner insists that you not just act a certain way but also believe certain things or put on certain moods for them, you may be experiencing emotional abuse.
Although it can be hard to move on from emotional abuse, filing for divorce can help you protect yourself. Acknowledging your experience can help you get the courage to leave and connect you with the support required to heal after years of invisible damage inflicted by someone who should have been building you up instead of trying to tear you down.