All of us have our off days, when we say and do things we regret. When we feel frustrated and let it out on someone close to us.
We are all human, and as perfect as we wish we could be, we aren’t, and make some mistakes. Some of which hurt the people we love. When we are the recipient of this type of behavior, it feels abusive, but this post is not about an occasional slip, it is about behavior that happens a lot without concern for the other person’s feelings, with the intention of putting them down.
Here are some signs that you are being badly mistreated and some options if this is happening to you.
1. You are being belittled. The other person may laugh at you. If you express yourself, make a joke of what you’ve said, not taking you seriously. You are being constantly criticized by them.
When we are bombarded by this type of negativity, we may believe it is true. But the truth of the matter is that these people feel badly about themselves, and we are just their target, it really has nothing to do with us.
2. You are being yelled at. No one likes the tone of a raised voice. The sounds around us are so important. If they are soothing (like good music), that can make us feel peaceful. Loud noise can make us feel anxious and unsettled. Someone who screams a lot is hard to be around. And if they are putting you down, that is doubly invasive. The best thing to do if you are in this type of situation is to remove yourself.
This may cause them to scream louder, but you do not have to tolerate this type of behavior. For example a comeback might be, “Your tone is inappropriate, if you continue like that, I will have to leave.”
3. You are being told that you will never amount to anything. We may have suffered abuse as children, or from a boss, teacher, or relative. Whatever they told us are LIES. It was the perspective of people who did not think highly of themselves. We just happened to get in their way and became the target of their grumblings.
If someone is disparaging, question the statements you are hearing, ask yourself, “Is this really true about me?” Of course, it isn’t. When you start to question the reality, you will see the truth about the other person.
4. You are being made to feel guilty (but you haven’t done anything). An abusive, manipulative person knows how to make you feel bad. They have been practicing enough–not taking responsibility for their own actions, and putting the blame on someone else.
They also are masters of making you feel like you did something wrong, when you did absolutely nothing to contribute to their distortions. Don’t buy into their manipulations. Think to yourself, “Well, I feel guilty, not because I did anything wrong, actually, I am doing something right by not believing what they are saying.”
5. You are being compared to someone else, always falling short. Emotional abuse takes many forms. If someone is always pointing out how you just don’t quite measure up–it can be a subtle form of torture–chipping away at your self-esteem and confidence. Again, becoming aware that what they are saying isn’t true, realizing how limited they are, pinpointing when you may have heard the same messages in the past (and how limited those people were as well), can help.
It is very important to reach out for support to work through the feelings that come up when you are subjected to emotional abuse. A counselor or a therapist can be of great help.