How to understand you’re being abused and deal with it
The abuse became a hot topic over the past few years. And that’s a great thing. The more freely we can talk about this issue, the more chances we have to determine that we’re being abused. And from that point, we can start dealing with this situation.
With this topic, we start our collaboration with a professional psychologist to provide you with the most correct information. This article is created with the help of a licensed therapist.
There are several types of abuse which means that it’s not always physical. It’s fairly easy to notice that we’re physically abused. But when we’re dealing with some form of emotional abuse, we might remain unaware of it for a long time. Emotional abusers can act subtly, masterfully balancing between episodes of aggression and moments of utter love for their partner.
The main difference between abuse and a healthy conflict lies in the inequality inherent to abusive relationships. It means that one partner is in some way dependent on another partner thus is not equal to them. Abuse happens in romantic relationships more often, but it also can be a part of relationships between parents and children, friends, and co-workers.
Types of abuse
Knowing the forms of abuse helps us recognize it better:
- Physical — an abuser uses physical force trying to get what they want: kicks, hits, slaps, etc.
- Sexual — a victim gets forced to perform sexual actions, is deprived of sex, or manipulated by it.
- Economical — an abuser limits and takes over the money. Often, a victim is not allowed to work.
- Psychological — through manipulations and mental games an abuser tries to reach their goals.
This form is very complex and needs more attention. There are different kinds of psychological abuse:
- Critique and depreciation — when critique is systematic, unwanted, subjective, and it doesn’t offer any ideas on how to improve the situation, it’s abuse. An abuser depreciates the success of their partner, shows aggression and discontent towards them, blames everything on the partner.
- Utter control and ungrounded jealousy — an abuser is trying to limit the life of a victim, controls their appearance, relationships with family and friends, checks their phone, etc.
- Mood swings and coldness — the mood of an abuser changes rapidly and unpredictably regardless of what a victim does. An abuser harms a victim and then acts as if nothing has happened.
- Partial ignore — an abuser can avoid answering uncomfortable questions, act like they don’t understand what the conversation is about, or dive into work thus depriving a victim of attention.
- Gaslighting — it’s a deliberate activity aimed at “driving a person crazy”, deliberate distortion of the reality to make a victim confused. An abuser tries to make a victim believe that they’re inadequate. To achieve this, an abuser uses phrases like, “What’s wrong with you?”, “No, we didn’t agree on that”, “That’s what you wanted”, “Are you starting this again?”, “That’s not what I meant”, “That never happened”.
- Blackmail, manipulations — an abuser induces guilt or shame by playing a victim and accusing a real victim of not providing enough love, understanding, attention, and so on.
- Ghosting a punishment — an abuser uses fear of loss of a victim trying to “teach them a lesson”, tends to disappear, stop returning calls or texts.
Often an abuser uses several forms of abuse. For example, they could exercise a mix of psychological, economical, sexual, and physical abuse. Any form of abuse harms both the physical and mental conditions of a victim.
How to understand you’re being abused
- Regardless of the form, you can detect abuse by several signs:
- You feel physically drained and exhausted, get sick often, develop psychosomatic disorders. Your physical well-being largely depends on your emotional condition.
- An abuser intrudes your personal space, controls your actions, checks your phone, and doesn’t allow you to contact people an abuser doesn’t like.
- You don’t receive enough care and attention from your partner while they have very high expectations of you and demands that you fulfill their desires.
- You are tense and nervous all the time because you don’t know what to expect from your partner and how they will react to your actions.
- Your self-esteem is low, you are not feeling confident. You often have doubts and tend to rely on the opinion of your partner.
Why is abuse so dangerous?
A victim that suffers from an abusive relationship is very afraid of an abuser. A victim receives emotional swings instead of support, care, and safety, and that becomes a display of love. Later, emotional tension can result in a victim getting depressed, developing anxiety and panic attacks, and suffering from other mental issues.
What to do if you realized that you’re a victim?
Usually, it’s not productive to talk to an abuser trying to solve the situation. Such a structure of a relationship is normal for them, and they don’t realize they’re doing something wrong.
The only correct way to fix the situation is to end this relationship.
How to end an abusive relationship?
- You need to realize and accept the situation — then you’re halfway there.
- Don’t try to justify an abuser and stop blaming yourself. It’s an abuser who is responsible for their own actions. For example, you got hit by them not because you should’ve kept your mouth shut but because they’re abusive.
- Determine and keep your personal boundaries.
- Revive old connections disrupted by an abuser, find a job, create your own world that won’t depend on an abuser.
- Don’t allow yourself to be provoked by an abuser and don’t conflict with them.
- Never give an abuser a second chance — they won’t change.
- Find a therapist to deal with this trauma, ask your friends and family for support.
- Let yourself recover.
What if you realized that you’re an abuser?
The most important step is to realize and accept that you’re being abusive, and then decide to change it for good. Usually, it’s extremely difficult to break habitual behaviors and scenarios by yourself. That’s why you will need to seek professional help. You can detect and realize the issue by yourself, but it’s impossible to understand its scale and find effective solutions without professional help.
It is difficult for both an abuser and a victim to realize that something is truly wrong and stop justifying an unhealthy relationship with some personal traits or any other factors. It’s crucial to start working with a therapist as soon as possible to heal the psychological wounds and fix negative behavioral patterns.
Please, leave your thoughts and experience in the comments! We will be delighted to hear from you.