ABUSE, because of what society has taught, has long been associated only with the physical. But while there might not be scars to tell the painful story, many women struggle to cope with relationships poisoned by emotional abuse — an equally traumatic experience wherein women are controlled, manipulated, coerced into uncomfortable situations, humiliated and intimidated.
“'He does not hit me, but he hurts me'” is but one of the statements from women who are not abused physically, as the abuser has never lifted a hand to inflict pain or injury on them, but he has caused emotional and psychological damage by verbal and non-verbal communication/action,” says relationship counsellor Wayne Powell.
The quote is just one utterance from many women which pokes gaping holes into the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”.
“Emotional abuse can cause lifetime damage to the individual, as a continuous diet of negativity will certainly erode your self-esteem, driving you into a state of depression. Whereas a cut will heal over time, an emotional wound may never heal, especially if the individual is not helped. Unfortunately, some people suffer through this for years, because this kind of treatment for extended periods can be quite difficult for them to even notice,” Powell explained.
Should you be in doubt, however, Powell shares below some signs that it may be time to cut your losses and walk away:
He refuses to listen to you and shoots down every suggestion you make
He doesn't value your opinion and points this out in no uncertain terms. In fact, even if he does listen, he makes sure that you feel like an idiot for making the suggestion in the first place. This he does even in the presence of others to ensure that you feel humiliated.
He never pays you a compliment and looks for every opportunity to put you down
Nothing you ever do is ever good enough: you never look nice enough, and you simply can't do anything right in his eyes. And while he doesn't pay you a compliment on anything, he will try to strong-arm other people into agreeing that the dinner you made wasn't that good, or your dress is not cute because it's too short. Such people can be very petty.
He always compares you
You always seem to rub him wrong because nothing you ever do is on par with what his co-worker or former girlfriend does/did. In fact, he makes it his duty to cast you constantly in a negative light.
He seeks to sink you into a state of dependency
Emotional abusers crave power. One way to establish this is to make sure that you don't earn, and even if you do he takes it away from you. He wants you to know that you are powerless by controlling all the finances. He even makes sure you have to ask permission to get money for very personal items.
He makes life-changing decisions without consulting you
He will make decisions without your knowledge, without speaking with you, so you have no way of influencing the outcome. And even though you have no control over these situations, when they backfire he blames you for the negative outcomes.
He sees sex as an obligation
You are a sex object to him and whenever he wants you he can have you. No matter how sick, sad or angry you are, or how drunk, dirty or smelly he is, he expects that you must satisfy his sexual demands.
He drives fear into you and makes you feel doubtful about your future
He makes you feel worthless, and that your success can only be achieved through him. He makes you feel incapable of achieving anything at all, and discourages you from even trying in the first place. That way he can continue controlling you by driving a wedge between you and your personal development.
He wants you to design your whole existence around his world
He is the centre of the universe and your universe. This means that all your actions and reactions should also have his interests and feelings at the forefront. If you dare deviate from this, he will compel you to feel otherwise.