No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your relationship is abusive. These types of emotionally abusive behaviors are meant to control and frighten you. While they are nonphysical, they are just as serious. Emotional abuse can be damaging and traumatizing to the person experiencing the abuse.

Remember that there was a life before your current partner and there can be one after, no matter what your age, gender or how many kids you do or don’t have. Life should be enriching, for you and those around you. You deserve so much more than you currently have emotionally.

What is dating violence?

This tactic involves attempts to reconnect, or pull you back into a toxic or abusive relationship. Our support systems — be they family or friends — are incredibly important. They’re a sounding board for us to talk through our fears and thoughts. “Gaslighting is aimed to make a person doubt their own thoughts and feelings,” says Crawford, as well as doubt their own perception of reality. This is something that Lizbeth Meredith, a domestic violence advocate and author, knows firsthand.

Emotional abuse: ‘My fiance seemed perfect – but he wanted to control me’

We talked about our future and children and everything just felt natural and wonderful and right. The arguments began about two months into our relationship. Everything had been so perfect up to then, it was completely unexpected. But suddenly it seemed as though if I was in a good mood, or things were good between us, he would instigate a fight – two or three times a week. It was really horrible and draining, and to begin with I was in shock.

Exiting an abusive situation is possible and healing can be achieved. You’re not alone, and you deserve to start your path toward respect and care. You can explore coping strategies and learn how to set boundaries. Setting boundaries can protect your mental health and help you make the right decisions for yourself. If you feel you may be experiencing abuse in your relationship, support is available. When you feel as though you’ve let someone down, you’re not good enough, or you’re a disappointment, you may change your behavior to avoid that feeling in the future.

Firmly tell the verbally abusive person that they may no longer criticize, judge or shame you, name-call, threaten you, and so on. Then, tell them what will happen if they continue this abusive behavior. It is not uncommon for a person who is verbally abused to feel inadequate, stupid, and worthless. They are explicitly told they are these things by the person abusing them. While not an exhaustive list, these are several examples of the common types of verbal abuse that can occur.

How to Recover from Financial Abuse

When you’ve been let down in the past, it can take courage and vulnerability to trust that another person won’t hurt you again on purpose. If emotional distance was used as a manipulation tactic, you might feel high levels of stress or abandonment anxiety in your relationships. This could manifest as a behavior sometimes labeled “clinginess” that’s often rooted in a deep fear of losing your support system.

Jealousy is the only naturally occurring emotion that can cause psychosis, which is the inability to tell what is really happening from what is in your head. Most severe violence in relationships involves some form of jealousy. Sarcastic people tend to be heavy into impression management, always trying to sound smart or witty. Their tone always has at least a subtle put-down in it. Blamers can be dangerous to love because they usually suffer from victim identity. Feeling like victims, they see themselves as justified in whatever retaliation they enact and whatever compensation they take.

McNelis says the best thing you can do is listen and hold space for your loved one. To help victims understand the signs, we spoke with Kelly McNelis, founder of Women for One, and Dr. Sherry Benton, founder and chief science officer of TAO Connect. As a result, emotional abuse can be just as damaging. Plus, advice on how to leave and recover from an unhealthy situation. Domestic Violence and the LGBTQ Community – The unique problems victims of same-sex abuse face, and how to get help.

And honestly, in a healthy relationship, it shouldn’t be that you couldn’t live without each other — it should be that you prefer not to. “Emotional abusers do not have boundaries because they are just too insecure,” Richmond tells Allure. Passion in a relationship should mean intimacy, laughter, and warmth inside your chest from your partner’s love and your love for them. Whatever movies and TV shows would have you believe, passion should not include unpredictable outbursts.

It’s impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some telltale signs of emotional abuse and domestic violence. If you witness these warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously. Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and domestic violence. Furthermore, people whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.

Millions of men and women have been abused by their partners in their lifetimes, and abusers can be hard to spot before it’s too late. If you are stuck in a cycle of abuse, the best thing you can do is seek out help. That includes people who are married, dating, in a “friends with benefits” arrangement, or just acquaintances.