Once upon a time, you’ve met this man who has offered you the world, has treated you like a princess so you’ve fallen in love, have gotten married, and not long after, you find yourself a prisoner in your own home. Sounds cliché but the bitter fact is that this isn’t an uncommon situation. It happens in real life, not just in movies or television dramas or tragic novels.
This is one of the many faces of domestic violence and unfortunately, it is not usually considered a criminal behavior. There is still a possibility, however, that emotional, psychological, and even financial abuse may result in unlawful assault.
Why Psychological Abuse Happens
If you are trapped in an abusive and oppressive relationship, you may start asking why this is happening to you and why your husband is doing it. “It’s a sad reminder that what starts out with intimacy and love can become ugly and tragic,” according to Joni E Johnston Psy.D.
Jealousy and mistrust are the common triggers but the root cause varies and is often psychological. “In relationships, it’s normal for people to experience some amount of jealousy. However, abusers mistake the feeling of jealousy as a sign of love, which strengthens their acts of excessive possessiveness,” says Brook Sprowl, LCSW. Some men may have low self-esteem or are wrapped within a great deal of insecurity that they fear their wives might realize they are unworthy and might leave them so they use manipulation and threats as their shield and weapon.
Some are probably haunted by a traumatic experience in the past that causes fear of rejection or abandonment. It is also possible that some men are victims of abuse themselves and their actions are a reflection of how they have been treated.
How to Recognize Psychological Abuse
Early signs may include doubt or mistrust. Your partner may start asking you for details of what you have done for the day, where you have gone or who you have been with. Then threats and intimidation come right after where your partner may start requiring you to ask permission whenever you leave the house or may even demand you to stay at home. It won’t be long before you will be literally locked inside your house and will be isolated from everyone, even from friends and relatives.
There are different manifestations of psychological and emotional abuse. Name-calling or emotional bullying, throwing insults, threatening, humiliating, mocking, isolating and ignoring the person are some of the signs that abuse is present. This doesn’t only happen between married couples or two people in a relationship. It can also arise between parent or caregiver and child, between siblings, friends or acquaintances, between a teacher and a student.
What to Do
Once you recognize the signs and they are aimed at you, seek help and inform someone. You may also try to confront your abuser but you have to be extremely cautious, especially when you have no knowledge whether the person is mentally unstable or not.
Oftentimes, abuse only worsens if you allow it. “It can be extremely difficult for a victim of domestic violence to acknowledge that abuse is taking place, especially when it’s not physical abuse but rather emotional or psychological,” says psychiatrist Toby D. Goldsmith, MD. If you inevitably sink knee-deep further into a rabbit hole of this abusive process and find yourself in a situation where you’re stripped off of freedom, don’t give up. Be mindful of any window of opportunity to escape from your prison and when you find it, flee. Some abusers still allow their partners access outside their home under their watchful eyes. This may provide a chance for you to break free.
If you find yourself at the center of psychological or emotional abuse, never think that you deserve it. No one does. Do not blame yourself either. It is not and shouldn’t be your fault. Saying you have to be strong may be easier said than done but that is what you need to do to take control of your life once more.