signs of emotionally abusive relationship
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    Written by:

    Ciru Kamau

    ciru@mtkenyatimes.co.ke Image result for clip art girl love coloured

    Mental abuse commonly referred to as psychological or emotional abuse is a form of abuse that involves exposing or subjecting a person to a behavior that may result in psychological trauma. Because it is so elusive, often the person who is facilitating the abuse and receiving it may not even know they are in an abusive relationship.

    While this form of abuse doesn’t leave physical scars, the emotional scars are real and long lasting. These scars can cause major damage to the person involved in the abuse, lowering that person’s confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. Many people, whether they’re outsiders or maybe the person directly being abused, do not recognize the abusive relationship signs. Over and over again, they’re left to pick up the pieces and usually justify why the abuse is happening. Sometimes the abused are so engulfed within the situation, that they are in denial and do not recognize what is actually taking place.

    Here are seven ways to know you’re in a mentally abusive relationship. If your partner is exhibiting any of these patterns and behaviors, it’s time to walk away and seek out the help you need to heal.


    Mentally abusive relationships are all about control. A mentally abusive partner wants to constantly feel like they are dominating the people they are with and the relationship they are in. You will begin to feel infantilized, feeling like you have to ask for permission to be involved in normal activities. They need to feel like they are manipulating you successfully and this comes through the act of control. Controlling partners will do things like block you in the room while the two of you are arguing until they feel like you understand the irrational point they are trying to make. They also want to control your emotions. They will be all over you if you said you would be somewhere at a certain time and are a minute late, following it up with put downs and accusations.


    Mentally abusive partners are extremely moody all of the time. Even the smallest things you do can cause irritation, not just sometimes but all the time. You often can’t predict what kind of mood they will be in, or what you may have done to upset them, but whatever the circumstances, it always manages to be your fault. Because of their moodiness, you may find yourself being careful with your words in an effort to avoid problems. You never want to upset them. In many cases, this moodiness translates into an abusive relationship because of the emotional aspect.


    If you are in an abusive relationship, it’s important to recognize that mentally abusive partners will often embarrass you, both publicly and privately as a form of dominance and control. This will often involve humiliation –putting you down or making fun of you in front of other people in an effort to make you look bad to others and feel even worse about yourself. They may also use sarcasm or teasing publicly and privately to make you feel bad about yourself. It’s extremely imperative that you identify and take action against this abusive relationship – otherwise, it could take on a life of its own.

    Constant Put Downs

    A mentally abusive partner will regularly insult you –they will make rude remarks and point out your flaws and shortcomings in an effort to humiliate you emotionally. These are not one time putdowns in the heat of an argument either. These will occur regularly, sometimes subtly but mostly overtly. They may putdown your size and weight, your appearance, what you’re wearing, even what you’re saying. If you feel bad about yourself, they think that you won’t be strong enough to go anywhere else. When you’re in a healthy relationship with your partner, they won’t want to pull you down. They will want to uplift you.

    Unreasonable and Uncontrollable Jealousy

    While a little jealousy is normal to most relationships, unreasonable and uncontrollable jealousy isn’t. This form of jealousy really tears at the relationship, causing unnecessary problems and excessive drama. The person receiving the abuse often experiences a series of emotions including anger, depression, frustration and despair, and may feel like they can’t ever make the person they’re with happy. Mentally abusive partners want you to believe they are lashing out because they love you more than anyone else would or could, but this is just another tactic to maintain control. Does this sound familiar? Are you in an abusive relationship or know someone that is?

    Withdrawal of Affection

    Affection is a huge part of any healthy relationship. With mentally abusive partners it can feel like they are constantly turning their love and affection off and on with a switch, depending on what kind of mood they’re in. You may receive the silent treatment. In an abusive relationship, the abuser will withdraw love and affection until they’re through playing with your head, only to end up in the same space when they’re feeling a certain type of way again. They may even show love and affection to another person that you have knowledge of as a form of mental play.


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