When it’s physical abuse there are marks to prove it’s an unhealthy relationship. There are scars from the past that tell stories you don’t tell to just anyone. It’s the bruises you hide. It’s the mark you claim were caused because you were clumsy and fell. It’s having to actually make an effort to hide the reality of what the relationship actually is or was.
But emotional abuse isn’t as easy to spot. Emotional abuse messes with your head. The red flags go unnoticed to average people and sometimes even to the individual being emotionally abused. They don’t realize there is an issue with how they’ve been treated when it might be all they know.
According to psychology today the definition of emotional abuse is “an attempt to control, in just the same way that physical abuse is an attempt to control another person. The only difference is that the emotional abuser does not use physical hitting, kicking, pinching, grabbing, pushing or other physical forms of harm. Rather the perpetrator of emotional abuse uses emotion as his/her weapon of choice.”
Straying away from the cycle of emotional abuse is difficult, but what is hardest is unlearning the things you’ve been taught in an unhealthy relationship. It’s hard entering a new relationship with someone who treats you well and just be open to something good but unfamiliar.
1. When she’s been emotionally abused she won’t trust herself.
When someone emotionally abuses you, they are constantly putting you down to a point where you question every choice you make. And as you go through relationships of possibly choosing similar people, you begin to not trust your judgment at all.
2. It’s going to take time for her to trust you.
When she finally meets someone decent, she’s going to question the relationship and you. Even when you’ve given her no reason to question you, it isn’t you she doesn’t trust, it’s everyone in her past who has taught her the wrong things about love and relationships. This becomes a difficult task to someone new because you’ll be the one helping her to learn what she actually deserves. And she’s going to question if she even deserves it.
3. She might push you away.
People reject what is unfamiliar to them. So give her time to come around at her own pace. Be the example she compares others too, not just another reason she distrusts people.
4. She’s always going to blame herself for things.
In emotionally abusive relationships the victim is always the one at fault. And whether she’s to blame or not, she will always take full responsibility for everything that’s happened.
You’ll find her apologizing for things that she shouldn’t be saying sorry for.
To her, it’s easier that way, but know when to sit her down and admit she wasn’t wrong. Know when to take responsibility for your own mistakes and be the one saying sorry.
5. She may not be the most confident.
When it’s emotional abuse you’re dealing with, people go one of two ways, either they get really thick skin and learn to not listen to that negative voice criticizing them or they crumble because of it. That voice suddenly dictates and controls their life belittling them and putting them down even when that person isn’t around anymore.
It’s the flaw someone pointed out constantly.
It’s the little comments that are on repeat.
Loving someone who has been emotionally abused means rewiring their brain and teaching them to see themselves in a different light than what they’ve come to know and what they’ve been told.
6. She never feels like she’s enough.
Regardless of how much she accomplishes or the things she does right, she’ll never feel like it’s good enough. People who have come from places of emotional abuse are constantly striving to be good enough for one person who is never satisfied. To the average person, it’s amazing what they do but they will never give themselves credit where credit is due.
7. She’ll overcompensate.
She’s always going to try too hard. She’s always going to out do you. She’s always going to take things to the next level. She’s programmed to constantly try unbelievably hard. When you’re in a relationship with someone like this you get overcome with guilt, because suddenly your best doesn’t feel like it will ever match up. But pulling her aside and explaining she doesn’t need to do these things is an important conversation. But she won’t understand because trying too hard comes very naturally to her.
8. She’s going to expect a lot of fights and you leaving.
When it comes to emotional abuse, the abuser uses the tactic of neglect & abandonment. As if them leaving after a fight is punishment. An abuser will always spin fights into pointing out, “if you did this it wouldn’t have caused me to overreact.” They will never take the blame fully. The tactic of neglect will always keep the person on edge and that goes back to control. If you can control someone’s emotions, you have power over them.
In a healthy relationship, talking through a problem and coming out with a solution will be unfamiliar to her. But if you can show her that’s how it’s supposed to be, you aren’t just teaching her about healthy relationships. It’s so much more.
9. And she’ll put herself down.
When someone has put you down enough, the abuser doesn’t have to anymore. It then transitions into self-destruction of her repeating every negative thing she’s heard.
When she’s putting herself down and saying negative things, you have to counter it and understand someone has fed her all of these things. Don’t look down on her for a lack of confidence or things that weren’t within her control. Just build her up from there.
10. She’ll struggle in asking for what she wants in the relationship.
She’s used to relationships that aren’t about her but rather pleasing someone else and always putting them first. You might not feel like you are giving her what she wants or needs because she doesn’t state it, but consistently treating her well is the best thing you can do.
11. She’ll struggle with communication.
She might bottle things up and avoid talking about things. The truth is, when you’ve experienced an emotionally abusive relationship you learn to be silent and a just little quieter. As if silence will avoid fights.
In a healthy relationship, that will be her biggest obstacle to overcome learning how to effectively communicate issues.
12. She’s unbelievably fragile.
You’ll realize how fragile and sensitive and emotional she is. She’s learned empathy the hard way. She’s learned how to hide things most people don’t have to even endure. She’s learned about unhealthy and bad relationships. Having learned all this and having overcome it you aren’t going to see her as broken and weak like others have. What you’ll see is someone so beautiful you fail to understand how anyone could mistreat her.
13. She’s stronger than she’ll ever give herself credit for.
She might look at herself and hold onto to a lot of baggage from her past but when she meets the right person, they teach her other people’s problems aren’t hers to carry so heavy and she never deserved to be their emotional punching bag.