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Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Marriage Killer

By HERWriter
 
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Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Marriage Killer Photo: Photospin - Auremar

Physical and verbal abuse are forms of “visible” abuse. Scars and bruises, raised voices and demeaning and hurtful words are signals to others that something is not quite right in the relationship. It’s also easier for a wife to see and recognize that’s she’s being abused.

Emotional abuse, however, is much more insidious and not quite as visible. Certainly, a wife’s self-esteem and spirit are battered along with her body in the case of physical and verbal abuse, but a husband can kill his wife’s spirit without even raising a hand or voice against her. For this reason, many women don’t even know they’re being abused, or if they do it’s a long and difficult battle not only to work to repair the damage done themselves, but to get the abuser to recognize the harm that he’s done.

What are the signs of mental abuse?

“Emotional abuse is any nonphysical behavior or attitude that controls, intimidates, subjugates, demeans, punishes or isolates another person by using degradation, humiliation or fear” (www.focusonthefamily.com).

“Nonphysical behavior or attitude” can safely be interpreted to mean neglect, invalidating another’s thoughts and feelings, and refusing to acknowledge the needs of the other (whether intentionally or not). Over a period of time, this kind of emotional climate in a marriage can squeeze the life out of a marriage and out of a wife.

There is a difference between experiencing or inflicting emotional hurt and being emotionally abusive—it is important to make this distinction. Abuse is a cycle. It is not a once-in-a-while event that happens and hurts someone else. In many “ordinary” hurtful cases, apologies can be offered if truly sincere and heal the rift that the hurt has caused. Many hurts are unintentional, and if they were, there is (hopefully) remorse on the part of the person who inflicted that hurt, once the anger, frustration, etc., calms down and cooler heads prevail. With emotional abuse there is none of this.

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EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

i have been with my husband for 8 years. we have had our fair share of good times but in between is so many bad. my husband every day accuses me of cheating on him every single day. with people at work people at the store anyone who comes in contact with me he even stoops to women. he has been physically abusive towards me not going to lie i try to fight back. he is just so much stronger.i have had to hide bruises on my face at work before feeling very ashamed. he is very controlling he needs to know where i am and what i am doing at all times if i dont answer him when i am at work as a nurse aide he will call my work. he breaks my things when he is mad all the time straightners movies things from my parents pours my perfume out breaks my lotion bottles. he controls all the money i have to tell him when i spending money and ask him to buy stuff even tampons i bought them because i needed them and i was screamed at because it was not on my list.. he disrespects me in public and private and even in front of the kids he calls me fat stupid ugly all kinds of things and now they talk to me so bad. and he says its my fault because i dont discipline them and i try but how can i when they are so young and they are only doing what they are taught. i cant have any friends at all i had best friends when i was younger and i have to cut them off because they know my ex. but all his friends he can have including one who cheats on his girlfriend and one who slaps his girlfriend to the floor mind you he is like 6"5 and she is like 5 ft .i cant go see my family with out asking and he usually tells me no i cant go see them anyways so i just give up on making plans with anyone and just make excuses. i am so depressed and i feel like i cant go on like this in life anymore. i dont know what to do. i am a christian and in the bible the only reason god permits you to leave your husband is infidelity. so its making it hard for me to leave but i cant help but feel God didnt plan this horrible life for me. i am a good person and i havent done anything so bad in life to deserve this and i cant help but feel itsmy fault for all of this. and as crazy as it sounds i do love my husband i couldnt picture my life with out him or another man with me. i dont know if its like stockholm syndrome or what but i hate this so bad and i am so tired of being miserable.

July 18, 2017 - 3:49am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I'm not sure I'm in a mentally abusive situation either, and if I am, there isn't much I can do about it...honestly...and he knows it. My husband admits that he controls certain situations for the good of our marriage and 5 children. I mean there is so much through the last 10 yrs. that seems off or unfair and I could probably write pages about it all. There again, he is a great provider. And he's not always mean or rude...everything is usually fine as long as he gets what he wants when he wants it and how he wants it. I never know what kind of mood he's going to be in and I feel like there is a lot of "do as I say do not as I do." Anyway, we split up once and he was so sweet. Cards and flowers everyday, he looked miserable. Of course I went back and it was months of mental and emotional torture. Now, I have no family to back me up or take me in, no smart phone, no internet in the house, 5 kids and a lot of mutual debt, living in rural redneck USA where everyone knows everyone. I work but not for much money...what can I really do?

June 26, 2017 - 6:41pm

Nice Information ..

June 22, 2017 - 10:44pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

My husband and I have been married for 11 years, we have two children at home. I am at my wits end with him, all we is fight. Everything is my fault....I can not do anything right. I don't know how to cook,I don't know how to clean. Aside from our children that have chores, I am the only one that cleans, I do all the shopping, pay the bills, work full time, I am in school full time. He doesn't take part in taking care of the kids. If we are having a disagreement he will start yelling at me, I ask.. why are you yelling. His response is your p&**$#@ me off. He never says he is sorry, he refuses to admit when he wrong. I just do not know how much more I can take.

June 20, 2017 - 11:50am
(reply to Anonymous)

So you know that everything cannot be your fault right? So it sure seems that now is the time for you to take back your power and figure this out - find a therapist and focus on what you can do to better manage your life & your world. It can be super hard to find your voice, but you can do it - look at all you are doing now! Your soul is crying for some help, as Oprah says 'listen to the whispers' and find your path. Therapy will give you tools and insights that will help with next steps....Sending hugs:))

June 22, 2017 - 1:12pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to kimromancorle)

You are right, I have been doing a lot of reading about emotional abuse and how it can sneak up on you. My marriage fits the criteria, we have been together for so long and it just became normal, but now that our daughter is older and he is doing the same thing to her and it effects her. My eyes are wide open now.

June 23, 2017 - 5:42am
(reply to Anonymous)

You are brave. Step by step, bit by bit, moment by moment, thought by thought you will change your life...We are all with you:))

June 23, 2017 - 6:53am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I kept silent from my abusive husband n cheating husband because of my son....recently because of these. I got stroke. And ending with paralyse .if I divorced long time ago I ll never happen like this I feel sorry all my life. Now I want divorce but hard for me to go to all kinds of court n money people because lawyers are costly in New York. Anybody can help me

June 17, 2017 - 2:42am
(reply to Anonymous)

There are numerous social services offices in NY that can help you with advice, guidance and next steps. No time like the present to take back your power and move on, abuse will continue and you have a chance to change the tide. Take it and move forward - you can do this, and you will celebrate all that you are with every step of empowerment. Hugs to you:)

June 18, 2017 - 9:11am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I don't know where to start because I don't even know if I'm being emotionally abused. I just know that the way I'm being treated is wrong. I feel sad, exhausted and emotionally drained. We've been fighting a lot recently and I endured lots of "silence treatments", lots of dismissals. If wasn't for the kids I wouldn't even talk to him or address him because sometimes he doesn't even care to answer, it's like I don't exist. I know he's doing it to make a point or to punish me of my wrongdoings and I know it's wrong. I remember once we had a fight and I had to go out and buy something, he hid the car key to punish me, so would walk in the rain. Our recent fight was about sex, we just had a baby and I'm constantly tired, I do my best in this area but most of the time I find myself sleeping before I can even lay my head on the pillow. I feel so guilty about it. I blame myself a lot, mostly for not further my education. I feel like I don't bring a lot to the table. I'm being constantly criticized and feel I'm not doing anything right. I'm at the lowest point in my life. I feel hopeless and powerless.

May 25, 2017 - 11:51am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.