Today’s topic for #MentalHealthMondays is the effects of emotional abuse on an individual’s mental health. Most of the time when we as people hear the term abuse we automatically think of physical altercations of some form, which is true but abuse includes many other different forms that often go overlooked or passed off as just the norm.
Abuse – to use improperly or wrongly; misuse; to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way; to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; obsolete; deception. The term can either be used as a verb or a noun.
If you have knowledge about physical abuse, take the physical part out when you begin to touch on emotional abuse. This form is when you’re taking …… or even giving ….. those same hits & punches psychologically and verbally instead of physically. Often times, emotional abuse goes overlooked as a form of abuse all together because there are no scars or bruises present on the person whom is being abused compared to physical. All of the hits and scars are being placed on your emotions and feelings and how you are thinking mentally. You are probably asking at this point if I myself have ever went through this form of abuse before. Well, yes. Sadly and unfortunately I never realized that I, myself went through this until the damage was already done on multiple occasions. I never truly knew what this was and what it consisted of until after things had become too much to bear, and when I started showing signs of participating in this form of abuse to others around me as well. Before I get into all the details, lets take a look at some signs and ways you can tell if you are going through this right now:
- Lack of Support: In a healthy relationship, you should be able to talk about your accomplishments and dreams with your partner. You shouldn’t get side eyes, snickering or belittlement from your partner when you express your excitement for reaching a milestone in your business, career or education. You should never feel bad about your accomplishments when sharing them with the person whom you are with, they should be just as happy as you are about them.
- Name Calling or Insults: In no way, shape or form should your partner ever call you out of your name in an insulting manner. Your partner should never insult you as well for their enjoyment or a quick laugh of entertainment.
- Criticism: Being criticized all the time can take an emotional toll not only on your mind, but your physical appearance as well. For example, if your partner is always speaking negatively about your attire or the way you wear your hair just to name a few, eventually you will begin to believe these negative things that he or she may be saying to you. Eventually that negativity will begin to show on the outside because you’ll stop dressing up in that attire that you like, you may even stop styling your hair how you like as well simply because they always speak negatively about the things that you favor and of course you have that strong desire to please them. But this allows you to lose focus on pleasing yourself.
- Lack of Empathy: Lets say you end up in a bad car accident, and you call your partner not only for help but also for support emotionally because you’ve just had a traumatic experience and you’re looking for comfort and reassurance that everything is going to be alright. But they purposely ignore you all together, or begin to change the topic to something about themselves when you bring up this horrible experience you have had. This is not healthy. In a healthy relationship, your partner is going to be concerned about you and your well being, if not more than you are. In a healthy relationship, your partner will be more than happy to be there for you during any of your times of need.
- More Chaos Than Balance: In a healthy relationship, you will have problems. No one sees eye to eye 24/7, 7 days of the week. That’s just life and how things go from time to time. But if your relationship has more chaos in it than it does peace, this is not healthy. A partner who loves and treats you right, will have a desire to fix any problems presented between the two of you as soon as possible. They will not allow those problems and issues to fester and build upon one another on a consistent basis without an effort to make things right.
- Placing Blame: A true partner would never continuously place blame on you for everything that goes wrong in your relationship. Most of the time an abuser won’t take responsibility for their actions or wrongdoings, but instead will project their own insecurities onto you.
- Belittlement: Disregarding and demeaning what you have to say or how you feel is never alright in a relationship. A true and loving partner will always take your feelings and what you have to say serious even when they are joking and having fun with you. They won’t ever make you feel less than what you truly are. They won’t ever beat you down to the point where you feel like if you even have feelings period that you’re doing something wrong.
- Control: An abusive partner will try to control everything that goes on in your relationship with them. They won’t allow you to have a say so in anything pertaining to you two. All activities are determined by them. When you can contact them and when you can’t is always set. You basically have no control in the relationship you are apart of unless your partner makes a move as though you are their child and not their partner. This is not healthy. A true partner will never make you feel like you have to ask for permission in order to love them.
These are just a few signs or signals of emotional abuse and they are not limited to this particular list. We are not all the same and we don’t all go through the same things the same way. With my own past situation, things were fairly minor compared to other’s stories I have read or listened to but they were still a big deal and were heading in the direction of a bigger problem. It all began with just pure mistreatment and negative intentions. Typical things like controlling what happened among me and him was all done by him, a clear example of number 8 listed above. I could not claim the person whom I was spending 85% of my time with weekly. This was prohibited by him which meant no pictures being taken of us together at all. No posting on social media about our relationship that would show that we were together at all. Basically I was in a relationship and he was not. Now, this is often done. Don’t get me wrong, I know people right now who are comfortable with this form of a relationship and it works for them by giving a lot of privacy for them to enjoy one another without others being in their business, but it did not work for me and my situation because negative intentions were set well before we even began on his part. I would be called at multiple times just to be asked two main questions: where was I at/where was I going, and who was I with. This was put into place so he would know my location at all times no matter what. At first I believed this was sign that he cared about my well being and wanted to make sure I was safe but I soon learned the hard way that this was not the case. A person whom cares about you will first say at the very least “hello” or “how are you” when they pick up the phone to call you. Again, another negative intention set early. After that the verbal abuse came first through humiliation of myself, my business, my looks and just me overall through the use of social media on the internet, an example of number 2 and number 7. I was not allowed to claim this man remember? I was not allowed to post anything concerning me and him online as mentioned before, so that meant then that I was also not allowed to follow him on any social media. I learned the hard way about degrading things being said about me online for the world to see through close friends who knew what was truly going on before I could even see the bigger picture myself. This is probably the time period where I realized that I was in fact in an abusive relationship …. or at least the beginning stages of one. After that, I just had to see for myself what all the hype was about. So, I can admit, there would be times where I would sneak and go on his pages and read our entire conversations being posted as mockeries. Things that I would tell and discuss with him word for word out of trust and confidence were ending up on the internet for entertainment. This was a game after a while for him and to be honest it was in fact my fault. I had no control over the situation from the beginning. It’s like I was being trained as though I was his child to believe every word he said instead of paying attention to his own actions overtime. After this I became more angrier. I never showed my anger during that time. I just bottled it up and kept my head up, never showing my friends the hurt I was feeling inside and never ever showing my family members what was truly going on with me. After a while, I got tired of it. I got tired of jokes flying around me about our situationship. I got tired of seeing this being posted online even though I wasn’t allowed to even be connected with him online, I could still see it…..it’s as though he wanted me to see it in a creepy way. Once I began to become angry about his actions, the name calling began. I had allowed this man to do whatever it is that he pleased for so long that he began to believe that I was not worthy of descent treatment. He began to refer to me as stupid, dumb, and naive which is an example of number 2 shown above. Crazy enough, I believed him. I did not realize the brainwashing that was going on because of my big heart and always wanting to see the good in others around me no matter what…and he knew this and used this against me ultimately turning a good person into a very angry black woman. Of course with all this already going on there was an extreme lack of support, even some derailment of support. Instead of him uplifting me in what I was doing and the work I was putting in, he made me feel like I wasn’t doing anything right and that I didn’t need to be a business owner or even a college student, which was far from the truth. This is an example of number 1 shown above. Criticism as mentioned in number 3, came in another form though. Even when I would express how I felt in a hopes of fixing the problems we were having, I would be criticized for thinking too much or being in my feelings too much which was not the truth, I was just crying out for help but to the wrong person. This led to a lot of belittlement as mentioned in number 7, along with blame placed onto me which is number 6. As you can see there was more chaos than balance which is number 5 which wouldn’t allow us to have a healthy relationship let alone a relationship at all.
With all of this being said and me being so transparent with my own experience and story, I want you all to know whom are reading that this has been posted and brought to your attention to shed light on the aftermath of the whole ordeal, my mental health. Overtime, I began to pick up on his habits and began doing my own abuse as a female emotionally. It is true fellas, whatever woman you’re dealing with will eventually pick up on your ways of doing things if you’re around them long enough. This led to failed relationships after the fact, along with things just not getting done overall and friendships fading away. I did not know how to deal with my problem because I did not know I had a problem at the time. I was always warned about physical abuse and always taught to never put my hands on anyone and to not allow anyone else to do so as well especially a male. But no one ever taught me about emotional abuse growing up. No one taught me nor told me that my words and other’s words for me could have just as bad of an effect on me as a punch to the face would.
Let go and allow the healing to begin.
Once I figured out where the problem was and where it was coming from, I left the root of the problem all together. At first I felt guilty and it made me sad, but after a while I got used to being alone and on my own. Often times preferring it. Second step was pampering myself more. I often have spa nights now weekly where I sort of give my entire body a cleanse from starting with bubble baths, to manicures/pedicures, hair washes and even facials. I workout more now. Well not really more, but I find time at least twice a week to do some form of physical activity. This releases stress and helps me clear my mind when I start to become depressed and begin to think of the past. Another very important thing I began to do is allowing others into my world. Victims of abuse and even abusers tend to shut the world out as much as possible and I found myself doing that very thing overtime. To nip that in a bud, I began to network more for my business. Even if I didn’t know anyone in the room, it felt good for me to just be surrounded by people again after so long of isolating myself. I became closer to my girls. Having that tribe or squad of female friends was probably the best solution for me. I didn’t have to talk about my problems or anything, just being surrounded by them doing great things and making great memories was the ultimate therapy.
To this day I still do these things to keep my mind clear and to stay away from toxic people and environments that could influence me to do toxic things. After I realized my own toxic ways, I accepted my problem and began to just think before speaking. Even thinking before assuming everyone is the same has helped me out a lot. The main quote that I want my readers to take from this if you are going through this problem silently right now is: don’t become what hurt you. Misery truly does love company and it is very easy for toxic habits and behaviors to rub off on you overtime if you stay in these toxic environments and around these type of people longer than what you should. No forms of abuse are alright. It does not matter what gender you are as well. I know I focused on more so a female’s point of view when it comes to this article, but women can be just as abusive as men and vice versa. No one is excluded no matter their gender or race. If you’re looking for a sign of what you should do and what moves you should make in your own bad relationship right now, this is that sign. Leave. Get out before things get far worse than they already are.