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Understanding the definition and damage of emotional abuse

As you know, abusive relationships are very difficult to get out of. You may have been unhappy in your marriage for years but decided to stay in it for the sake of the children or because you made a promise to stick with your spouse no matter what. Because your spouse has never hit you, you might even be unsure whether his or her behavior qualifies as abuse. It is important for you and other Nebraska residents to understand the difference between two otherwise emotionally healthy people who happen to be unhappy together, and a marriage that is emotionally or verbally abusive.

Emotional abuse can be extremely difficult to recognize, points out the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Many people falsely believe that if an alleged abuser has never physically struck a partner, he or she is not abusive. However, nonphysical abuse can take many forms, including verbal, psychological and financial abuse. Emotional abuse can impact your self-esteem for years, and the harmful effects can be passed down to your children.

How do you know if you are in an emotionally abusive marriage? The following examples may help you sort out a confusing situation:

  • You constantly feel like you are walking on eggshells – that the slightest insult or misstep can set your spouse off.
  • Your partner is always demeaning, insulting and belittling you alone or in front of others.
  • Your spouse isolates you from friends and family, controls your money and limits your time on social media or the phone.
  • Your spouse is always telling you that you are crazy or that your suspicions of abuse are only in your head.
  • Instead of handling a disagreement with maturity, your partner yells, throws a tantrum or refuses to compromise.

As with most abusive people, the goal of an emotional abuser is to undermine your self-worth to the point where you are completely dependent on him or her. An emotional abuser’s temper may also become so volatile that the abuse can turn physical without warning. You have allies, including law enforcement, counselors and family law attorneys with experience in domestic violence cases, to help you untangle the webs tying you to your abuser.

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