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Guest post by Stacy Baggett:

When most people think of domestic abuse, they think of physical violence. Many people don't realize that there is another, unseen side to domestic violence, which can be even more damaging than physical abuse. Verbal or emotional abuse chips away at a person's psyche over the course of time, breaking them down so that they become depressed, insecure, and feel unworthy or unlovable. Sometimes the people dishing or receiving the abuse don't even realize that it's occurring. However, there are signs and symptoms to look for to determine whether you or someone you know is being emotionally abused.

Humiliation, Degradation, and Criticizing

If your partner is constantly making fun of you or putting you down in front of others, this is a sign of emotional abuse. Teasing and using sarcasm may seem harmless, but over time it erodes away self-esteem. If your partner gets indignant, claiming "it was only a joke" when you complain about his behavior, this is also a tell-tale sign. Abusers often downplay what they are doing; their goal is to make you question yourself, your decisions, to make you feel inferior.
If your partner is always criticizing or ridiculing your feelings, opinions, or suggestions and then downplays their actions when you become upset, this is a classic sign of emotional abuse.

Domination, Control, and Shame

Another classic sign of emotional abuse is if your partner talks down to you and treats you like a child. If you're constantly being chastised for your behavior because your partner deems it "inappropriate," or you feel like you must ask permission before going somewhere or making even a small decision, you may be dealing with emotional abuse.
An abuser uses domination, control, and shame as a way to assert their "ownership" over their partner and to keep her smashed down under their thumb. These are not normal behaviors that are portrayed in a good, healthy relationship.

Accusing and Blaming

Abusers often accuse their partner of things they concoct in their own mind. They have trouble apologizing, even when they are at fault, and almost never accept fault for their behavior. A sign of being in an abusive relationship is if your partner continually blames others – including you – for his or her mistakes or unhappiness.

Emotional Distancing

Sometimes emotional abuse takes place in the form of emotional distancing. Does your partner often pout or use the silent treatment when he becomes angry with you? Does he neglect your needs or use love withdrawal as a form of punishment? Does he lack empathy or seem to be uncaring about your feelings? These are all classic symptoms of abuse, and should be taken seriously.

Emotional abuse hurts the victim just as much as – if not more than – physical abuse. By being aware of the signs and symptoms, you can take steps to protect yourself against your abuser, which may include forming an escape plan. Nobody deserves to be verbally or emotionally abused, and any form of domestic abuse is NOT OK. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, please consider reaching out for help, and remember that you are not alone.

Photo courtesy of Cipher9 at Photobucket

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