A mentally abusive relationship involves a partner manipulating and controlling you emotionally and can be just as bad as a physically abusive relationship. Minds games can be just as harmful and life destroying.
I feel personally that younger people are perhaps more likely to experience and accept an emotionally unsafe relationship but anyone can indeed fall into this trap. Even the most happy go lucky intelligent people can suddenly find themselves being manipulated and controlled without realizing.
I want to talk a little about my own personal experience in a mentally abusive relationship so that others can learn form my mistakes. If you experience any of the things I write about in this piece please for the love of god get out. Even if it hurts you and its really hard just GET OUT!
What is my earliest memory of my relationship turning Abusive?
At the time I never noticed anything wrong, but looking back I remember the first manipulative move used against me was encouraging me to leave my job. It was my first job and I was 16, working for a bank call center. I remember my ex boyfriend telling me he didn't trust the men I worked with and that he didn't like it. When I spoke to him about the training being difficult he would put me down but in a very clever way that I didn't realize it. Instead of telling me I would get it eventually and encouraging me, he said maybe I just wasn't up for it, maybe It wasn't my thing, perhaps I should quit before I make an idiot of myself and get sacked. He promised to take me to work each day to save me bus money but then would on purposely make this difficult. Eventually by making me feel scared, not good enough and useless he convinced me to quit.
He promised me it didn't matter as he would take me under his wing and buy me everything I needed and wanted. He insisted. At the age of 16 this was all very flattering but little did I know it was just a bid to control me. Of course over time proved to be lies.
Abusers tend to be insecure.
They are scared of losing you or you doing something to hurt them. They are weak and un-trusting. They tend to dislike you having friends of the opposite sex. It didn't take long for my ex partner to begin accusing me of things and telling me he wasn't comfortable with my male friends. He made me feel like he would leave me if I didn't leave them and foolishly I did because he acted like the victim and made me feel like I was in the wrong. By cutting out my male friends a lost a huge chunk of my social circle.
Abusers are fueled by jealousy
As the above says they become jealous of any attention you pay to others. I remember however my ex would hang out with other girls whilst I was stuck indoors or at college or at work, he would tell me things to try and make me jealous and it now I am older I realize he was just trying to make me feel as rubbish as he felt. By doing this he began to make me feel insecure.
They will do ANYTHING to try and keep you.
These days I am always weary of a guy who proposes to soon. These guys will flatter you with a shiny ring and promise to make all your dreams come true but its all a game to keep you. Another one that is frankly scary and border-lining physical abuse is the "Lets have a baby card" Some people seem to think that having a baby will keep you around, always be wary of people who pull this shit far too soon, see what I mean by life ruining behavior? My ex tried this one on me when we had no where to live, no money to raise a kid but he persisted and nagged and begged but I am just SO glad I wasn't so stupid as to let it go that far. I did fall for the mock wedding proposal though. More fool me.
I tried many times to break up with my ex once I got fed up and realized something was wrong. The thing is with people like this, is they really arn't going to let you go easily. Suicide threats seem to be most popular but remember is someone is threatening to harm themselves because you want to leave that is NOT YOUR FAULT. You are not obligated to stay with someone if you don't want too. Getting blind drunk and needing help seems to be another favorite followed by constant calling, stalking and harassment. If you feel like some one is bothering you to the point were it makes your life hard, tell someone or go to the police. My ex had a wonderful habbit of driving past my new boyfriends house several times which was er, lovely.
They turn you against good friends and family.
I had such a close bond with my best friend I thought nothing would make me want to be apart from her, but my ex was very clever, he soon figured out saying he didn't like her or making out she was a bad friend to me wasn't going to work so he took another approach. He did the opposite. He went over the top of showing an interest in her and even said inappropriate things about her to make me feel jealous or uncomfortable around her so that eventually I didn't enjoy her company. He would tell me that other friends of mine spoke about me behind my back or sat "so and so said she hated me" so that I would stay away from them. Eventually I ended up with hardly any friends. I felt lonely and stupid. He made me feel like everyone laughed at me and I was better off on my own with just him.
He often caused arguments with my family too and made it uncomfortable or difficult for me to go home.
He tried to make himself all I had.
He took away my confidence.
When I first met him I was skinny, blonde and confident, lacking attention and popularity wasn't a problem for me and he saw that, and he took it away. It took a long time but he managed to do it. He told me my hair extensions were tatty and cheap looking. I wore to much make up, he picked on my flaws subtly. Of course once I had no job I wasn't able to buy myself nice clothes or make up. He had a habit of buying unhealthy food for me and telling me I was ungrateful if I didn't eat it and in my mind I have no doubt he was trying to make me fat, in fact several other people noticed this and tried to warn me. He took the piss out of the way I spoke as I have a little lisp and he would repeat things I said in funny ways. He made me feel ugly and antisocial to the point where I lost confidence being around people and loathed myself. By the end I really felt like no one would ever look at me and love me again.
One word "Gas-Lighting"
I only recently learned the term for this. I'll leave google to explain...
"Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity."
I can remember so many times he would say or do something horrible and then when I confronted him about it he would say I was lying, or it didn't happen like that (or at all). He would argue with me to the point that I would question if I had made it all up in my head. I remember one time I tried to push him away from me and he twisted it and told me I started it and I hit him, wich I didn't. He would stay stuff and then refuse to admit he said it. If he did try to hit me or did something wrong he would convince me I had made it up in my own head.
How did I get out of it?
One day I just had enough. after months and months of being accused of cheating and backstabbing I decided to start talking to male friends again anyway as I was paying the punishment regardless. My friends helped me out and eventually I grew the courage to walk away. It was hard. I put up with months of abusive texts and emails, driving past my new boyfriends house, rumor's, lies and threats and eventually it fizzled out. I pushed through it and eventually it all went away just like it never happened.
I understand many people are scared of what will happen when they try to leave and I understand that on a personal level. Its so frightening that for so long just staying seemed easier and safer but with the help of the friends I reconnected with I managed to pull through safe and well.
If any of my readers feel like they are seeking and abusive relationship please feel free to speak to me personally. I urge you to get help and share your fears with someone and I promise it does get easier.