Signs of Emotionally Abusive Relationships

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    A lot of spouses I work with in counseling for men feel trapped. You might be surprised that men as well as women can feel this way.

    Emotional abuse is one of the top reasons husbands and wives feel trapped. Below are excerpts from the article Expert Advice on Surviving Abuse written by Steven Stosny, Ph.D. who appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. These are some of the signs you're in an emotionally abusive relationship. See if you can see yourself, or someone you know, in these descriptions:

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    • Anger in relationships is about blame: "I feel bad, and it's your fault." Even when he recognizes his anger, he'll blame it on you: "You push my buttons," or, "I might have overreacted, but I'm human, and look what you did!"
    • Angry and controlling husbands are very anxious by temperament. From the time they were young children, they've had a more or less constant sense of dread that things will go badly and they will fail to cope. So they try to control their environment to avoid that terrible feeling of failure and inadequacy. But the cause of their anxiety is with them, not in their environment.

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    • The sole purpose of your husband's anger and abusive behavior is to defend himself from feeling like a failure, especially as a: Protector, Provider, Lover, Parent.
    • Not all emotional abuse takes the form of shouting or criticism. More common forms are "stonewalling" and "disengaging." The man who stonewalls does not overtly put you down. Nevertheless, he punishes you for disagreeing with him by refusing to even think about your perspective.
    • The disengaging husband says, "Do whatever you want, just leave me alone." He is often a workaholic, couch potato, he may cheat or obsessive about things like Fantasy Football, sports or some other activity. He tries to deal with his inadequacy about relationships by just not trying.

    Verbal, emotional, mental and psychological abuse can be very sneaky and hard to spot, especially if you're the victim of spousal abuse. So glance over the above descriptions again -- can you see yourself, or someone you know, in these descriptions?

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    This is the first article of two examining emotional abuse. In the next article, How An Emotionally Abusive Relationship Traps You, we'll look at the affects on the victim of abuse. Sign-up for our blog at the bottom of this page and be sure you don't miss the next article.

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