I’ve been a Domestic Abuse Counselor for over 20 years, one of the most difficult cases I deal with are the ones where the woman come to me saying they’re not sure if they are being “mentally abused”. While physical abuse is obvious, mental abuse is a bit harder to detect.
My job is to let my clients talk as long as they need too, listening to them intently while responding in a soft caring manner. I proceed to ask the necessary questions, I then ask open-ended questions and let the victim talk, I’ll normally ask them if they’re listening to themselves and ask the question if they were to hear their, Daughter, Sister, Friend, or anyone else that had just told this story to you what would you say to them? would you be ok with this person being treated like this, or would you be ok with them being in this situation? I ask this question because from my experience they can normally put things in perspective and think about it for a second and the answer is always the same “NO I wouldn’t ”
Knowing I cannot tell them what to do this practice is usually a successful way to let the person whom I am counseling to let them know this situation isn’t a healthy one for themselves or anyone involved. I would like to point out that any kind of abuse no matter what it is, is not acceptable for anyone, you can’t excuse the behavior or ignore it, the more this abuse is allowed to go on the worse it will become in time.
There are various Relationship coaches, and couples counselors available through your church or other reputable organizations that may help if both parties are willing to be open and honest while working through any issues involved, this is especially successful if any signs of abuse are addressed early on. Yes, there have been couples who have been able to successfully work through these problems and with hard work on both individuals parts, the relationships have been successful and healthy. Again I stress if the abusive behaviors are caught early on in the relationship. (normally before physical abuse is present)
It’s important to know that most abuse starts out with verbal abuse and then comes various other forms of abuse, such as breaking items that are precious to the victim, harm to the victim’s pets, and then from there it could be as little as the victim getting accidentally harmed in the process of the abusers rage when breaking or destroying objects.
If this kind abuse is extended for a long period of time, it’s predictively inevitable that this person’s rage will continue and the victim will most likely be physically harmed. I advise my clients that verbal abuse is the precursor to more benevolent behaviors from the abuser and it’s extremely important to develop a safety plan for everyone involved (children, even pets) so as to safely leave the abusive situation, I let them know how this can be achieved, also letting them know how they can be provided with free emergency cell phones if needed, while advising these cell phones be safely hidden and not be found by the abuser as more abuse can occur if the abuser knows you’re trying to seek help.
Here I have a list of some things to look for and some questions to ask yourself if you are not sure your in an abusive relationship.
- Do you avoid certain topics for fear of angering your partner
- Are you being criticized or put down in any way?
- Does your abuser blame you for their abusive behavior this can include (name calling, breaking things, threats, coercion)
- Controls when and where you go out?
- Abusers may try and convince you that you are crazy/psychotic, they may label you with names that suggest you have a certain psychosis or other various personality disorders.
- Does your partner limit your access to money asking you to account for every penny spent?
- Doe’s your partner keep you isolated from friends or family?
- Were you forced to move away from family or friends having lost your support system? (unless this was a necessary job transfer)
- Are you afraid of your partner’s outbursts, strange behaviors, bad moods?
- Doe’s your partner Constantly check up on you and when you don’t answer your phone or texts does your partner threaten you or accuse you of lying, cheating or puts you on guilt trips?
- Are you afraid or intimidated when your partner yells and screams.
- Are you constantly making excuses for his behavior?
Of course, If you ever feel uncomfortable in any way about your partner’s treatment towards you this is usually a red flag. Do not let your partner say things such as you are too sensitive or let them belittle you in any way when you discuss your hurt feelings or concerns you should always be met with a kind, understanding loving nature from your partner concerning your feelings. You should always be able to discuss with your partner to see if you can work it out between the two of you, but if your partner is not cooperative and continues the behavior and will not consider counselling or plays the blame game saying it is your fault for his actions, then my best advice is to rethink things and move on no matter how much you have invested in the relationship. Your physical and mental health, as well as the welfare of anyone involved, is what’s important here. Stay strong, and as I always say you are never alone there is always help, from caring individuals on the other line, know that some have gone through abuse themselves and can understand while being compassionate, caring and helpful.
Below you will find the number to call and talk with a Domestic counselor who will guide you through this difficult time. This service is confidential and you can always remain anonymous.
National Domestic Abuse Hotline available 24 hours a day.