3 Signs of Psychological Abuse and How to Overcome Them
Abuse can come in all shapes and sizes and can impact any kind of relationship. One form of abuse that is not as easy to recognize is psychological abuse. This form of toxic behavior is also commonly underestimated for how harmful it can actually be.
Difficult-to-identify psychological abuse can endanger women the most. That is because unlike the obvious evidence of harm that happens with physical violence, psychological abuse can create “invisible injuries” on a woman’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.
However, this same psychological abuse can impact one’s psyche and sense of well-being just as intensely as physical violence.
Understanding the extent of these devastating effects helps with identifying this behavior and seeing it for what it really is- abuse. So look at these 3 signs of psychological abuse and then at how to overcome it.
3 Signs of Psychological Abuse
Let’s recognize the signs of psychological abuse as they appear during a relationship with a controlling partner.
Abuse can be the cause of various responses, symptoms, and conditions that go on to impact more than just the relationship between two people. In a piece written by Carol A. Lambert, MSW, a psychotherapist and domestic abuse expert, she describes the most common conditions identified by the majority of the more than 1,000 women who attended her recovery groups.
Your controlling partner creates an experience in your relationship that can cause major negative changes in you, leading to many profound losses:
Suddenly self-doubting and insecure
When exposed to psychological abuse, many women who saw themselves as confident and self-assured would find themselves struggling with insecurities and self-doubt due to their experience.
If you have insecurities, you will find they intensify over time as they are used against you in a psychologically abusive relationship.
Confused and indecisive
Before a relationship that subjects you to psychological abuse, you may have felt more grounded and trusting in your own choices. However, the abuse leads you to question everything.
As psychological abuse often attacks the individual’s ability to be self-sufficient, you may start to feel incapable or questioning your own judgment.
Someone who is psychologically abusive will not want you to be emotionally content, especially if it means your happiness does not depend on them. So they will harm you psychologically in order to wear you down.
Psychological abuse also often contributes to other serious mental health conditions, such as:
One symptom of trauma is hypervigilance. This state is very frequently experienced by women with a controlling or abusive partner. It causes people to feel tense and stay on high alert when their partner is around. Hypervigilance can make people afraid of saying or doing saying something their partner doesn’t like. The individual’s ability to control their own life diminishes over time as a result of their trauma.
3 Steps to Overcome Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse is all about mentally and emotionally harming and disarming someone. Therefore, overcoming psychological abuse means becoming emotionally stronger. Building yourself back up will help you act in your own best interest. Looking at these 3 signs, there are 3 steps you can take to overcome the effects of psychological abuse.
The old saying ‘knowledge is power’ applies to overcoming psychological abuse. Understanding how to overcome the abuse is possible when you better understand the abuse in the first place. Learning about controlling behaviors and their impact, while also learning to recognize them in your relationships, can help you to learn how best to respond.
A big part of being empowered is being able to trust yourself and your worth. In order to become emotionally stronger, you don’t want to allow someone else to constantly confuse you by devaluing how you feel and what you think. A huge step in the right direction is trusting yourself to see things clearly. Trust yourself to think and to feel for yourself, so someone else cannot control your thoughts and feelings.
Living with psychological abuse, people tend to had to hide parts of themselves. Not only should you learn to trust your thoughts and feelings, but you should also express them. This means welcoming in all those pieces of yourself that you were hiding from your partner and being who you are regardless.
When you start making progress, don’t let any of it go to waste. Your feelings and your thoughts and what you’ve learned from the relationship matters, so make it count. When you are able to trust your own perception and express your own emotions in a strong and healthy way, you’ll be able to break free from the psychological abuse of a controlling partner.
Psychological Health and Addiction
Many people who experience psychological abuse turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope with their pain. Some people will turn to drugs that help them to feel numb or calm their anxieties. Others will turn to drugs that help them feel empowered, focused or accomplished. All of these strategies are temporary and self-destructive. They do not help create actual empowerment or lasting support.
Abusing drugs in order to try and regulate emotions can quickly lead to an addiction. Meanwhile, the two conditions feed into one another. Substance abuse can make someone feel worse about themselves, making them more vulnerable to psychological abuse, so they use more to escape those feelings. This cycle can go on for a long time.