69 women have died in Australia this year from domestic violence. These are horrific statistics that have prompted the nation to end violence against women.
However, domestic violence isn’t just physical or just women. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging to any gender.
The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at a person’s feelings reducing or eliminating their self-esteem and independence. In an emotionally abusive relationship, a person may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without their partner they are worthless.
Though physical violence is often seen as being more serious than emotional abuse, this is not the case. Emotional abuse can affect anyone, male or female, and have serious repercussions. Emotional abuse can leave a person feeling depressed, anxious and even suicidal. Emotional abuse can feel equally as destructive as physical abuse and can do irreversible damage to a person’s mental health.
So why do people become emotionally abusive? It is often the case that emotional abusers are insecure in their own lives. They often feel the need to have power and be in control or they are easily jealous. This can come from another aspect in their life being out of their control.
It is often hard to tell if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship because you have been worn down to believe what your abuser is saying. However, here are nine signs to help you identify emotional abuse in a relationship
1. You are being constantly insulted and put down.
You are being told that you are not good enough. The way you do things is never the right way or done to the right standard. You are worthless. You are told that the things you enjoy are stupid or wrong. You are ignored when you speak or do something
2. They call you names.
Name calling can be an affectionate act, however, sometimes name calling can be harsh and rude. This is emotional abuse.
3. No trust
You are not trusted. You are constantly asked what you are doing or where you are. They go through your private messages, pictures, emails and social media accounts. They check your wallet and receipts to control spending and see where you have been. ‘Find my iPhone’ may be enabled so they can see where you are.
4. You are paranoid that they will cheat on you or that you aren’t good enough.
You have begun believing that you are worthless and guilty of their accusations, that you worry they will find someone better and leave.
5. You annoy them every time you speak.
They are disinterested or irritated when you have something to say or do. You stay silent when you have an argument or a difference of opinion to avoid it getting out of control.
6. You’re being isolated from friends and family
Your friends have stopped making an effort to invite you to events because you would never attend. You have no friends of your own. You don’t see your family as often as you would like. They have said bad things about your friends and family to make you stop seeing them.
7. Jealous of your dreams and goals not just people
They are jealous of your ambition. They don’t want you to do better than them. When something goes well for you, they aren’t happy.
8. When you are apart they become obsessive
If you leave they become obsessive and will do anything to get you back. They can’t stop thinking about you. Their behaviour can lead to stalking, which is an offense and legal action can be taken.
9. They threaten you
They say that if you leave, they will hurt themselves. They say that if you do something wrong, they will cheat on you.
If this sounds like you, there are some things you can do:
- Are you in immediate danger?If you are in danger of being hurt, or you are worried about your safety, contact police or emergency services (000) immediately and try to move to somewhere safe.
- Do you have support? Making a decision to leave a situation where you feel unsafe may be hard. If possible, talk to someone you trust, like a friend, family member, counsellor or youth worker who understands domestic violence. 1800Respect are a national counselling helpline, who are there for information and support 24/7. Call 1800 737 732.
- Talk to the police:If you feel unsafe or scared or you know of someone who is being abused, talk to the police.
- Trust yourself:If someone is hurting you or threatening to, it is not ok. Make sure you make decisions that are best for you or your children.
- Know your rights:It may be a good idea to check out your legal rights.
Written by Shine Lawyers on November 18, 2015. Last modified: September 6, 2018.