Recognizing and Leaving Abusive Relationships

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Recognizing and Leaving Abusive Relationships (image of abusive relationship)

By Megan Hull

While abusive relationships can be difficult to identify — even for people within one— they can be incredibly detrimental to a person’s physical and psychological health. Over time, abuse can wear down your resilience and leave you prone to chronic diseases, mental health issues and even addiction. By identifying abuse as early as possible and finding ways to leave abusive situations, you can heal and, eventually, enter a relationship where you feel respected, valued and safe.


Types of Abusive Relationships


When most people think of abusive relationships, they tend to focus on those that are physically abusive. But a relationship can be considered abusive whenever one partner tries to control or dominate the other. While this can be accomplished through physical violence and threats, it can also be done by chipping away at the partner’s self-worth and self-esteem. By understanding the different types of abuse, you or someone you loved can realize the gravity of their situation and find a way out of it.


Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Just because you’re not being hurt physically, doesn’t mean that you’re not in an abusive relationship. Also referred to as psychological abuse, emotional abuse is any act that diminishes an individual’s sense of identity, independence, dignity or self-worth. Many people in abusive relationships feel that there’s no way out of the relationship, or that without their emotionally abusive partner they’ll have nothing.

Signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Constant criticism
  • Shaming, blaming and belittling
  • Name-calling
  • Withholding affection
  • Punishment or threats of punishment
  • Gas-lighting
  • Refusing to communicate
  • Isolating partner from supportive family and friends
  • Threats of physical violence

The damage that emotional abuse can do is very real. An emotionally abusive relationship can cause just as much psychological upheaval as a physically abusive one, if not more. If left unchecked, an abusive partner can gain control of your financial information and withhold basic necessities like food, clothing, medications and shelter from you. Over time, the burden of being demeaned and diminished can trigger anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In many cases, emotional abuse may even escalate into physical abuse.


Physically Abusive Relationship

In a physically abusive relationship, an abusive partner uses intentional physical force against their significant other, with the goal of harming and dominating them. If you’re in a situation where you’re being physically abused, know that domestic violence is a crime. The police have the authority to protect you from any physical attack, including one carried out by your partner.


No amount of physical abuse is acceptable.


You don’t have to accept it, and it doesn’t have to go on for any longer. If you or someone you love is being physically abused, help is closer than you think. Call or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline today. Communication is available both over the telephone and through online chat.


Consequences of Abusive Relationships

It can be difficult to break free from an abusive relationship. You may love your partner, and hope that your relationship will improve over time. But you can’t afford to stay in a relationship where you’re constantly mistreated. You deserve to have love given freely and openly to you. On top of this, the effects of suffering from any type of intimate abuse can extend to nearly every facet of your life.

Over time, an abusive relationship can lead to:

* Physical damage: Physical abuse can result in long-term injuries and permanent health conditions, some that may even result in death or disability.

* Psychological trauma: Abuse can dramatically increase your chances of suffering from low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal thoughts.

* Addiction: Both emotional and physical abuse can raise your chances of struggling with a substance use disorder, which in turn can increase your chances of suicidal thoughts and other mental health struggles. While professional treatment is available, the process of recovery can be long and difficult.

* Social impairment: Forced social isolation is often part of abuse. This can leave you disconnected from close friends or family members, and feeling unsure, awkward or embarrassed in social situations.

* Familial harm: The effects of abuse aren’t confined to the person being abused; they can also extend to any children who witness abuse. This can leave children with a variety of psychological problems, and lead them to believe that abuse and violence are acceptable responses to conflict.


Help and Hope are Available.


While the reality of abuse can be difficult to accept and even harder to live with, the good news is that there are countless resources available. Whether you’re currently in an abusive relationship or recovering from one, professional treatment and advice is closer than you think. Organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you create a safety plan, work through any potential legal hurdles and remove yourself from an abusive relationship. Once you’ve begun the process of healing, you can enter into a professional care program to process your experiences. Many programs, like those offered at The Recovery Village, can help you simultaneously address addiction and mental health concerns.

Life after abuse is possible. It may not feel like it now, but you can overcome this, and go on to lead a happier, healthier life. You can find love that is healthy, supportive and fulfilling instead of isolating and painful. Your life is in your hands. Don’t let another moment slip away.


The Recover Village (logo) Megan Hull is a writer for The Recovery Village.

You can call The Recovery Village toll-free at 844-229-2268.





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