Courtesy of the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Am I Being Abused?
This question may have crossed your mind a time or two. Try this Abuse Screening List. Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, abuse doesn’t have to be physical! When one person scares, hurts or continually puts down the other person, it’s abuse! One or two checks doesn’t necessarily indicate abuse, but might give you pause to think about working on the relationship.
Does (or has) your partner…
_____ Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?
_____ Slowly isolated you from your family and friends?
_____ Put down your accomplishments or goals?
_____ Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
_____ Threaten to hurt your children if you do not do what they say?
_____ Threaten your pet if you don’t comply with their wants or desires?
_____ Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
_____ Tell you that you are nothing without them?
_____ Treat you roughly – grab, push pinch, shove or hit you?
_____ Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
_____ Made you totally dependent on them economically?
_____ Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
_____ Blame you for how they feel or act?
_____ Refusing to give you or your children medical and dental care?
_____ Force you to have an abortion?
_____ Preventing you from going to church and participating in church activities?
_____ Restrict you’re your access to the children?
_____ Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
_____ Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
_____ Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family?
_____ Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”?
_____ Make you take drugs or alcohol?
_____ If you need assistive devices such as a cane or wheelchair, are they taken out of reach?
For those in Domestic Discipline Relationships:
____ Are standards set so high you usually fall short of them?
_____ Are you punished in anger?
_____ Are punishments too severe for the offense?
_____ Are your mistakes not expained to you?
_____ Are you treated a child?
_____ Is affection withdrawn as punishment?
And for those that are in to the B & D and S & M of BDSM:
_____ Are hard limits ignored?
_____ Is safety ignored?
_____ Is there no effort made to resolve conflict after a problematic session?
_____ Is there no aftercare given?
_____ Are you just used as a `object’ on which your partner takes out their anger?
_____ Has your partner tried to force you into sexual situations with others?
_____ Are your needs as a submissive/slave ignored?
_____ Has your partner ever used scenes to express or cover up anger and frustration?
The following are Indications of MAJOR Abuse. Counseling is recommended for anyone that can answer YES to any of the following questions.
_____ Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
_____ Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
_____ Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
_____ Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
_____ Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
_____ Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
_____ Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?
_____ Doubt your own judgment even in small decisions?
_____ Always doubt your memory of the way things happened because of what he says?
_____ Feel increasingly trapped and powerless?
_____ Have you thought of suicide?
_____ Have you thought of murdering your partner as a way out?
Note: This list is not comprehensive. Your particular situation may be somewhat different. If you still feel you are being abused, seek professional counseling. Nothing in this checklist should be considered a substitute for counseling.
If you feel you are in an abusive relationship, get help now!
You can take the first step by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) (TDD 1-800-787-3224) or go tohttp://www.ndvh.org.
I.- How to begin the healing!
Perhaps the only place to begin is with yourself. Looking at this primary and inevitable relationship, try to make a plan to forgive your mistakes and learn how to appreciate the good things you do…Every time you catch yourself saying: “Yes, I did that, but it didn’t last (or was too expensive) (or was a lot of work) (or I was working on the wrong direction…) STOP! saying “yes, but” thwarts the process of recognizing the good work you do. Learn to say “I’m able to do excellent work,” and leave the self-recrimination behind.
One should always work on building and nurturing the intimate relationship with oneself, specially if our minds are full of other people’s negative expressions. Learn to hear yourself saying negative appreciations, without even evaluating if they are right or not, and teach yourself to stop.
Healing from abuse is based on the important decision of shutting out any hurtful expression; and expressing our needs to be treated with love and understanding. Perhaps it will take you some time to get to the point of feeling confident in asserting yourself in this aspect. Try at the beginning to put some distance between you and the abuser, and signal that you need time alone to repair and heal. And use this time to remember all your positive aspects of which you should be proud of!
II.- Steps to healing: accepting yourself
In the process of recovering our self-esteem, there are several little steps that bring a lot of joy. Once you have decided that the view of you that he is promoting has more to do with his sick fantasies than with your reality, then you begin to detach.
Detaching is making some space between his perceptions of you, and who you are. The person who you are is not decided and described by him; now you have begun to be your own person.
Good or bad, you are who you decide to be….it is exhilarating to realize that you can be yourself and not depend on anybody else to tell you how valuable or unworthy you are…
Once you take stock of who you are, warts and all, you can begin by rejoicing of your new freedom! Be happy about freeing yourself; of only depending on yourself for deciding about your life. You can even allow yourself a bit of panic thinking: “what if I need something and I can’t get that by myself?” and the answer is…..’I will find a way, because I’m a resourceful and resilient person!”
Feeling secure and happy about yourself is one of the strongest points in having a healthy relationship with any partner. Remember: you are your own person, and you make yourself happy with your decisions…
For instance: Taking care of yourself by eating right will boost your self-esteem. With a high self-esteem, comes confidence and happiness within yourself. When you are happy about yourself, it’s easy to be happy towards others especially your partner. You are sending the message that you can provide your own peace of mind, so others don’t imagine that it would be easy to control you! This is a shield of protection around you that sends a strong message to potential mates.
Being carefree and self-reliant has also more benefits… You are self-centered in a good way; when you are with or without your partner, you don’t worry about what she or he is doing. Fill self-confident about yourself and carefree about the relationship because you expect good things only.
Of course, you already know how to spot signals of abuse, so now you can say: “I’d prefer you not to treat me in this way: I’m too valuable to be here waiting for you to finish having a conversation with your friends while we postpone going together for dinner. Can you make up your mind and tell me if we are going together, now? There are other things I need to pay attention also…”
And here you are now: positioning yourself in a place of equality and respect….congratulations!
III.- Confronting Abuse With a Strong Self
Once of the strongest tools you have for healing emotional abuse is yourself and your own strength. Today’s tip is to find the YOU in the abuse, especially in self abuse.
Finding the “you” means that wherever the assaults occur, whatever perceived faults or shortcomings he may use against you in a fight, you refuse to be defined by his abuse. When he batters you down and tries to keep you under his thumb, you draw on your own strength, not his words, to determine your validity and self-worth.
This is what gives you the ability to not only survive self emotional abuse, but thrive in the very face of it. Remember that you can’t break free from an emotionally abusive relationship if you are barely scraping yourself together every day. If you need to start confronting abuse, please do it by reinforcing self-esteem.
It may seem easy to pump yourself up, as if you just need to give yourself a pep talk in the mirror once in a while. However, pep talks won’t leave a lasting impression if you’re not deeply connected to yourself. Imagine that you are a tree – if your roots are not deep enough into the earth, a fierce wind will rip you right out.
For myself and many others as well, finding yourself starts with contemplative activities such as mediation or yoga, which help to cultivate a strong alliance between the body and the mind. That kind of alliance is powerful fortification against the tempest of doing self emotional abuse.
Mediation, yoga, and tai chi are popular practices in many parts of the world, prized since ancient times for their near-mystical calming qualities. They can be done in the privacy of your home, but if you can, join a class with a group of other women. The emotional connection you’ll gain between yourself and others is an invaluable asset.
Emotional abuse doesn’t just take a toll on your body and mind; it can also deposit poisonous emotions like hatred, fear, anxiety and depression. Most of the time, talking about them skims the surface but doesn’t cut it all out. There may be things that you have trouble even coming to terms with, much less telling someone about. If you feel those emotions building up and weighing you down, get them out. Paint them, write them, sing them; whatever your instincts lead you to do.
Healing emotional abuse is hard enough because of external forces beyond your control. Don’t let your low self-esteem make it even harder!
IV.-When He Uses Your Faults Against You
You have probably already heard from an associate, friend, or resource that emotional abuse is about control. However, there are more factors at play than mere control, and realizing this is essential to healing emotional abuse and preserving your sense of self-worth.
When your partner attacks you, you may find that he will stoop to batter you with things you have shared with him in the past – doubts about yourself, vulnerabilities, and shortcomings. Though these intimate things may be true of you or your personality, perceived or real faults are a trait of every human being, and have no valid presence in fights. Be mindful that in emotional abuse, they are simply used as poisoned darts; items he throws mindlessly because they are in reach.
Why, then, does he throw these smoke bombs out to cloud the issues?
Consider the way you feel after a fight. Did he destroy your happiness for something you were feeling good about before? More often than not, we find that an abuser will target the things that are best about you so that he doesn’t feel threatened or one-upped. It’s almost like an upside-down compliment – the aspects he tries to make you feel bad about might be your best qualities!
Essentially that means that emotional abuse is actually an attempt to hide the abuser’s own vulnerabilities, the things he feels you could overcome him with.
Battering, whether it is emotional abuse, verbal abuse or physical abuse, exists to create or maintain an unequal distribution of power in the relationship. The important concept to recognize is that when an abuser feels he’s losing his grip (if it seems like you’re taking his power), the violence will escalate. In other words, the gravity of the emotional assault is directly proportional to the attacker’s vulnerability.
Thus, the act of emotional abuse is not merely about control, although that is how it seems to manifest. The real cause, the thing that control expresses, is a deep-set and debilitating sense of vulnerability.
Keep this in mind next time, and pay close attention to what he seems to react to. They may be your most powerful tools for stopping the abuse!
V.- Is Emotional Abuse Wrecking You?
From a forum about emotional abuse and domestic violence, a posting by Ann called my attention:
“First, I have not answered sooner, because my emotional and physical state have me in a daze. I’m terrified I am having a complete physical and mental collapse. I’m very shaky right now .. I’m scared not of him at this second … but that I I’m losing it altogether right now.
I have symptoms like: anger, rage, depression, shock, crying, depression/wish & wanting out … and then physically: sick to stomach, back aching, wish I could vomit, achy all over, shaky, unable to function … what is happening to me???? I need to STOP this now. I have to feel better. My mind is going in circles about what can I do.
My docs feel all my emotional problems (depression, anxiety, agoraphobia and physical ailments (the list is too long) are due to extreme stress. They say yes, you really suffer from major depression, but he made it much, much worse.
Maybe that is why no medication, of the hundreds I tried works. My stress and depression level can’t even be reached…”
And on and on Ann goes, describing the trap she is in: too sick to leave, no family support, isolated and unable to manage her own life. Have you ever been near this situation?
Living with an emotionally abusive person can make you doubt your own survival skills. Step by step, you begin denying and forgetting your own capacity to make yourself happy and healthy. Giving in to his pressure and negative images about you shapes your mindset, and changes your perspective about who you are, your worth as a person and of course, your life purpose.
Having to choose from being emotionally diminished by him and survival is tough: you feel like you have no options, and at the same time, you can’t leave!
You’re probably asking yourself, “What is left that I can do for myself?” If it becomes difficult to come up with an answer, you need help.
Exactly at this moment, you need a support system that can provide you with a vision of what is possible for you in order to survive.
Who is going to give you a strong inspiration to develop your own self-esteem? Who will help you recover a sense of “self-control” to manage your life? Let me help you start. Let’s have a free 30 minute chat. I want to help you get your life back!
You don’t have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Please, visit this page to ask for your coaching session.
VI.- Creating a new, more positive self-image day by day
Developing your self-image is a task that you need to do today! Nobody can replace you in this, and its time that you can see the huge difference it makes in your life having a positive self-image compared with the one your overly critical parents gave you…
How you see yourself goes a long way to how you feel about yourself; how do you present yourself to others and how others see you and think of you. If you think positively on the inside then you will glow with confidence on the outside and will come across this way to others. Feeling good about yourself is essential if you are to be happy in life and make the most out of life. It can make the difference of you being successful or failing, and it is in your hands.
People suffer from low self-esteem for many reasons, and if they have been brought up perceiving only negative aspects to themselves, then developing a positive self-image will be difficult, but not impossible. Developing a positive outlook is about changing your thoughts and feelings about yourself and if you have been thinking negative thoughts for a long time changing the habit will take some time.
However by creating a new way of thinking and sticking to this new way of self-perception you will eventually banish unwanted negative feelings and will automatically replace them with positive ones in your day to day life. When this happens your outlook changes and with your outlook, you change. Where once you might have thought something would be beyond your capabilities you will now look at it in a different light and begin to realize that having a strong personality is within your grasp.
There are many ways to develop a more positive self-image and esteem. There are self-help books available dedicated to the subject, audio sessions which you listen and follow, DVDS, hypnotherapy audio or attending coaching sessions. They all however rely basically on the same principle, understanding what confidence really is, gaining confidence in yourself, ridding yourself of negative beliefs and replacing them with positive ones and learning strategies which allow you to remain confident in any situation.
The basics behind developing a more positive outlook and self-image are:
• Thinking about the positive aspects of your self-image and understanding what they mean to you;
• Getting to know yourself better, recognizing your strengths and building on those strengths;
• Moving forward and constantly changing negative thoughts into more positive ones;
• Reflecting on what you have learned and seeing the positive changes you are making to your life, and feeling pride.
We all talk to ourselves at one time or another and we may find ourselves continually putting ourselves down and are very slow to praise ourselves. We are doing to ourselves the same nasty, discouraging lack of appreciation our parents did to us! This must be changed now. We want to change unhelpful self-talk and replace it with positive and encouraging self-talk.
The easiest way to do this is by:
• Getting rid of irrational thoughts (“I’m always the worst”) and replace them with rational ones
• Replace negative thoughts and feelings with positive images
• Give yourself credit and be proud of your accomplishments
• Repeat positive affirmations to yourself when needed throughout the day
You need to be consistent in replacing negative appreciations with positive ones….In this way, you will balance the weight of past critiques with appreciation and self-esteem, which in turn will make doing great things possible!
VI.- Hearing from the abuser himself: how does it feel to discover that you hurt your loved ones?
What happens when the abusive husband realizes that his behavior has been hurtful to the same people he loves? It doesn’t happen very frequently, but here we have a wonderful case taken from a good internet forum called: “Women’s emotional abuse support group:”
“I am an emotionally abusive husband… and I joined this group not for myself, but for my family and maybe anyone here that might want an abusive husband’s point of view on things. My wife and I have been married for almost 19 years, and we have had a difficult marriage.
Her son from her previous marriage had ADHD and other behavioral issues that was very difficult to deal with. Throughout our marriage I disagreed with the way she handled his behavior and I began to take out my frustration on her and her (our) son very early in the relationship. When I would get especially angry I would shut down and not talk to her for about a week. I was more verbally abusive towards our son and treated him like he was nothing. It got to the point several years ago where I would just up and leave when I was angry, not telling anyone where I was going or when I would be back or that I was even going. I made it clear to my wife that I didn’t think our marriage stood a chance after our children (we had two children together during this time) left the house. When I would calm down everything would be back to normal and what seemed like a loving relationship. I never apologized because I never believed that what I was doing was wrong. I thought that I was just dealing with things my own way.
Last year I was taking a class and the professor was discussing the role of men in society and how it is not accepted to show anything but anger and for some reason, something clicked. I realized over the next day or two that all the things that were wrong in my life, mainly my wife and older son, which I had completely blamed on them, was my fault. I talked to my wife a few days later and apologized for what I had done.
I talked to my son and apologized. I was put on antidepressants a month later because I was so devastated by what I had done and how I had treated my wife and son, and our two other children who I thought had been shielded by my actions. It has been almost a year since I heard the “pop” (the sound of my head coming out of my ass) and our marriage is still intact although we are still having a hard time coming to terms with what I have done. My perception on everything changed that one week and I haven’t been angry with my family or anyone else. I have a more positive attitude about everything. I love my family and I am doing everything I can to build my wife’s self esteem that I have destroyed over the years. I don’t know if I can offer any help to anyone, especially since I am the enemy. If the members of this group do not want me here, I understand completely and will quit the group. I am truly sorry for what I have done and I am truly sorry to all of you who have been betrayed by your husbands and boyfriends.”
And here is what “Marilyn,” one of the group’s members, answers to Rick:
Congratulations on the realization that you were an abusive husband/father. It takes a revelation to understand it and a big man to admit it.
Have you figured out what abusive behaviors you took on while you were in abuse mode? They are all about control. When you walked away or didn’t speak to them you were with holding normal affection and interaction. With holding is a really big form of control. This put ~you~ and only ~you~ in control of when others can talk to you… if only to discuss the school schedule of your children.
Then there was that feeling of entitlement. You were entitled to be angry, not speak to others and verbally abuse a child who had enough problems already.
I am sorry if I’m being hard here, but unless you realize that this type of behavior has names you can not recognize it if it happens again. It is just as hard to admit you did this as it is for a woman to admit that her husband has done this to her and that SHE ALLOWED IT…by not leaving the marriage. My realization that I allowed my husband to abuse me was the hardest thing for me to get over.
Now you have to deal with the repercussions of your family. 19 year of doing and one year of stopping. This one year is good. So how can you help your wife and children overcome the self esteem beatings you gave them?
I have a few ideas:
What does your wife love to do that in the past you were afraid of? I was a social butterfly and my ex made it uncomfortable for any of my friends to come around. This caused me to be isolated. Have you isolated your wife from friends and social activities that she may have enjoyed? If so encourage her to take part in them…WITHOUT YOU. Let her be herself with your blessings.
My bf helped me overcome the self esteem issues I had with my ex. He tells me all the time that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. Then he backs that up with “If you try your best and fail you’re still a winner for trying your best.” He encourages me in every business adventure I try.
What do they love to do? Can you encourage them to take part in those things….drive them there, be there while they learn.
I have ADD. It doesn’t go away with age. In my case I walk around in circles and have difficulty starting and finishing jobs. Can you help your son to focus?
There are many things you can do to undo the damage. Speak the truth. Tell them all how much you love them and how much you are proud of them, show it. This will go a long way in their being willing to open up to “trust” you again. Let them know they can trust you to tell them the truth… especially about how much you love them.
Encourage your wife and children to go to counseling without you. You can probably do with some good counseling too. Counseling helps us understand who we are, what our goals are and helps us to get there by helping us feel what we need to feel and do what we need to do.”
This is an extraordinary post! We rarely find the voice of the abuser. People use lots of defensive mechanism for ignoring or blinding themselves to the impact that their nasty behaviors can have on those around them. Of course, the reasons for the denial:
Having to acknowledge that you are not behaving in a loving, caring way and that you are doing emotional damage instead is a serious discovery that challenges a person’s self-esteem. Who am I, a person that can hurt those people he loves? This is such a painful discovery that a man like Rick went on anti-depressants after he realized how his actions had affected those around him.
If your partner came to this realization, how would you react?
VII.- Learn How to Stop All Abuse Now
Here’s a statistic that will grab your attention: According to the FBI, 1 in 4 girls are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Sexual abuse is a prevalent and ever-occurring social issue, and absolutely necessary to focus on. Here’s another one: According to Women’s College Hospital, in a study of 1,000 women 15 years of age or older, 36% experienced emotional abuse while growing up; 43% had experienced some form of abuse as children or adolescents; 39% reported experiencing emotional abuse in a relationship in the past five years. If sexual and emotional abuse are so prevalent among women of all ages, what can be done to stop it, and to heal it?
The truth is that however strong a victim may look on the outside, abuse leaves deep emotional scars that the victims themselves are unaware of. Those scars can affect anything from how one interacts with others to how one dresses to what one eats to how far one aims to go in life.
Here are some things you can do if you are being emotionally or sexually abused, or if you have been in the past:
Recognize the long lasting effects; don’t ignore them;
Educate yourself about the consequences of past abuse on your general health;
Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse (sometimes what “abuse” is can be hard to recognize)
Be patient with yourself; give yourself time to process emotional outbursts and icky situations (instead of pushing them away and blocking off your mind) so that they don’t create toxic energy in your mind.
You can also order your copy of in order to learn more tips and techniques that will help you grow your self-esteem, take hold of and accept your past, and even confront your abuser. You don’t have to live with abuse for a single day; nor do you have to suffer alone under the memory of it.
If you would prefer to have a private, one-on-one phone session with a conflict coach well-versed in handling emotional abuse, you can visit Conflict Coach to learn more about a free coaching session.