Emotionally Abusive Relationships
7 Common Mistakes Victims Make
Emotionally Abusive Relationships … 7 Mistakes Victims Make (2016) — Emotional abuse is the silent killer of relationships and is accepted in the counselling industry as the most common form of abuse – most common and least talked about. Single events of emotional abuse often don’t appear to be severe or dramatic, although its effects can be.
Unlike the more commonly known physical or sexual abuse, where a single incident constitutes abuse, emotional abuse is made up of a cummulative pattern or series of events which occur over time. Emotional abuse originates from a series of repeated events that insults, threatens, isolates, degrades, humiliates, and/or controls another person. It can include: insults, criticisms, aggressive demands or expectations, threats, rejection, neglect, blame, emotional manipulation and control, isolation, punishment, terrorizing, ignoring, or teasing.
Harassment, physical and sexual abuse, and witnessing abuse of others are also forms of emotional abuse.
Emotionally abused men and women often blame themselves for too many of the problems in their emotionally abusive relationships — that is the inevitable consequence domestic violence plays on the mind of it’s victim. When people have been exposed for a prolonged period of time to emotional abuse there is brainwashing effect which erodes the victim’s ability to hear their inner self, and understand what they are properly responsible for in the conflict and what their abuser is responsible for.
Recognizing that both men and women can be victims of emotionally abusive relationships, when a true sense of their inner person has eroded away significantly and blame becomes an accepted response pattern, there are usually two categories under which abuse victims will incorrectly blame themselves. Those two categories include the things which are not their fault, and the things which are not important when it comes to the bigger relational picture.
Things That Are Not The Fault Of An Emotional Abuse Victim:
- Victims in emotionally abusive relationships overtime, with an increasing erosion of a sense of self, often end up blaming themselves believing they are responsible for, or at fault for making such a mess of things causing their partner to explode in anger or bouts of verbal or physical abuse.
- As emotionally abusive relationships fester, emotional abuse victims, often begin to accept the indoctrination of their abuser taking on the false belief that the emotional abuse victim is responsible for spoiling the relationship, when in reality they are the ones who are desperately trying to make it work.
- Verbal abuse is a real dynamic in emotionally abusive relationships, and often the put downs drill into the victim a false belief that they are somehow stupid. “Shut up…don’t be so stupid!” can become lies which a mentally weakened emotional abuse victim begins to believe as truth.
- As years pass, an emotional abuse victim may be accused of aging. A female abuser may accuse a man in his mid-fifties of having erectile dysfunction (more than 55% of men this age struggle with erectile dysfunction) unrealistically demanding the same kind of sexual experience she had experienced when she was 20, refusing to accept that she too has aged, and perhaps not so gracefully.
- They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but an emotional abuser will see beauty as a point of attack often accusing their partner of being ugly. In time as self-esteem erodes, the emotional abuse victim begins to believe he or she is at fault for being ugly.
- In the power and control dynamic heaped upon an emotional abuse victim, there is a desire to diminish the value of the victim in order for the abuser to feel good about themselves. Over time, as resistance is worn down, an emotional abuse victim may incorrectly begin to believe that they are inferior, and simply not good enough as a partner.
- Being a failure in life. It’s so sad how an emotional abuser attacks the psyche of their partner, leaving them to believe mis-truths such as how big a failure they are in life. Emotional abuse victims are not failures, they simply have been in a non-nurturing relationship for a prolonged period of time, which has left them struggling to remember who they really are in life, and what makes them so special.
Non-Important Things That Emotional Abuse Victims Will Believe They Are At Fault For But Are Not Necessarily So
- Personal Weight (Sometimes). Personal weight issues in some people can be caused by poor personal management which can legitimately impact a relationship in a negative manner, while others can be the result of genetics, or health conditions. An emotional abuser may use a partner’s weight as an issue of attack, but when the issue of a partner’s weight is totally out of the emotional abuse victim’s control then if the criticism continues to be repetitive in a derogatory manner, that’s when it becomes a form of abuse. In the case of health and genetic issues, weight is a non-important issue in a relationship. In the case of poor personal dietary management, one should take time to discover what lies at the root of that issue.
- The past mistakes of the emotionally abused person. An abuser will often try to throw into the face of their victim sharp painful ridiculing reminders of past failures. In a relationship the past is past and is a non-important issue.
- Their faith. Emotional abusers will often try to make a mockery out of their vitims faith. A personal belief is just that…personal.
- Their education. There is absolutely no educational level required for a healthy relationship to exist, and yet, some abusive partners will accuse and emotionally abuse their partner’s for not having, in the eyes of the abuser, adequate education.
- Their family tree. An abusive partner is not responsible for his or her family of origin.
The mistakes that many emotional abuse victims actually do make (and we all make mistakes) have little to nothing to do with the alleged transgressions for which their partners verbally attack them.
7 Most Common Mistakes Made By Emotional Abuse Victims
1) Ignoring Early Relational Red Flags – Such as turning a blind eye to his or her pattern of over-reactive temper tantrums. The emotional abuse victim’s silence on this issue is often seen as acceptance by the abuser, and the victim is weak.
2) The Emotionally Abused Party Will Believe They Are Doing Something Wrong And Try Over And Over Again To Fix It – Repeatedly seeking counselling in an attempt to make a marriage work when the other party doesn’t participate in the counselling is one way an emotionally abused partner will try to make an abusive relationship work. When an abuser, through their relational pattern demonstrates they are no longer trying to build the relationship then the relationship is over and there’s nothing left to hold onto.
3) Trying To Cover Up Your Own Pain By Making Excuses For Your Abuser’s Mis-conduct – Public embarrassment is very real for victims of emotional abuse, and when people begin to wonder as to what is going on in the relationship, it’s often easy to make up excuses for the abuser’s actions than embrace the embarrassment of admitting one is in an abusive relationship. When an abuser sees this form of behavior in their partner, they accept it as an opportunity to carry on in their abusive pattern.
4) Improperly Feeling Responsible For His Or Her Abusive Patterns — Escaping an abusive relationship is never easy, and believe it or not, an abusive partner expects their partner to try to leave so contingency plans have been created by the abuser for such an event. Apologies from the abuser begin to flow, but they are never followed by any form of corrective change and the cycle of abuse continues to flow in full circle.
5) When Emotionally Abused Partners Begin To Minimize Their Abusive Partner’s Actions – There is one foundational understanding that emotional abuse victims struggle to arrive at – abuse is abuse is abuse is abuse! When we begin to minimize, and downplay the poor behavior of others that’s when we announce to the world, “Hey, there’s a sign on my back which says KICK ME!” Abusive behaviour is abuse…don’t accept it for anything less.
6) When The Emotionally Abused Partner Tries to Publicly Cover Up The Abuse In The Relationship – You know you’re in a failing/abusive relationship, and maybe no one else sees evidence of it, so you make the decision to put on a brave face and pretend all is well. When an emotional abuse victim does this, the abusive party sees this as permission to carry on, because his or her punching bag clearly hasn’t reached their limit yet.
7) Fantasizing Instead Of Embracing Reality – We all have a tendency to put on rose colored glasses from time to time, and most of us try to look at life as optimistically as possible, but there comes a time when some emotional abuse victims deliberately decide to turn a blind eye to the problems in their relationship and fantasize about how things are getting better. Reality isn’t always easy to face, but face it we must.
Emotionally Abusive Relationships — 7 Common Mistakes Victims Make
The real mistake most men and women, who are victims in an abusive relationship make has very little to do with their own imperfections, challenges in how they choose to relate to someone else, but has everything to do with their inability to be honest with themselves in getting real and admitting they are in an abusive relationship and need to get out. Often, abusive people are all about being too willing to carry on believing someone will change for the better if only they hang in their long enough. Sorry, but it’s time to move on.
Emotionally abusive relationships do exist and this is a very real form of abuse. Once a person realizes they are in an emotionally abusive relationship, they need to get out before it becomes a physically abusive relationship.
Author — James C. Tanner