Abuse takes on many forms, as experts know all too well. You don't have to be physically beaten to be an abuse victim. Mental and emotional abuse can be (in the majority of the cases) actually more detrimental to you than the physical abuse as the former does not leave any obvious scars.
The question is, how do you know that you are in an abusive relationship? Its normal to excuse the other person's behavior and think that the way the relationship is playing out is normal. However, there are tell tale signs that you are living an abusive relationship, which I share with you below.
1) Plays the children against you
This is a classic tactic that an abusive partner will use. I have seen this all too many times. Badmouthing you to the children is a great way to build their strength over you. As a parent, there is nothing more challenging than having your children decide they do not like you, while they turn against you.
2) Is nasty about you to loved ones behind your back
At any point you find out that your partner has been badmouthing you to people who are close, such as your family members and friends, you know that there is something to look out for. Why would someone that loves and respect you, go about being nasty about you to those you love behind your back? Anyone that lives a healthy relationship knows that this would not happen because they would speak to each other first about how they feel.
3) You start drinking to numb out your sense of insecurity
I have often seen this happen, that in order to numb out the negative feelings caused by the negative thoughts that are running around in the mind of the abused, they will do anything to feel better, and this will usually include alcohol or drugs even. This of course then spurns on the feelings of insecurity and the drinking ensues.
4) Not sure where you stand
You may feel that you are walking on egg shells to avoid their outbursts of anger; never really knowing when they might just have another tantrum in an attempt to get their own way. Yes, we all get angry at times, but there is anger and then there is a sense of your environment not being safe because of what may ensue if they are angry; the verbal attacks, the insults, and the threats.
5) Puts you down in front of others constantly
You may well be thinking, what is the difference between them badmouthing you behind your back and putting you down in front of others? Well, they are part of the same coin, however they have different outcomes. When someone is putting you down in front of others, you will probably feel humiliated and embarrassed right there and then. An un-abusive relationship would not even contemplate this as an option.
6) You feel like you have turned into someone that you don't recognize
Do you feel like you don't recognize yourself? As you stand in front of the mirror, you see a person who has lost all of their life, all of the light has gone out of their eyes - they look tired and withdrawn. If this is how you currently experience yourself, ask yourself why has it come to this? How did you get here?
7) Threatens you with ridiculous claims
Have you ever heard your partner say, "If you do this, or don't do that, I will...?" If you have then you know that you have just entered into a conversation of emotional blackmail, which is definitely a sign of mental and emotional abuse. No one in their right mind would threaten someone else with these sorts of claims in a good relationship.
If you can acknowledge that you are in an abusive relationship and overcome the shame and anger you feel towards yourself for being such a fool, that will stop you from facing up to what the reality actually is, then you start to do something about it. The question is what can you do now to keep safe?
1) If you want to leave and you don't know how, make sure you have a plan in place that will allow you to be safe. Leave when they are not there and ensure that they do not know where you have gone for the time being.
2) Make sure you get the protection that you need and report what you need to, to the police if you feel that is what is needed.
3) There are many organizations and coaches that you can go to for the extra emotional help. Being in this sort of relationship, you will find it will have had a detrimental affects on you in terms of your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself. This is why its important to address and deal with what you have gone through.