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Signs of emotional abuse in a marriage

Updated on August 27, 2015
Tashaonthetown profile image

Natasha Pelati has published three books of poetry and writes on real-life experiences with the help of psychology.

Abusive Relationships

Emotional abuse comes in many forms and for many, it has happened from the very beginning of their relationships, that they do not realise that they have been abused.

They say that love is blind and we will go out of our way to do all we can to love and adore the ones that we love but are they giving you the same love?

Physical abuse is easy to establish as there are bruises to prove it but in emotionally abusive relationships the pain is not visible to others.

Spouses that are being emotionally abused are being hurt in other ways and that hurt could take years to effect you but it does eventually catch up to you, causing loss of hair, stress and emotional shut downs.

Love is easy, free and should be as light as a feather and yes people argue and fight, as women and men are very different, however, emotional abuse is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by anyone.

Everyone deserves to be loved and respected and many that are abused do not understand that they are being treated unfairly as the abuser usually has a way of turning things around to make the victim believe that they are the ones in the wrong, or that they are the cause of a bad mood or verbal attack.

No abuser will ever say that they are sorry because they believe that they are not doing anything wrong and usually the abuser believes that they are the victim.

Spouses who have been in an abusive relationship from the very start have known no better and will take the abuse by learning to shut off but this is not the way a relationship should be like and people should not have to shut off from being abused in order to keep a partner calm.

Short fuses and childhood issues or even past relationships can lead someone to become verbally abusive which will require help in order for them to change.

The unfortunate truth is that if you are waiting for the moment that your spouse will suddenly turn around and love you or treat you better than you will be waiting for a very long time as this is guaranteed to never happen.

Spouses that are verbally abusive and blame you for their behaviour are generally the ones that will end up hurting you physically or in the worst case, one of you could end up dead.

Learn to understand the signs of abuse and GET OUT! Don't wait for change, do not feel sorry and do not think that you are to blame for abusive behaviour as this will end badly for you.

A spouse that is verbally abusive has no respect for you or anyone else, this person has no problem lying, cheating or stealing and will not be concerned about how you feel at the end of the day.

Abusive marriages are not healthy marriages
Abusive marriages are not healthy marriages

Signs that you are being verbally abused

Abusive behaviour usually happens when couples try to handle arguments in the wrong way and it leads to someone feeling as though their point is not being heard and they lash out and become abusive with name calling and bringing up past incidents.....this has happened in every marriage.

The difference between calling each other names or shouting about who did what and who didn't and an abusive relationship has many distinct differences.

Beneath the signs of emotional abuse is a spouse that is domineering, controlling and manipulative, always wanting to intimidate and attack.

A verbally abusive relationship has one spouse living in an invisible, mental prison held captive with despair and a lack of hope.

Victims usually become introverted, withdrawn and insecure as their lifestyle is isolated with their partners never taking them out to visit friends and their married social life is extremely limited as the abusive spouse has no interest in pleasing their partners.

The abuser always has to control the day and the events of the day, making it so unbearable that eventually he/she has so much control that everything is done to suit the abuser.

They end up telling you what to do, how to do it and when to do it, until it eventually feels as though you are an employee working for a boss.

Should you not do something to please your abusive partner, then you will have to prepare yourself for the verbal attack which will come next.

The abuser uses marriage or certain excuses to keep the victim under continuous emotional lows, playing a cat and mouse game with the victim, waiting for the moment where the spouse is relaxed or at peace in the relationship gaining some control or comfort, self esteem or happiness, to attack and get a spouse into submission.

Abusers will use language that berates their spouse

They will humiliate and ridicule their spouse in public

Withhold expressions of love and intimacy as punishment

Perverted sexual intimacy

alienated affections

Constant denigration

Lack of communication

Each conversation could erupt into an argument with the controlling spouse violently throwing abuse at the spouse in front of others and children in the home.

Abusive marriages are not healthy and the victim is always going to be victimised
Abusive marriages are not healthy and the victim is always going to be victimised

Mistreatment in the relationship

People can handle a lot of pain, pressure and stress but there is a time where you will eventually explode and your mind and body will let you know that it cannot go on in that way anymore.

Years of abuse can take its toll on you and your entire family, with the children learning that respect is not necessary and they will also learn from their parents that this is how relationships are, which in turn will have history repeating itself.

Continuous mental abuse can cause someone to retaliate by shutting down emotionally, physically or even display aggression.

Enduring years of constant abuse can lead a spouse to feel nothing at all and no desire to communicate or achieve anything for their partners or family. This leads to a void in the relationship which could lead to an explosive argument, leading to physical attacks eventually.

Victims have such low self esteem and a lack of confidence that they are unable to walk away, leaving them to be unhappy and emotionless for the entire marriage.

Abusive spouses will eventually need to control the entire home and will turn to the kids for approval or emphasise that their partner is the one that is wrong, cold and doesn't care.

Abusers alienate their spouses from everyone, including their children in order to feel that they are in control and that they are correct in what they are doing.

The abuser does not know that they are abusive and will always think that they are the victim and you are the cause of their anger. You will find that a humiliating experience in a shopping centre caused by an outburst and then your tears will be your mistake and not theirs.

Abusive people are abusive and that will not change, it will only get worse, to the point where you will not be able to brush your teeth without a comment.

The victim is you and there is a way to change that.

Mistreatment in a relationship can lead a spouse to be torn to shreds physically; as you are not made to feel good enough, attractive enough or fit enough.

Emotional breakdowns or shut downs will occur when you least expect it and this is due to the continual breakdown of your personality and the endless humiliation and disrespect alone and when others are around.

Abusers will find any reason to break you down and running around and walking on "egg shells" is not the way to be in a relationship that is healthy.

You Will Die Inside

The abuser has no problem making you feel a small as you could possibly feel. You probably gave up everything to be with this partner, your career, your freedom and your self esteem.

Staying in a relationship that has no respect, no loyalty and love will end up being the death of you.

Do you really want to crawl into a hole and die a slow death inside?

WAKE UP!!! GET OUT!!! And find what love and life is really about.

Be strong and walk away because as much as you love your husband or wife they are NEVER going to return your love and all you are ever going to get is hurt and pain.

Destruction is all your will ever have and by the time you reach the point of becoming cold and numb, there will be nothing left for you to feel.

Sadness will go away, love will feel like nothing and the death inside of you will consume you until you have nothing but a good book to read when you are old and alone.

Abusive marriages have no solution other than to GET OUT
Abusive marriages have no solution other than to GET OUT

Have you been in an abusive marriage?

How did you get out of your marriage?

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Reasons for not leaving an abusive relationship

By now you are torn apart and so weak that the thought of leaving is absolutely impossible as your spouse has probably convinced you that it is you that is the broken one. You are to blame for every little thing that goes wrong and I bet you have never heard your spouse apologise for anything, at any time.

Your children are important and leaving them will be very hurtful but gaining custody would be easy for you in this situation. By staying in this marriage, you would not be doing your children any good as this is what they will grow up to think a realtionship should be like.

You feel as if it is too late and there is nowhere to go and you have no idea on how to start again.

In some sad way you feel that your partner loves you and that the history you have built together is going to be hard to break away from.

You also feel as though you are to blame for the mood swings and abusive behaviour as you have been told that so many times, it must be true.

Abusers need outside help
Abusers need outside help

How to leave an abusive marriage

Your children are far better off without their parents arguing and being humiliated each and every day. This is what they have to wake up to and this is the life that you are teaching them to believe is normal. It is not normal and not healthy for your children to be in this environment and if anything you should consider that if you cannot find another reason to leave.

Your children will be happier and healthier out of the dangerous environment that you have brought them up in and there is hope for them to be happy, normal adults one day, if you leave now.

The strong, confident and beautiful person that you were once before you got married, is still inside somewhere, able to change your circumstances and find the strength to move forward.

You have had the strength to tolerate the abuse for so long, there is a place inside you that will find the extra strength to get up and leave.

It is not your fault, it has never been your fault and you should not feel guilty for anything. You have done the very best that you can and at no time have you caused the abusive behaviour, even though you have been lead to believe that.

Find the strength to fight back for the sake of your kids and your future.

The way to fight back is to finally realise that this is not the way to be treated and there is a life out there for you to live, which will be happy and healthy and most of all, peaceful.

Your spouse will not change, after all, they haven't in so long and if you think about it, it has actually gotten worse for you.

Abusive people need help to find the source of the problem and the reason why they are abusive in the first place. It has taken years out of you and you will help your spouse by leaving in order for them to get the help that they need.

The abuser is abusive because they have no love and do not love you. There is no maybe they do or maybe they are stressed.... there are no excuses other than the truth.

You are not loved and you need to LEAVE if you want to have a happy life.

Emotional abuse does not only happen to women but to men too
Emotional abuse does not only happen to women but to men too

Abusive marriage

There is an abuser and a victim

Emotional abuse can lead to aggression and anger, bitterness and lack of feeling

Everyone has the right to be loved unconditionally

Leaving an abusive relationship is the only option for a happer life

Abusers have issues from their childhood or past relationships

Statistics show that 40% of the abuse is from women and 60% from men.

2 in 5 men are abused in domestic violence and police often ignore assualt reports from men.

Advice from Dr. Phil on Abusive Marriage

An emotionally abusive marriage consists of a victim and an abuser. Dr. Phil has something to say to both.
The Abuser

  • Have you thought about how your actions truly affect your partner? Even when you stop the abuse, the pain continues because you've trampled on your loved one's heart and spirit.
  • Dr. Phil defines an abuser as both a coward and a bully. You choose to abuse where it is safe, in a place where you feel loved and protected. Would you do it in the workplace where you might get fired or in a social situation where others might get insulted?
  • You need to understand that respect is commanded, not demanded. If you think degrading and belittling your partner commands respect, you're wrong. You are simply demanding by imposing fear.
  • All abusers have excuses, says Dr. Phil. While the excuses vary, one principle remains: You are abusing instead of being constructive.
  • If you want to recover — for yourself and your partner — you need to tell yourself: "I'm not going to take this from me anymore." Sit down with your partner, look into his/her eyes, and apologize for the wounds you've inflicted over time.
  • Healing is a process. Rescuing your relationship will take patience and persistence.

The Victim

  • Take responsibility. You have played a role in setting up the relationship this way, and you must play a role in changing it. Telling your partner that the treatment is unacceptable is not enough. Your actions speak louder than words, so you need to make two bold moves: Change your own routine or behavior, and tell your partner you will no longer take the abuse.
  • Dr. Phil refers to a saying: "There are no victims, only volunteers." Don't go along to get along. Peace at any price is no peace at all.
  • Relationships are always up for renegotiation. You need to sit down with your partner, look him/her in the eyes, and tell him/her that you are taking a stand. You will not stay in the relationship if the abuse continues. From there, begin to negotiate. Figure out how both of you can take strides to make the marriage work.
  • Watch yourself to make sure you don't fall back into the victim role.

You have rights in a relationship

The right to be heard and to responded to with kindness

The right to emotional support and comfort

The right to receive an apology if there has been something offensive

The right to be free from anger, danger and rage

The right to live free from accusation, blame and degradation

The right to be respected

The right to be treated with love

The right to your own opinion and views

The right to have your own interests and work without criticism

The right to have feelings that are acknowledged

© 2014 Natasha Pelati


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    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Ann - maybe you need a break away together so that you can unwind and get out of your rut that you are in, often ranting and raving about traffic and dogs etc is because there is frustration. No person should be shouted at or treated unfairly and if you feel that he is abusing you then you need to let him know that you are not happy with this and you wont stand for it either.

      @Theresa Jonathan abuse is no excuse for anything and if someone has a problem then they need to address it, naturally when you love someone you need to help them but sometimes it is at a cost to you. People who are abusers tend to come from an an abusive past and if they do not get help then this is how it will always be, somewhere at some time it needs to change.

    • Theresa Jonathan profile image

      Theresa Jonathan 

      3 years ago from Maseru, Lesotho

      Positive and negative energy cannot occupy one space. An abuser is driving a car without reverse; he simply is unable to do good by himself. Change would come with deschooling and reconfiguring his mind and feelings and learning what love is and how to feel and experience love. An abuser is ill and has been a victim himself; probably during socialization or exposure to abusive environment.

      Advocacy should encourage abused to seek help if there is a chance and probability of change or leave before it is too late; that is, exposing children to such toxic environment which will perpetuate abuse.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      My husband is an emotional abuser. He has emotionally detached from me. We had a wonderful marriages, I don't remember when the rules changed. We used o relax after work together. Now he's always in a rage about traffic, the dogs, and yes, water on the kitchen counter. I'm 62 and I'm also adhd, and get panic attacks when I'm upset. And as for the silent treatment, he's very good. We agree to take a smoke break. I'm thinking great, he's calming down, but halfway thru he started on me again, I just left the room. I'm nobody's victim, wish me luck

    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you for sharing. I would also not wish this on anyone and for the abused, it would bw easy if we could make them strong and less afraid to leave so that they can see how good life is on another side.

    • Theresa Jonathan profile image

      Theresa Jonathan 

      4 years ago from Maseru, Lesotho

      You tend to lose the sense of self and wonder if there has ever been positive energy between you and the partner . Something I would not want anyone to experience. It is inhuman because we are supposed to be driven by love in all levels of connections with other humans ...Abusive relationship changes how you perceive the opposite sex, yet you know that there are still good people on this planet!

    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      I think in relationships with abuse of any kind it can come from either male or female and I have added statistics for men and women and a picture of females too!

    • Oztinato profile image

      Andrew Petrou 

      5 years ago from Brisbane

      I certainly believe that most of the physical abuse comes from men but I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the emotional abuse comes from women.

      As the topic was emotional abuse I thought I should have raised the issue about gender imbalances.

    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      they are harmful and people don't realise it!

      Oztinatio- statistics show that only 40% of abuse comes from women and 60% comes from men, you are correct and i have added females too! thank you for the heads up!

    • Oztinato profile image

      Andrew Petrou 

      5 years ago from Brisbane

      Why are all the images here about men abusing women?

      How about at least one of a woman abusing a man?

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Bad thoughts mentioned can be most hurtful.

    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      It is a problem that doesn't just make someone an abuser. There are past issues that need to be dealt with and they do not think before they act, sadly it is something that has to be worked on by a professional

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      There are certain things that should never be said or done, certain things you can never take back. Abusers need to think before they act. In my mind, it's a matter of having very little emotional self control.


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