October is domestic violence awareness month in the United States, which means it's time to shine a spotlight on the various forms of abuse that can occur between married couples and domestic partners.
One type of abuse that doesn't often get a lot of attention is emotional abuse. Victims of emotional abuse are often reluctant to equate themselves with "real" domestic violence victims. However, emotional abuse can be very destructive. Emotional abuse is all too often a precursor to physical abuse. Once the abuser has psychologically worn the victim down, the physical violence may begin.
How do you know if you are the victim of emotional abuse by your spouse or partner? These are the signs:
- They put restrictions on where you can go, who you can associate with or what you do with your time.
- You constantly have to deal with unwarranted jealousy or accusations of infidelity.
- They threaten violence against you, your children, family members or beloved pets to get your compliance.
- You have no or almost no access to money or resources.
- They monitor your every movement and listen in on conversations and phone calls.
- You are isolated from your friends and family members because he or she doesn't want them around or want you to associate with them.
- You aren't permitted to work, volunteer, or do anything that would give you autonomy.
- They humiliate you in either public or private by calling you names, mocking you or otherwise criticizing your looks, speech, weight, behavior, education level or anything else.
It's important to understand that abuse of all kinds can be cyclical in nature. Abusive behavior doesn't have to be constant to still be abusive.
If you're in an emotionally abusive relationship, it's important to seek help as soon as possible. Don't wait until the abuse turns physical. Domestic violence shelters and counselors can help you put together a plan of escape so that you can safely remove yourself from the situation. If your partner or spouse has threatened violence, an attorney can also help you seek a restraining order.