Abuse comes in all shapes and sizes and doesn't discriminate. These kinds of relationships can happen to anyone, unfortunately, and it's not always obvious — to outside observers or even, sometimes, to you — that it's actually going on in the first place. Sifting through what's happening in your own mind and determining if there's emotional abuse in your relationship isn't always easy. Sometimes it takes a professional or close confidant to point it out to you for you recognize how serious the situation is. Emotional abuse isn't entirely hidden, however. There are physical signs you're being emotionally abused that you might not even realize can be signs, things that you wouldn't have thought were linked, but actually are. Seeking help if you suspect or know that your relationship is emotionally abusive or encouraging someone else to do the same is important.
"If you or someone you know may be in an emotionally abusive relationship, please seek help for a mental health professional and/or contact your local Domestic Violence Hotline," Melissa Dumaz, MS, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper in an email exchange. Don't assume that things will get better on their own.
"It is not your job to change the abuser," therapist Kimberly Hershenson tells Romper by email. "It is up to them to learn to change the way they respond when they are angry or stressed as well as understanding their patterns of controlling behavior. If your partner is unwilling to get help it is best to end the relationship."
These physical signs of emotional abuse can help provide insight into what might be going on in your relationship. If you notice them and notice that they match up with other characteristics of emotional abuse — like controlling behaviors — reaching out to a qualified therapist might be a good next step.