Are your relationships abusive?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Kimberley Howard BSc (Hons) MBACP - Hope Counselling & Psychotherapy
3rd June, 20140 Comments
When people hear the word abuse most imagine physical violence. However many deny, excuse, or choose to overlook psychological abuse.
The bottom line is that abuse does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone, and abusive behaviour in any form is never acceptable; whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a young person, or an older adult.
There are many signs of an abusive relationship; however the most telling sign is fear. If you fear the person who you should be closest to, your relationship is unhealthy.
Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a relationship with a person who belittles you or tries to control you; leaving you with feelings of anxiety, self-loathing, helplessness and desperation.
Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse, financial control, dominance, humiliation, isolation, intimidation, denial and blame. All of these behaviours have the goal of controlling another. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if they do not get what they want.
An abuser can often try and confuse their victim, by appearing to the outside world as calm, caring and charming and can even sometimes fool others into believing they are the victim and not the persecutor. Therefore the true victim often feels a further rejection, not only by the abuser, but also by friends and family. All abusers need to feel in control, and often play mind games or manipulate situations to do so; sometimes playing the victim to win concern from others, giving them feelings of more control over those around them.
Often psychological abuse is not seen by the outside world, and it is the silence that makes it the most dangerous.
A true victim will often withdraw, change in character, see things in a negative light, will limit contact with friends and family, and generally stop functioning on all levels as the mind games take over their life.
It is abuse to neglect or ignore another person’s needs emotionally and make them feel worthless and depressed; this will cause long term damage that in many cases can lead to the victim’s physical health being harmed.
People might not consider the ‘silent treatment’ a form of abuse, but if sustained in a relationship, it can cause serious harm. To ignore someone regularly means to punish and control them as a form of payback, creating a feeling of not being seen, heard, relevant or cared for. Often the victim can try desperately in a vain bid to restore communication and to get away from the negative feelings that have been inflicted; this gives the abuser more control and creates a substantial power imbalance in the relationship. Often victims can’t take anymore silence, back down, beg for forgiveness and take on blame.
Overtime the chipping away of empowerment, self-worth and independence from psychological abuse can lead to depression, self-harming or suicide.
Often there are reasons behind the abusers behaviour, however regardless of circumstances, abuse is abuse and needs to be addressed by either the abuser entering therapy, or for the victim to leave the situation.
Professional help is available if you feel you, or if anyone you know is in an abusive relationship.
You deserve to feel valued, respected and safe.
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