You cannot see it, you cannot take pictures of it, and for many people they don’t even know its happening. However, the effects of psychological abuse are devastating. Psychological abuse is a thief that robs you of your identity, your self-esteem and your ability to trust yourself. You lose the essence of who you are as person. Even after the ties have been severed it may take years of dedicated work to completely heal.
Psychological abuse is often difficult to identify, here are some signs to look for:
- You are frequently subjected to unwarranted criticism and demands that are not realistic.
- You find it difficult to trust your own judgment, you start questioning yourself and your decisions.
- You find yourself walking on eggshells without being able to identify why.
- Prior to entering a relationship, you are confident, now your confidence is decreasing, you feel less and less like yourself.
- You find yourself riddled with feelings of guilt and shame.
- You find yourself in a state of hypervigilance when your partner is around. You adjust your behavior and your words in an attempt to avoid “setting them off.”
- When your partner is not around you feel as though you can breathe, that a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
- When your partner is around you feel like a shadow of your true self.
- You are inundated with feelings of worthlessness, never doing anything right, guilt, shame, hopelessness and fear.
- When you try to address the concerning behavior you are accused of overreacting or being sensitive.
- You share something very important with the abuser and they respond with dismissiveness (wave you away or ignore you completely).
- The abuser uses manipulation tactics to get you to do what they want.
- The abuser sees you crying and upset yet does nothing.
- The abuser uses the silent treatment and withholds affection as a “punishment.”
Psychological abuse is often talked about in terms of intimate partner relationships. However, it is also prevalent in familial (particularly parent-child relationships) relationships, and friendships.
If you or someone you know have experienced psychological abuse resources are available. National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-799-7233 which can provide referrals for services in all 50 states.