Being involved in an emotionally abusive relationship is not only bad for one's self-esteem, it may lead to self-destructive behavior. Red flag warning signs to look for include intimidation tactics or overly dominating behavior by your partner. Feeling belittled or coerced into doing something you're uncomfortable with may also indicate emotional abuse.

Learn to Recognize the Warning Signs

Unfortunately, some victims of emotional abuse go on for a long period of time without realizing the problem. Here are some common signs that may indicate you're involved in an emotionally abusive relationship:

  • An overly possessive partner: Do you feel your partner is too controlling? Does he or she show outright signs of jealousy all too frequently? One sign of an emotionally abusive relationship is when a partner forbids you to see your friends or enjoy outside activities apart from the relationship. Having a partner that dictates who you can see and what you may do is emotionally unhealthy.

  • A partner that doesn't accept you as you are: This often goes hand-in-hand with being controlling. It's a sure sign you're being emotionally abused if your partner does not accept and respect of your beliefs, values or even the way you dress. Attempting to change you into a person you're "expected" to be and constantly being judged is emotionally abusive. Ask yourself if your partner is constantly criticizing your style, your faith or even your taste in music.

  • Being subjected to constant fits of rage and outbursts of temper: Does your partner lose their temper with you without justification on a regular basis? Even without physical force, this could be considered abuse, particularly if it occurs often.

  • Constantly being threatened: Does your partner frequently threaten you in any way? Do you frequently hear, "I'm not giving you any money this week", or "I'm going to walk out on you if you don't do as I say?" Emotional ultimatums are tactics seen in many abusive relationships. 

  • Feeling belittled or humiliated, often in public: This kind of disrespect is indicative of an emotionally abusive partner.

Why is Emotional Abuse Harmful?

Feeling verbally abused, emotionally blackmailed or tied to the proverbial "ball and chain" is obviously bad for one's morale. Some individuals involved in emotionally abusive relationships resort to self-destructive behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse, often due to a lack of self-worth.

If you feel your partner is emotionally abusive, take a step back and reassess the situation. Your options include discussing your concerns and taking a stand with your partner, seeking assistance from a professional counselor, or getting out of the relationship altogether. The decision is yours. If you have other questions or feel that you need help, contact a company like Ottawa Couple & Family Institute to learn more.

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