20 FEATURES OF EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS
October 5, 2016
We are all one moment away from meeting the person intent on destroying our life. One moment you are wooed by the charm and attention. And then WHAMFUCKINGBAM you’re in an isolated relationship with a sadistic person and are his/her hobby. No cuts or bruises necessary. Emotional abuse is stealth and torturous and can lead to murder. As C.A. Goldberg, PLLC’s contribution to October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, below are patterns we’ve seen emerge with clients exiting emotionally abusive relationship:
1. Your partner feels that the world is unjust. Your partner fails to recognize that life can be disappointing and always attributes his failures to other forces. Your partner acts as though he/she has been singled out as the bearer of all injustices.
2. Your fault. Your partner blames you for things that have nothing to do with you. Early warnings of this may involve your partner talking with lots and lots of rage about how his/her “crazy ex” ruined his/her life.
3. Life owes your partner something. Because your partner has been so unjustly treated in life, so he/she thinks, he/she feels entitled to break rules and disregard the law.
4. Even the little things are big things. Somebody cutting him/her off on the road can cause him/her to unleash the fury and suddenly you are trapped in a car that’s going 100 MPH.
5. Lies. When he/she describes the past, it is extremely tragic and triumphant. He/she lies about the little things too.
6. Jealousy. Something as small as you smiling at waitstaff can make him/her pout for hours.
7. Actually, delusional jealousy. Your partner is constantly accusing you of cheating on him/her. If you come home late from work, it’s because you were having sex with your boss. If you do not text your partner back within thirty seconds, it’s because you were having sex with his best friend.
8. Gaslighting. Your partner is constantly manipulating history. Your partner claims you are crazy for not remembering certain things that you know did not happen. Or your partner denies things that did actually happen. It makes you feel crazy.
9. Trauma adoption. After confiding in your partner about a past crisis, your partner’s reaction quickly moves from concern and protectiveness to obsession, as if it had happened to him/her.
10. Estranged relationships. Almost every relationship in your partner’s life is tumultuous or estranged. Including with old friends, family members, and colleagues (if he/she has a job). Your partner may be great at making friends, but keeping them? No, because nobody can put up with the drama.
11. A wake of “false reports.” Your partner’s exes have restraining orders, but your partner claims they falsely reported him/her. Your partner also creates sordid narratives about the exes — they are drug addicts, cheaters, mentally ill.
12. Over-the-toppedness. In the beginning, your partner’s affection for you is instant and passionate and you are besieged by extravagant gifts and attention. The relationship gets very serious very quickly. And that pendulum swings from mega-positive attention to extreme hostility and anger.
13. Eggshell walking. You make decisions based on keeping your partner’s anger at bay. You stop doing things you enjoy and seeing people you like because it’s easier not to. If you hang out with your friends, you get accused of being somewhere else, cheating on your partner. If you bring your partner along, you get berated afterwards for not including him in conversation or doing something else offensive. Netflix and Chilling is almost always the easiest option.
14. Sex is on your partner’s terms and your boundaries are not respected or acknowledged. Sex becomes a tool to calm your partner down.
15. Recklessness. With money, with driving, with thrill seeking.
16. Whaaa happened. Every argument leaves you feeling conquered and disoriented. Even if your partner did something to mistreat you, the conversation ends with YOU apologizing.
17. cyber-ugh. Your partner insists on sharing passwords and throws a hissy fit if you try to maintain any privacy, claiming that it means you don’t trust him/her
18. Sextortion. Your partner never lets you forget that he/she has those pictures or keeps that video or knows those secrets.
19. Inventory. Sometimes it seems like your partner keeps a running archive of all the ways you ever mistreated him/her and all the dirt he/she can destroy you with
20. Breakup-phobia. As difficult as the relationship is, you are more fearful of the tsunami that will crash on you if your partner will do if you try to leave. Fear of the unknown is so OMFG.
Listen, we get it. We’re here to help. We can help. This is our beat. Please, be careful.