“Poisonous relationships can alter our perception. You can spend many years thinking you’re worthless… but you’re not worthless, you’re unappreciated.” – Steve Maraboli
While domestic abuse in any category is unacceptable, one area that is often overlooked is emotional and mental abuse, which is common in toxic relationships, especially when a narcissist is involved.
Sadly, chances are very high that either someone you know and love – or you yourself – are in or have been in an abusive relationship.
People forget that there are many different types of abusive relationships – but it’s important to remember that both mental and physical abuse can be destructive and the scars take a long time to heal.
Did you know that statistically, more women experience emotional abuse than physical violence?
Consider this: More than 1/3 of ALL women who have been married have experienced emotional abuse.
Specifically, 35% of all women who are or have been in married or common-law relationships have experienced emotional abuse, as opposed to the 29% who have been physically assaulted by their male partners, according to Statistics Canada.
The Humiliation Factor: No One Wants to Admit They’re Accepting the Abuse
So, how can you possibly “miss” the fact that you’re being abused?
The problem with abuse is that most relationships don’t begin with abuse. Instead, there are subtle shifts along the way, silent reprogramming until the abuser feels confident that they can control the relationship.
In most cases, by the time the abuse becomes recognizable, the victim has been so brainwashed that she or he (men can also be victims of abusive relationships) doesn’t recognize the actions as abuse and actually takes the blame for his or her predicament.
Victims often can’t be convinced that they’re experiencing abuse. They’re so busy justifying the behavior of the abuser that they don’t see it for what it is.
In many cases, the simple answer is that it’s hard to admit you’ve allowed this to happen. But if you recognize some of the following patterns in your own relationship, it’s quite possible that you are in fact, a victim of abuse.
1. You are isolated, more than you used to be.
- Have you been cut off to some degree from friends or family?
- Does your partner seek to drive a wedge between you and other people you’re close to?
- Does he make you choose between him and others that love you?
These are all signs of the beginning of isolation. An abuser knows that his power over you must be absolute in order to have the true dominance he seeks. Friends and family members are competition – not to mention potential witnesses to the abuser’s bad behavior.
2. You have no control of your money.
Does your partner control the finances? You should be equal partners when it comes to money matters. If your partner holds all of the power financially then he has power over your ability to stay, leave, spend money, and make decisions.
3. You really are “missing” the signs that someone else may consider obvious – maybe because they snuck up on you or because you’re not ready to admit you’re being abused (and who could blame you?).
- Even if you think it’s not a big deal, be honest with yourself – does your partner ever physically hit you, even if it seems innocent?
- Does he/she ever strike at you in anger, verbally or physically?
- Does he/she call you names, put you down?
- Does he/she humiliate, control or make you feel inferior?
These are all signs of abuse at the hands of your partner. Some insults are more subtle than others – as are some of the physical violence against you.
Early signs might include your partner playing too rough and then becoming upset or agitated when you indicate that you’ve had enough.
Please note: If you’re experiencing physical abuse, you have to take immediate action to get yourself to a safe place so you can figure out what to do next. Please, stop reading and start taking action right now. Check out this page for emergency domestic violence resources.
This is by no means every sign or indication that exists for mental or physical abuse in relationships.
Chances are that if you feel you’re being abused – you are! You can always seek advice and guidance at a local women’s shelter or domestic violence center if you suspect you’re being abused and would like help. Or, if you’re NOT experiencing physical abuse, you might benefit from a little support from your favorite online life coach.
Thoughts? Share them, along with your relevant experiences, in the comments below.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.