What Drives Emotional Abuse in Relationships

Verbal abuse, passive aggression, gaslighting, and social withdrawal are all forms of emotional abuse. Here are the causes of emotional abuse in a relationship, as well as how to recover from it.

Anger and abuse in relationships begin with blame: “I feel bad, and it’s your fault.”

Even when they recognize the wrongness of their behavior, resentful, angry, or emotionally abusive people are likely to blame it on their partners: “You push my buttons,” or, “I might have overreacted, but I’m human and look what you did!” Angry and abusive people feel like victims, which justifies their minds victimizing others.

The Causes Of Emotional Abuse And How Recover From It

Angry and abusive partners tend to be anxious by temperament. From the time they were children, they’ve had a sense of dread that things will go badly and that they will fail to cope. They try to control their environment to avoid feelings of failure and inadequacy. The strategy of trying to control others fails to satisfy them for the simple reason that the primary cause of their anxiety is within them. It springs from one of two sources—a heavy dread of failure, or fear of harm, isolation, and deprivation.

The Silent Abuser

Forms Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships

Not all emotional abuse involves shouting or criticism. More common forms are “disengaging” (a distracted or preoccupied partner) or “stonewalling” (a partner who refuses to accept anyone else’s perspective).

Partners who stonewall may not overtly put anyone down. Nevertheless, they punish by refusing even to think about their partners’ perspectives. If they listen at all, they do so dismissively or impatiently.

Separated partners say, “Do whatever you want, just leave me alone.” Often they are workaholics, swingers, flirts, or obsessed with something. They try to deal with their sense of inadequacy in relationships simply by not trying – because no trying means no failure.

Both stalling and disengagement tactics can make you feel:

  • invisible and inaudible;
  • unattractive;
  • Like you do not count.
  • Like a single parent.
  • What triggers emotional abuse in relationships

Harmful adaptations to anger and abuse: walking on eggshells

The most insidious aspect of living with an angry or abusive partner isn’t what’s obvious — the neurotic reactions to yelling, name-calling, criticism, or other demeaning behavior. It’s the adjustments you make to try to prevent those episodes. You are walking on eggshells to keep the peace or something like a connection.

Women can be particularly susceptible to the negative effects of walking on eggshells due to their greater tendency to experience anxiety. Many would engage in constant self-editing and self-criticism to avoid “hitting his buttons”. Emotionally abused women may second-guess themselves so much that they feel like they have lost themselves in a hole. Men who experience emotional abuse tend to become more and more isolated, losing themselves in work or hobbies—anything but family interactions.

No one escapes the effects of emotional abuse in relationships
Everyone in a family living on eggshells loses some degree of dignity and autonomy. We know that at least half of the members of these families, including children, will experience clinical anxiety and/or depression. (“clinical” means that the symptoms interfere with normal functioning.

They can’t sleep, they can’t concentrate, they can’t work efficiently, and they can’t enjoy themselves without drinking.) Most adults lack true self-esteem (based on realistic self-evaluation), and children are rarely as good about themselves as other children.

When it comes to more serious forms of destruction, purely emotional abuse is usually more psychologically damaging than physical abuse. There are two reasons for this: Even in the most violent families, incidents tend to be cyclical.

Early in the cycle of abuse, a violent outburst may be followed by a “honeymoon period” of remorse, concern, affection, and generosity—but not true sympathy. (The honeymoon phase eventually ends, as the victim begins saying, “Don’t mind the flowers, just stop hitting me!”) Emotional abuse, on the other hand, tends to happen every day—the effects are more harmful because they are more frequent.

Another factor that makes emotional abuse so devastating is that victims are more likely to blame themselves. When someone hits you, it’s easy to see that they are the problem. But when the abuse is subtle—by saying or implying that you’re ugly, a bad parent, stupid, incompetent, unworthy of attention, or that no one can love you—you’re more likely to think that’s your problem.

Important questions you should ask yourself:

Do I love myself
Am I able to fulfill my potential?
Does everyone I care about feel safe?
Do my children love themselves?
Are they able to reach their fullest potential?
Do they feel safe?
Recovering from walking on eggshells requires removing the focus from repairing your relationship or partner, and placing it squarely on your recovery. The good news is that the most powerful form of healing comes from within you.

You can draw on your inner resources by reintegrating your deepest values ​​into your daily sense of self. This will make you feel more valued, confident, and powerful, no matter what your partner does. And it will give you the strength to seek a relationship that will be appreciated and respected.