Am I Being Emotionally Abused? 17 Tactics Abusers Use to Control You
Am I Being Emotionally Abused? 18 Tactics Abusers Use to Control You
In February of 2017, I walked away from my eight-year marriage. Broken and devastated, I embarked on a journey of healing and self-discovery. The day I left I took nothing with me. NOTHING. Only my children and what was left of my life. I remember feeling so confused and angry. I wondered how I ended up in such a terrible situation and was compelled to tenaciously search for answers. You see, when I left I didn’t realize I had been abused. I only knew something was terribly wrong and it was either kill myself or leave. I told myself I wasn’t going to spend another birthday, Christmas, or anniversary feeling unloved or rejected.
So I began my search for answers on YouTube and Pinterest, and I was lead to the truth of my painful reality so that I could find closure. And just like me, you were lead to this article for a reason. You are searching for answers. Whether you are here for yourself or a loved one, I know that this information will help you piece together the broken pieces of your life.
No, you’re NOT crazy
If you feel confused, overwhelmed, trapped, worthless, hopeless, helpless, depressed, anxious, and unhappy... If you have you tried everything you can think of to fix your relationship but it’s just not working... If you lie awake at night wondering why you feel so terrible, but then convince yourself that everything is fine, it’s going to get better if you just keep going... THEN YOU ARE PROBABLY BEING EMOTIONALLY ABUSED. The truth is, you suspect something is terribly wrong, but you can’t seem to figure out what it is. I want you to know, your feelings are real, you are not crazy, your suspicions are true… you are being emotionally abused.
What is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse is repeated behavior that one partner uses to control the other. Emotional abuse is covert and slowly diminishes the victims sense of self, self-worth, self-esteem, and self-awareness. The true self is gone and only a shell remains. The abuser uses tactics such as intimidation, fear, and manipulation to gain and maintain control over their victim. Often, the abuser gains their victims trust with kindness, affection, and love to groom them for control and manipulation.
He was so good to you in the beginning, wasn’t he?
You didn’t marry a monster; I know I didn’t. I married a funny, charismatic, sexy, dreamboat who made me feel alive, accepted, and loved. And that’s the point, right? Abusers show you everything you want to see to hook you, then their true intentions are revealed. So let’s take a look at how this works… How do abusers control you?
What tactics does the abuser use to control me?
1. Threats: Threatening to leave you, take your children away, or cheat
2. Criticism: Questioning your decisions, shaming, teasing/ belittling
3. Future Faking: Your partner paints a beautiful picture of the “future” you will have together. They are always making amazing plans… but this beautiful future will NEVER happen. This tactic is used to keep you hooked into the relationship. You truly believe things will get better, but they never do… you are just left with an empty dream. And your actual reality is filled with pain, lies, and confusion.
4. Spiritual Abuse: This occurs when the abuser twists biblical principles or laws to control you. For example: Using 1 Corinthians 7:5 which says, “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations” to coerce you to having sex. And then telling you it’s a sin or that you’re out of God’s will if you don’t.
5. Gaslighting: Twisting reality to invalidate your feelings and thoughts causing you to doubt your perception, memory, and sanity. Example: you tell them a story and they convince you it didn’t happen that way.
6. The Silent Treatment: This is a form of punishment designed to emotionally break you. Most often, you find yourself apologizing and/or conceding just to restore peace or a sense of normalcy.
7. Projection: The abuser puts their feelings, thoughts, and experiences on you. Causing you to think you’re the one who has these feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Example: accusing you of being jealous of a friend when they are actually the one who is jealous.
8. Switching: When you confront the abuser with their bad behavior, somehow, they turn it around to make it your fault.
9. Jealousy: The abuser punishes you and diminishes your self-esteem by treating everyone else better than you.
10. Isolation: Physically and/or emotionally separating you from your loved ones and your support system
11. Smear Campaign: Telling lies about you to anyone who will listen to convince them that you’re the “bad guy” in the relationship. They do this to ruin your relationships, opportunities, and reputation.
12. Anger/Rage: Explodes into rage suddenly without cause. This is used to manipulate you into silence or compliance.
13. Rejection: Making you feel unwanted, unloved, and unimportant.
14. Withholding: This is a form of manipulation that makes you feel desperate and keeps the abuser in control. The abuser will withhold sex, affection, attention, and even information to maintain control.
15. Sabotage: The abuser can’t handle you having any kind of success, growth, or happiness. Example: They have an emotional outburst or cause an argument right before an important meeting or interview to keep you from moving forward in life.
16. Guilt: Makes a big fuss if you take time for yourself, or the opposite, act as if they don’t care at all about what you do. Either way, you feel unsupported and are likely not to repeat the behavior again.
17. Financial Abuse: Has complete control over finances and denies you access to financial information. (This is especially common for stay-at-home moms)
18. ...And many more
How could I let this happen?
Emotional abuse is covert, it’s subtle, so you may not realize you are being abused. Also, you were groomed. Abusers often seek out people who they believe are easy to control. Perhaps you had loose boundaries, low self-esteem, or trust issues. Once the abuser chooses you they begin slowly violating your boundaries and manipulating you to gain control. After a while, your abuser doesn’t need to hit you, the emotional abuse is so effective at controlling, that you aren’t going ANYWHERE, you aren’t questioning ANYTHING, and you begin to believe the abuse is NORMAL. And this is how I felt. It was so covert, I didn’t even realize I was being abused. I truly believed that everything was my fault and that if I could change, if I prayed enough, if I kept searching… I would find a way to fix our marriage. But there is no happy ending because emotional abuse causes you to question your thoughts, memories, and decisions. If the abuse continues, you lose the ability to trust yourself altogether. The person you were is gone. You become an empty shell who is completely dependent on the abuser… which is exactly what they want.
My suspicions are correct… I am being emotionally abused. Now what?
If you are being emotionally abused you have to stop the abuse by separating yourself from the abuser. Research suggests that unless the abuser seeks intensive therapy, they CANNOT stop. They CANNOT stop themselves from abusing you. You must leave because you can't heal if you’re continuing to be abused. Abuse is like cancer, once it's there it continuously invades healthy tissue until there's nothing left. The only way to get rid of it is to cut it out. Once it's out, you can begin to heal. And you need to heal so you can save your children, reconnect with yourself, discover your purpose, Luv to Be You, and create a beautiful Life After.
I want you to know…
That you matter; you are worth saving. At one point, I was so low that I believed my life didn’t matter and that my children and family would be better off without me, and that wasn’t true for me and it’s not true for you. If you feel trapped, depressed, or helpless don’t give up on yourself. If you are in the U.S. call The Nation Suicide Prevention Hotline and seek help at 1-800-273-8255 immediately. You matter, and you are not alone.
I left my abusive relationship, how I begin to heal?
To put it simply, the healing process can be broken down into two parts: 1. Eliminating broken patterns that don’t work and 2. replacing them with new patterns that do. I recommend starting with self-awareness techniques which can help you identify what needs to be eliminated. After that, begin to envision the life you want for yourself. Envision how you want to feel every day, where you want to live, and how you want to spend your time. Once you’ve identified what will make you happy then you can start pursuing it. But keep in mind that happiness isn’t achieved through outside sources, it’s only found within. Also, you may benefit from one on one support through my Life Coaching Service called Luv to Be You. I will show you how to heal, reconnect with yourself, and create the life you want... a life where you Luv to Be You.
You need support
If you decide to leave you will need support from someone who understands. Unfortunately, friends and family won't understand what you are going through and usually have a tough time recognizing and accepting that you were abused. They may even side with your abuser at first. Because I know this, I want to support you. I know what you are going through and have made it to the other side. I know what you need and how to help you. I have created a Facebook Support Group called Beautiful Life After which will provide life changing information and resources for women and their children who have escaped emotionally abusive relationships. I have also made myself available to help you create an exit strategy, heal, and create a new life once you've left. Visit my website LuvToBeYou.com to discover how I can help you heal and feel like yourself again. My goal is to help you create a Beautiful Life After.