Scared woman with dirty male hands covering her mouth

Ten Signs you are in an emotionally abusive relationship

This blog is devoted to addressing issues that I see everyday in my Law Practice. One of the most common (and disturbing) types of clients are women who are being severely emotionally abused and don’t even know it.

Emotional abuse does not show itself as broken bones or bruises, but can often be far more damaging. If any of the following is familiar to you, I urge you to seek help. Talk to a friend, your pastor, a counselor, or a lawyer to get help in getting out. This type of abuse only gets worse over time.

  1. You are isolated from family and friends. Abusers control you by separating you from people who love and care about you, and care enough to speak out against the abuser.
  2. The abuser keeps tight control over everything in your life: money, the phone, using the car, who you talk to, where you go. If you are not where he expects you to be at the time he expects you to be there, he will question you on what you were doing and with whom…any he makes you feel guilty even if you did not do anything wrong.
    Note: I refer to women as “the abused” and men as “the abuser” simply because that is the most common scenario that I see in my office, but it can be the other way around, or either partner in any kind of relationship.
  3. You are afraid to tell him about a normal happening because you never know what will set him off. You feel like you are walking on eggshells whenever he is in the home.
  4. You feel alone, crazy, helpless, trapped and worthless. You are beginning to believe what he tells you about yourself – which is never the truth.
  5. You feel like you have to defend him whenever he is brought up in conversation. You make excuses for his behavior.
  6. Your partner mocks your accomplishments. He never celebrates them, but belittles them as trivial or stupid.
  7. You avoid social situations with your partner because you fear he will berate you and humiliate you in front of others.
  8. You go to extremes to please your partner – just to avoid a confrontation.
  9. You are relaxed and happy only when your partner is away.
  10. You no longer take care of yourself like you used to…you don’t get your hair done, treat yourself to a mani-pedi, get regular exercise or eat nutritious food.

If any of these ring true for you and your relationship, get away from it for a while. Visit a family member out of town; take the kids with you. Or at least call an abuse hotline when your partner is out of the house. When you are in the middle of it, it is difficult to see the truth of the situation.
If it is to the point where divorce is the only way out, do not hesitate to consult a family law or divorce attorney whether you have money or not. The law provides for a powerless (and money-less) spouse to be represented. If your partner has all the money, a Judge can order them to pay your attorney’s fees, or a Court can appoint an attorney to represent you. There are also battered women’s organizations and Legal Aid that will represent women who cannot afford to pay for representation. Do not let the excuse of no money keep you in a bad situation.

Help is out there, you just have to let someone know that you need it.

I like to promote family togetherness and long marriages, but only if they are healthy and productive. Staying in an abusive relationship or marriage only damages the abused. Get out (or at least get some help) while you can.

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