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Subtle Signs of Emotional Abuse

5 Subtle Signs of Emotional Abuse You Didn’t Know About

Emotional abuse can often be insidious, creeping into relationships in ways that aren’t immediately recognizable. It can leave victims feeling suffocated, anxious, and trapped in a cycle of expectation and disapproval. Dr. David Hawkins, Director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute, sheds light on five subtle signs of emotional abuse that many may not be aware of.

Walking on Eggshells: The Anxiety Symptom

Do you find yourself walking on eggshells? Do you feel constricted, anxious, and uncertain about whether you’ll receive approval or disapproval? These feelings are significant indicators of emotional abuse. The constant fear of not meeting expectations or facing criticism creates a toxic environment where individuals feel suffocated by the weight of their partner’s demands.

Recognizing these symptoms is the first step towards addressing the problem. Acknowledging the presence of anxiety signals a problem that needs to be addressed. It’s crucial not to dismiss these feelings but to confront them head-on to initiate positive change.

Tiptoeing Around Entitlement: The Narcissist’s Belief

Emotional abusers often exhibit a sense of entitlement, believing they have the right to dictate what should and should not happen in a relationship. Dr. Hawkins refers to this behavior as the “Narcissist’s Belief,” where individuals assert dominance and control over their partners’ lives. They may rationalize their actions as being for the greater good or based on their superior knowledge and intellect.

Being subjected to a partner’s entitled behavior can make individuals feel small and insignificant, as if their opinions and needs don’t matter. It creates an unhealthy power dynamic where one person’s desires consistently overshadow the other’s, leading to emotional turmoil and distress.

Caught in a Parent-Child Dynamic

A telltale sign of emotional abuse is when one partner adopts a parent-child dynamic, constantly criticizing, admonishing, or micromanaging the other’s actions. Dr. Hawkins highlights the significance of feeling like a child in the presence of a partner, where every move is scrutinized, and obedience is expected.

This dynamic can be deeply damaging, eroding the victim’s sense of autonomy and self-worth. It perpetuates a cycle of dependency and control, where the abuser maintains authority by undermining their partner’s confidence and agency.

Disrupting the Cycle

Breaking free from the cycle of emotional abuse requires disruption. It is very important to confront the abuser and set boundaries to reclaim autonomy and emotional wellbeing. This may involve seeking counseling or professional intervention to facilitate constructive communication and initiate meaningful change.

While confronting the abuser may seem daunting, it’s essential to prioritize one’s mental and emotional health. Change won’t happen overnight and may require significant effort and support. However, by refusing to perpetuate the cycle of abuse, individuals can pave the way for a healthier, more equitable relationship.

Seeking Expert Guidance

Finally, it is important to seek expert guidance when navigating emotional abuse. Whether through individual therapy, couples counseling, or support groups, it’s crucial to enlist the help of professionals who understand the complexities of narcissism and emotional abuse.

By arming oneself with knowledge and support, individuals can empower themselves to break free from the suffocating grip of emotional abuse. Victims should prioritize their well-being and take proactive steps towards healing and recovery.

Subtle Signs of Emotional Abuse

In conclusion, emotional abuse often manifests in subtle ways that may go unnoticed or overlooked. By recognizing the signs and seeking support, individuals can reclaim their autonomy and break free from the cycle of suffocating expectations and control. Dr. Hawkins’ insights shed light on the importance of confronting emotional abuse and prioritizing one’s mental and emotional health in relationships.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: How to Know If It Is Emotional Abuse

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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