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  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    How can you tell if your partner is emotionally abusive and what can you do to protect yourself?

    Relationships can be a source of immense happiness and joy, if two people are truly in love. However, the bliss can become quickly overshadowed if your partner is emotionally abusive.

    But, how do you know if your partner is being emotionally abusive? Unfortunately, contrary to physical violence, which is an immediately identifiable form of abuse, emotional abuse is subtle and its signs are often difficult to spot. That is why it is often known as the ‘elephant in the room’.

    Emotional abuse can take many forms—from silent treatment to verbal grave insults. Moreover, where physical violence stops, emotional abuse begins and its effects can last much longer. Typical signs to watch out for are: consistent criticism, belittling, possessiveness, blaming, judging, threatening, ignoring and making a partner feel worthless or bad.

    It is essential to identify psychologically-abusive behaviour early on and to make sure to have the courage to confront it. Some tips that may help protect yourself from emotionally abusive behaviour includes strengthening your self-esteem and setting boundaries.

    Firstly, strengthen your self-esteem and self-worth. An emotionally abusive environment pushes us towards low self-worth that often leads to feeling guilty, inadequate and invisible. It is important to remind yourself of your own value and to remember that no one has the right to make you feel bad about yourself. That does not include your partner. Find activities that nurture your soul and breathe confidence back into your life.

    Secondly, setting boundaries is a must. It means that only you get to determine what is suitable or unacceptable behaviour. If a partner crosses the boundaries that have been set, then it is important to address this with them in an assertive way. For example, clearly explaining why such behaviours are not appropriate, how they make you feel and how you want them to be changed.

    Most importantly, never forget that you should not accept any type of mistreatment—emotional or otherwise. switch off any inner voices telling you otherwise and never justify the predator’s actions, as no abuser is ever the real ‘victim'.

    It is important to note that if your partner is exhibiting behaviour that makes you feel unsafe in any way, even if it is not classified as physical violence (for example, using intimidation or stalking), then it is wise to contact domestic violence helplines such as 1800 RESPECT or a trusted family member or friend.

    Don’t let the elephant in the room silently intimidate you—if you feel like something wrong is happening in your relationship, then it probably is. You deserve to be treasured and treated with respect – anything less, is simply not write and won’t do!

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