Signs you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship

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1. Your partner tries to humiliate you


If you’ve been with someone who tries to humiliate or tear you down deliberately, you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship.
Some abusers will go to absurd lengths to embarrass you or attempt to paint you in a bad light with their cruel, empathy-free behaviour.
One narcissist I knew even filmed someone trying to commit suicide and shared it with his friends in an attempt to make his victim suffer the ultimate form of humiliation.
Abusers will do the unthinkable and stand there and mock you so they can feel powerful and in control.


2. Stonewalling and silent treatment


The first motive for using this technique is to invalidate a person as a form of “punishment” for what the abuser perceives as a slight. Silent treatment is implemented at times to prevent or delay a request and to make their victims “pay” for something they may or may not have done.
If the victim tries to assert themselves or set healthy boundaries, the narcissist will implement the technique to get what they want.
The rebuff will feel cruel and leave you feeling especially helpless. It will also very likely be dripping with some form of passive-aggressive, if not aggressive, contempt.
Stonewalling and silent treatment is a powerful form of abuse and a form of gaslighting which has the effect if “crazy-making.”
If you react to this the abuser will then point out to their flying monkeys how “crazy you are” – even though the drove you to that point with their method of abuse.


3. You’re always to blame


You find yourself apologising even when you know you’ve done nothing wrong.
Emotionally abused people often come to believe that they are stupid, inconsiderate or selfish because they have been accused of these things so often by their partner.
It’s never the other person’s fault so it can only be YOU who’s to blame.


4. Gaslighting


Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person – in order to gain more power – makes a victim question their reality.
This is a powerful form of abuse used by narcissistic individuals to make you doubt your own sanity and truth.
Abusers use this weapon as a catalyst to gain control over you and break down your will to fight and resist.
They will use this insidious tactic by purposely denying the truth to you over and over again into make you slowly begin to weaken mentally and to doubt yourself.
You may have seen something or heard something with your own eyes but the narcissist will try to crumble your senses to the point where you are left confused and second-guessing yourself at all times.
Your partner contradicts something they have told you previously, or you suspect you’re not getting the whole picture (about their last relationship or why they left their last job). They may also deny doing or saying something that you clearly remember, but they deny it with such conviction and confidence that you start to doubt yourself. This insidious form of manipulation is called ‘gaslighting’, and it’s designed to make you doubt your mental health.


5. They tell blatant lies


You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the ultimate goal.
Telling blatant lies is a form of abuse because it erodes the self-esteem and sanity of the victim while the narcissist conceals their true emotions, actions and feelings.
They will cheat on you and consistently lie in order to accomplish your ultimate mental breakdown, all the while the remain indifferent or in disagreement with you.


6. They tell you or others that you are crazy


This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The abuser knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.
Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Eventually you will begin to exhibit the behaviours they tell people you have because you have been abused into believing their lies is actually the truth.


7. Your partner withholds affection, sex or money to punish you


Any relationship that has ‘strings attached’ is inherently problematic. The process of withholding affection or emotional or financial support is not always understood as abusive.
Most people equate abusive behavior with the infliction of harm. In this case, it’s the withholding or absence of what a person deserves to experience in a relationship that makes it abusive.
They deny being withdrawn, and you start panicking, trying hard to get back into their good graces.
You are always left feeling neglected by them once the honeymoon period has passed and you are forever blaming yourself for it.


8. Your personality has changed


If you were once an upbeat, confident individual who is now a shadow of yourself, you are probably the victim of emotional abuse.
Abusers will try to break you and change you over time – and most of the time you won’t even realise it until your personality has completely changed.
These people are always about control so they will trick you into becoming the person they want you to be just for the sake of it.
Emotionally abused people often come to believe that they are stupid, inconsiderate or selfish because they have been accused of these things so often by their partner.
You will become worn down and you will feel unable to put up a fight any longer.
They get off on turning someone who is strong, vibrant and successful and turning them into a heap of a mess.
They will brag to their friends about this and tell them how “pathetic” you are when you are looking for answers to why they hurt you so badly.


9.  They have no empathy



If you talk about a problem at work, you’re over-reacting. You are allowed a short time to vent about major upsets, then you are expected to ‘get over it’ (so you can focus your energy and attention once again on your partner and their needs).
Some emotional abusers disappear when you need them most, or become extra critical.
I knew a narcissist who laughed off their partner suffering a miscarriage and stood and watched their suicide attempt without calling for help.
They showed no emotion and are incapable of showing true love or care for another human being.
Sometimes they fake a tear here or there to get their way but eventually, when the mask has slipped, they reveal how cold and cruel they really are.
I once knew a narc who ignored their grief-stricken partner because they wanted them to be happy “100 per cent of the time.”
When the going gets tough, the abuser gets going. They’re only there for the good times.


10. They make you feel worthless



Abusers jump from relationship to relationship within the blink of an eye.
While you are trying to repair the relationship they destroyed, they have already moved onto their new target – but they won’t tell you this.
Narcissists move on swiftly as they are so desperate for their ego to be fed.
The Narc will use his new relationship to abuse you further. The new supply may also be a Narc as well, and if so, she will enjoy abusing you instead of holding the Narc accountable for idealising his ex in an abusive, obsessive way.
Abusers will go out of their way to ensure you know about their new relationship. This could be through social media posts, mutual connections, or even directly contacting you about it. They might even thank you, to tell you how much they appreciated your time together and how much they learned from the break up, to be a better person for their new partner.
Narcissists can never really love anyone. Every relationship they have is transactional, meaning they are always looking into what they can get out of it. Sooner or later, they will suck their partner dry of money, enthusiasm, self-esteem, or all three, and they discard them without looking back.

Styletto Mag is a Scottish online magazine that publishes the latest articles on fashion, beauty, travel, food and relationships. The site was founded in August 2011. Styletto Mag is a sleek, easy to access online magazine which features shopping trends, beauty reviews, funny features, and women's lifestyle articles. To contribute or submit articles, send them to

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