An emotionally abusive relationship can be just as damaging as a physically abusive one, but it can also be more difficult to identify. You’re likely to stay longer with someone who’s abusing you in a more subtle way, so it’s important to recognize the signs of emotional abuse, as this will help you to get away from a toxic partner sooner rather than later.
In today’s topic, we are going to be talking about some of the top signs that could indicate that someone has been mentally abused. There might be some variance between men and women, regarding these behaviors, but I don’t think it’s enough to be really that significant.
So, we’re going to be including both men and women for today’s article, and some of these actually might surprise you. So, be sure to read until the end.
Below are some of the top signs and behaviors that someone might exhibit if they have been subjected to some pretty severe mental abuse.
Number 1: They apologize constantly.
They apologize when they haven’t even done anything to apologize for. I used to do this all the time and was unaware of it until some people pointed it out to me. It was as if I had to apologize just because of my presence.
Another part of this is let’s say something went wrong at work, for example. I would immediately think it must have been me; I screwed up somewhere and whatever the problem is, it’ll be my fault.
Number 2: They can have a very exaggerated and dramatic startle reflex.
For example, if someone is behind them and they don’t see them and that person gently bumps into the mentally abused person, many times that will startle them like gasping for air startle.
Again, I used to do this all the time and this is from an overworked nervous system. The type of startle reflex happens because the person has been living in fight-flight survival mode, so the littlest things can frighten and scare us until we realize everything is okay and there isn’t anything to be alarmed about.
Number 3: The person will need constant and continual validation and reassurance.
Mentally abused people have been psychologically abused; meaning they have been gaslighted usually for years. So their perceptions have been tampered with, and they are very insecure about everything that has to do with them.
For example, they might say things like: “Are you sure that I look okay in this outfit”. Or, “do you really think the dinner that I cooked was good, things of this nature”. They need reassurance that they are interpreting reality correctly.
Number 4: The mentally abused person won’t believe that they are beautiful or handsome.
Usually, these people have had all aspects of themselves belittled criticized, and made fun of, and degrading their looks is usually a part of what they have lived through. So, no matter how beautiful the woman might be, or how handsome the man might be, they will have extreme difficulty believing that is true.
You may also want to read this:
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Number 5: This person will completely break down over minor fights or disagreements.
One of the reasons this happens is because any time that person’s parent was mad at them when they were a child, they got into a tremendous amount of trouble, and typically, the crime never fit the punishment. So, when someone is talking in a more aggressive or angry tone with the mentally abused person; this subconsciously takes them back to a time when they were a child and got into trouble with their abusive parent.
Many times, mentally abused people will have a very real fear of any person in an authoritative position, especially if they get a little upset about something; this can be a major trigger for people who have been mentally abused.
Number 6: This person will say thank you (over and over) if someone does something nice for them.
Usually, this person will not have much experience with anyone doing something nice for them. So, when someone does, it can be a bit of a shock and unfortunately, usually, the abused person will not feel that they are worthy of the gift. They can almost look like they are in a state of shock, they just can’t believe someone did something nice for them so they say thank you many many times.
Recommended: Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse.
Number 7: Difficulties in making decisions.
This person usually will have a very difficult time making decisions, having to make even the simplest of decisions can be terrifying to this person. They are terrified that they will make the wrong decision or that other people won’t agree with their decisions, or that they will be made fun of because of their decision. Because the mentally abused person has been teased, taunted, humiliated, degraded, and insulted in a million times through the years, so they are very uneasy about making decisions.
You may also want to read this:
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Number 8: The mentally abused person can get angry or frustrated pretty easily.
It’s important to understand that trauma shows up and reveals itself as a reaction, and sometimes those reactions can look pretty intense. Also, people who are being exposed to abuse for long periods of time, usually years or decades, are living in fight-flight survival mode, and when a human being is in this state, the brain is solely focused on survival.
When we are in this state, we cannot even access the logical part of our brain, so our reactions can seem pretty intense or out of proportion. So please, keep that in mind if you have a loved one who has been mentally abused.
A Book: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.
Number 9: The person usually approaches things from a defensive perspective.
They can start getting defensive even when there isn’t any real reason to feel defensive, and again, that is because they have lived in an environment where they have had to constantly be on guard, constantly be ready to defend themselves against absolutely anything. So, they become accustomed to feeling this way.
Number 10: The person will have an overall negative outlook about themselves and the world.
They tend to be pretty pessimistic about the future and what they will do or be able to do in the future. Sometimes you might refer to someone like this as a Debbie downer. But that’s only because this person has been abused and likely doesn’t see a way out.
Read More: 10 Mental Illnesses You Get From Narcissists.
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