Mental Abuse in Relationships: What is It and How Can I Overcome It?
For those of us who crave relationships, being in one is where we excel. Having a partner who loves and supports us allows us to reach new heights in all areas of life as we are motivated more than ever. However, sometimes people fall into relationships they think are the dream they’ve always wanted, but they turn out to be more of a nightmare further down the line.
Mental and emotional abuse can be harder for people to recognise than physical abuse as often the victim keeps it to themselves, unaware they are even in a toxic relationship. Over time, the way their partner treats them becomes the new normal, meaning even if they were to escape the relationship, without the right support and knowledge they could face a similar situation again with another partner.
As a mental health expert and human with morals, I want to ensure every client I work with who has faced psychological abuse doesn’t fall into a similar situation again. If you think you may be in a toxic relationship or have escaped one and want to ensure you don’t face another, then please keep reading. I have created a list of top signs of mental abuse and their impact and provided top advice on how to avoid toxic people and mental abuse in the future.
Signs of Mental Abuse
There are many signs of mental abuse, but unfortunately, without being told them, it can often be hard for people who are facing this abuse to recognise them. Instead, they see behaviour which they believe is justified or rational, or they may be afraid to question it. If you feel like you are in a relationship facing mental abuse, or have escaped one in the past and want to be aware of unacceptable behaviour, then keep reading for what to look out for:
If you feel like you are walking on eggshells around your partner, afraid to disappoint them because of how they will react, then this is a sign of mental abuse. You shouldn’t be scared of your partner in any capacity; if you feel like you are, this could be the result of their manipulation and unacceptable behaviour in past incidents.
Similarly, if you find yourself apologising even when you know you are not in the wrong, this could also indicate emotional and mental abuse as you fear your partner. A healthy relationship includes understanding, support and forgiveness, but if you instead feel like you should apologise to avoid an argument or a fight, then you should be worried about this behaviour.
Sometimes, it can even be hurtful comments disguised as jokes which indicate the beginnings of mental abuse. Rather than believing what they say or excusing the behaviour as humour, recognise this is wrong and get out of the relationship early.
A final indicator of mental abuse, you should always be aware of is if your partner withholds affection, sex or even money as a way to punish and control you. You aren’t a pet who has torn up the couch, nor a child who has been naughty and therefore don’t deserve any form of punishment, whether or not you are in the wrong. If your partner starts to punish you for behaviour they deem unsuitable or unacceptable, you need to recognise your worth and leave the relationship.
How to Move On
Mental and emotional abuse can have detrimental effects on a person’s mental health. After being told for so long that they are unworthy, unwanted or unloved, it can be hard to overcome these emotions and realise our self-worth. People can face severe cases of depression, anxiety or even OCD as a result of the abuse they suffered in the relationship. So how can they move on from this and overcome the mental health issues they now face?
One of the first things you should do to try and overcome the effects of mental abuse is to speak to a professional. A therapist understands your situation and mental health more than you know, having worked with many people in similar places as yourself. As an expert in mental health myself, I understand it can be hard to open up about the abuse you have faced, as you often feel ashamed of not escaping the relationship quicker. There is no safer space to speak than in therapy about your experiences and gain the professional and personal help you need to move on.
Furthermore, you need to recognise the qualities of a healthy relationship. This, combined with your new knowledge of the qualities of a toxic relationship, will help you as you move back into the dating realm. If you love to love and want to be in a relationship again, you shouldn’t let your past experiences keep you from this. Instead, just recognise when a relationship is healthy and full of love, and when it is not, and you need to leave as soon as possible.
You also need to have more confidence in yourself once again. A toxic relationship full of mental and emotional abuse can really knock a person’s confidence and make you feel about three inches tall. Rather than letting this be the new you, you need to regain the confidence you had before this relationship and understand how amazing and incredible you are. Find things that make you happy and get you back out in the world again whether that’s a weekly hobby group or sports team, or even just making new friends and spending time with them.
Check out my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can help you overcome the impact mental and emotional abuse has had on your mental health. With my care, guidance and expert knowledge, I can help you understand you are worth more than you have been led to believe and help you establish an understanding of healthy relationships and find happiness in yourself once again.