Abusive partners are most often survivors of abuse themselves, and wreak havoc on the receiver(s) in mental, verbal, emotional and physical ways. Yet for many abuse survivors, mental abuse in relationships leaves the most lasting scars.
Mental Abuse Checklist:
1) Does your partner criticize or call you denigrating names like ugly, stupid or worthless?
2) Does your partner blame every argument or thing that goes wrong solely on you?
3) Do you second guess your own thoughts and feelings in favor of those of your partner?
4) Does your partner deny or refuse to acknowledge your feelings?
5) Is your partner hot and cold – loving one minute, and critical or distant the next?
6) Do you live in daily fear of upsetting your partner, or making him or her angry with you for something you’ve done?
7) Does your partner threaten, intimidate, isolate or control you?
If you have answered yes to any of the preceding questions, you are experiencing a form of mental abuse in your relationship, and contrary to what you may think and believe, you have done nothing to warrant being treated this way. You deserve respect and love.
Low self-worth and self-limiting beliefs are at the core of mental abuse in relationships, and are something that can be healed over time, though recovery is a gradual process. With abusive relationships, both the sender and receiver must change to stop the cycle; however, an individual can only truly change if they’re willing to make the change for themselves.
By allowing yourself to be abused, you are enabling your abuser, and if you are the one doing the abusing, continuing the behavior is accepting it and telling yourself that you are content with abusing a person who should be receiving your love and respect instead. Mental abuse over long term periods of time can cause psychological breakdowns, as hurt after hurt builds up and washes away all traces of the person’s individuality. Should you be in such a situation, it is imperative that you seek outside help.
(If, as you worked through the checklist, you personally identified as somebody exhibiting these behaviors to your partner, I strongly encourage you to seek help as soon as possible and confide in family, friends, your pastor, or a local counselor for help in healing the root causes for the damaging behavior.)