Emotional abuse, while it leaves no marks, can sometimes be the hardest type of abuse to understand in a relationship. It's hard to imagine that someone who "loves you" could abuse you -- and besides, it's just words, right? It's not like you're being BEATEN.

Sad truth is, while broken bones heal, the wounds left from emotional abuse can last a lifetime.

Emotional abuse is a form of abuse in which a partner uses verbal assault, fear, or humiliation to undermine the other person's self-esteem and self-worth. Emotional abuse is every bit as damaging as physical abuse.

Here are some signs you're in an emotionally abusive relationship:

1) You're afraid to tell your partner about a normal happening - your car needs brakes, your boss made you work overtime - because you're not sure how he will react.

2) When you do talk to your significant other, he puts you down and makes you feel stupid.

3) You make yourself available to your partner no matter what the personal cost - just to avoid a confrontation.

4) You no longer want to bring your significant other around your friends or family because you're afraid he will berate you and humiliate you in front of your loved ones.

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5) You've begun to believe that you're the crazy one -- that you're the one with the problem.

6) When talking about an accomplishment - a promotion or something equally exciting - your partner sneers at you, putting you down, mocking your achievement rather than celebrating it.

7) You feel helpless, like you're trapped in the relationship.

8) Your partner treats you like an object, like property, not like a person with real feelings.

9) Your partner keeps a tight control on all things: money, the phone, using the car, who you see and what you do.

10) If you fight back, your significant other blames you for the abusive behavior. "If you weren't so dumb, I wouldn't have to yell at you."

11) You've begun to see yourself as worthless -- just like your partner tells you you are.

12) You'll go out of your way to please your significant other, no matter how much you have to sacrifice. If that means staying up all night to wash the floor, so be it. It beats the "lecture."

13) You're in complete isolation. Your partner doesn't want you around your friends or family and has convinced you that THEY are the ones who are abusive to you - not him.

14) You've begun to feel as though you deserve to be treated badly. If you were a better person, you wouldn't make him so mad!

15) You find yourself having to rush to his defense whenever he is brought up in conversation. You make excuses for his behavior regardless of the situation.

If you're in an emotionally abusive relationship or even if you think you're being abused but it's "not bad enough" to do anything about it, remember: it is. No one deserves to be treated this way, and everyone is worthy of respect. Even you.

Have you been in an emotionally abusive relationship? Did you get out of it? What would you tell someone who was being emotionally abused?


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