Specialists answer

TYPES OF EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Written by Sensiblu Foundation

1. Relationships where one of the partners is abusive and the other one is not

When we usually talk about emotional abuse, we refer to this kind of relationship. In the situation where only one of the partners is abusive, most of the times the abused partner is not aware of the abuse or is trying to make the other partner stop the abuse. The abused partner can accept the aggression because of being scared of leaving the relationship, because of the fact that he/she feels it deserves to be abused or because love feelings that prevent him/her from leaving their abusing partners. The only way in which the victim can contribute to the abuse is having too of an understanding attitude. 

 
B. Engel (The Emotionally Abusive Relationships, 2002) is defining this type of a relationship like this:
- one of the partners has gotten used to excuse the maliciousness and lack of respect from the other partner
- one of the partners is made to believe that he/she is always wrong and cannot trust is own perceptions, opinions, reactions and feelings
- one of the partners is blaming himself/herself everytime a problem occurs in the relationship
- the abusive partner will never take responsibility for a problem that occurred in the relationship.
 
2. Relationships where one of the partners is abusing the other and the latter decides to take revenge
 
In this situation, one of the partners starts abusing the other, but the second starts an abusive behavior too as a self-defense form the painful words or from the firsts behavior. The abused partner can take a revenge on the aggressor immediately or even after a few years of tolerating the abuse. M. Loring (Emotional Abuse, 1994) considers that this relationship can usually develop when one of the partners loves the other one and tries to do anything possible to please, but only gets back disapproval, emotional coldness and rejection. After a while, these people feel hurt and become distant, and they end up using humiliating words and insults towards their partner. 
 
3. The two partners are progressively abusing each other, from the beginning of the relationship
 
In this type of relationship the two partners are abusing each other from the beginning of their relationship. Mostly, the abuse is mutually accepted and the level of aggression is somewhat equal. 
 
B. Engel (The Emotionally Abusive Relationships, 2002) says that this kind of relationship is characterized by:
- both partners use sarcasm, critics and they address sharp comments to each other
- both partners are reproaching failures and mistakes from the past
- they blame one another for their own life and relationship problems
- each one of the partners is trying to make the other jealous by flirting or by saying how attractive someone else is
- each one of them is frequently complaining about the other’s behavior
- they punish one another with indifference and emotional coldness
- both partners are in competition between themselves, who’s the smartest one, who’s the most accomplished or attractive
- each one uses the other’s helplessness and insecurity
- they’re trying to isolate one another from family and friends
 
4. Relationships where is not clear who is abusing who
 
In a relationship between two people is not always clear who the abuser is and who is being abused. There are abusive partners who make their critics using a disguise and arrange situations in their favor, in a deliberate way and they determine their partners to doubt their own perceptions and their own mental health (Mason, P. , Kreger, R. , Stop Walking on Eggshells, 1998).
 
Often, one of the partners is keen in observing the abusive emotional behavior of the partners and cannot see the damage made to oneself through his/her behavior. This is typical to those who suffer from the borderline personality disorder, they see themselves as helpless victims even if in fact, they are affected by their own behavior.
M. Loring (Emotional Abuse, 1994) says that those who get involved in this kind of relationships are people who have been emotionally abused before and who see themselves as victims, although they in fact the abusers. This fact is explained in three ways:
 
- people who have been emotionally abused in childhood (especially those who have been rejected or abandoned, physically or emotionally by one or both parents) they are very sensitive to any kind of rejection from other people. 
 
- people who have been emotionally abused in childhood or in previous relationships, especially those excessively controlled or emotionally suffocated. They are very sensitive to any form of control from the partner’s side, even if they are controlling as well. For this category of people even the simplest commitment becomes emotionally suffocating, so they need to continuously create chaos in their relationship so they can feel free.
 
- one of the most frequent results of repeated emotional abuse on an individual is hypersensitivity. People who have been emotionally abused in the past have developed a system through which any kind of comment or action from the outside is perceived as being negative. 
Because of the fact that they are used of being criticized, disapproved and negatively judged, they act accordingly. 
 
5. Relationships where one of the partners is turning the other in an abuser
 
In this type of relationships, sometimes, one of the partners is deliberately making the other lose control and become an abuser. Other times, unconsciously, by lack of respect and inappropriate behavior towards the other partner, will exasperate the later and make it lose control (Mason, P. , Kreger, R. , Stop Walking on Eggshells, 1998).
 
6. One or both partners have an abusive personality
 
The abusive personality is characterized by:
- the wish to control and dominate others
- the tendency to blame others for their own problems and to release their frustrations on other people
- verbal abuse
- uncontrolled emotional and physical outbursts
- an overwhelming need to take revenge and to make the others suffer for real and imaginary insults 
Individuals with an abusive personality insist in always being respected but they don’t respect anyone, their needs are very important but they cannot see other people’s needs. 
In a relationship where a person with an abusive personality is involved, nothing can be done in order to prevent the abuse.