Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse doesn't leave visible evidence. Psychological abuse may not leave visible scars, but often causes deep emotional pain that wears you down over time. While emotional abuse is often subtle, the signs of abuse are recognizable.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse obviously includes name calling and violent statements. The abuse is often harder to detect when it is masked in non-violent statements. For instance, statements such as "I love you, but..." or "If you don't..., I will..." are statements that say your husband's love is conditional, and he isn't afraid to take it away. Other types of emotional abuse include:
<li>Threatening suicide if you leave, or making other threats to convince you to stay in the marriage.</li>
<li>Humiliating you in front of your friends or family members. This includes making jokes about you in front of others and using sarcasm to communicate.</li>
<li>Constant criticism is a form of emotional abuse. Your husband may criticize your parenting, your choice of clothing, the way you cook or how much money you make.</li>
<li>Using the "silent treatment" to win an argument, or refusing to communicate.</li>
<li>Having affairs with other people, or developing a relationship that is harmful to the marriage. For instance, a non-physical online relationship with another woman is often just as devastating to the marriage as a physical relationship.</li>
An extreme form of emotional abuse is manipulating situations in an effort to confuse you or to make you doubt your sanity. For example, if your husband hides your personal belongings and claims you lost them, or claims never had them, you may begin to doubt what you know is true.
Often, emotional abuse begins gradually, and escalates over a period of time. This slow escalation is one of the reasons that emotional abuse is so hard to detect. When you are exposed to constant emotional abuse, your self-confidence, self-esteem and sense of well-being begin to plummet. After a while, you may begin to believe the negative things that your husband is saying.
It's even more difficult to recognize the abuse when your husband tries to help you relieve the anxiety, depression or other symptoms that result from the abuse. Your husband may be well-liked by friends and family, but if even one of your friends notice the abusive behavior, they can help you recognize it. Take the opinions of your close, personal friends seriously if they suggest your husband is emotionally abusive.
If friends or family aren't available, talk to a counselor or other professional if you suspect emotional abuse within your marriage. Seeking help from a professional counselor or therapist is also the most effective way to rebuild your self-esteem and confidence after leaving an emotionally abusive relationship.