How to leave an emotionally abusive marriage
Physical abuse is an obvious type of abuse, but emotionally abuse is just as dangerous, and it is harder to identify. Emotional, or psychological, abuse is manipulative, and the behaviors are often subtle, so it may take awhile for someone to recognize it is happening.
There are certain signs one can use to identify this type of abuse. Once recognized, it is important that the spouse takes steps to get out of the marriage in a safe manner.
Signs of emotional abuse
According to PsychCentral, with emotional abuse, the abuser uses threats and manipulation to control the victim. Overtime, this abuse leads to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and lowered self-esteem. A common form of abuse is gaslighting, in which the abuser presents misleading information to make the victim question his or her perception and memory. The abuser also uses criticism to break down the victim. Some signs of abuse are
- Unjustified jealousy, including constant texting or calling
- Withdrawal of affection or money
- Sarcasm, mean jokes or incessant insults
- Dominating and controlling behavior
- Isolating victim from family and friends
- Guilt trips
Unfortunately, there are very few instances in which an emotional abuser changes for the better, so it is important to take steps to get out of the relationship.
Steps to leave marriage
Psychology Today offers some tips to help someone get out of a toxic relationship. Unfortunately, psychological abuse can lead to physical abuse, so the priority is to avoid escalation. Document all abusive behavior, and seek out a support system. If necessary, involve law enforcement.
One should prepare financially and make short- and long-term plans. Although it may be difficult, reach out to family and friends and be honest and open about what is happening. Ask for help from trusted people, and lean on them when there are thoughts of going back to the abuser.
An abuser needs to remain control, so hire legal help to protect your needs and interests. It also helps to seek help in the form of therapy or group counseling to gain back self-esteem.