The first step for those who are emotionally abused is to acknowledge that it is happening. If you notice any of the signs of emotional abuse in your relationship, you need to be honest with yourself so that you can regain power over your own life, stop the abuse, and begin healing.
For those who underestimate, deny and hide emotional abuse, this can be a painful and frightening first step. Because the stress of emotional abuse will eventually catch up with you in the form of illness, emotional trauma, depression, or anxiety.
Such behaviors simply cannot be allowed to continue, even if that means ending the relationship. A licensed counselor who trains in abusive relationships can help you move from the pain and fears of leaving the relationship and work with you to rebuild your confidence.
What quick measures can you take to undo a harmful relationship?
Here are some strategies to regain your power and self-esteem in the short term:
Put your own needs first, and stop worrying about pleasing or protecting the abuser. Take care of yourself and your needs, and let the other person feel anxious about themselves – even when they are crying out or trying to manipulate you and control your behavior.
Set some fixed boundaries: Tell your abuser not to call you invented names anymore, to not be rude to you, or to yell at you, and that you will not tolerate that anymore.
If another abusive behavior occurs, tell him that you will not tolerate it and will not allow it to happen again and if necessary leave him the room or the entire house and go to your family or the home of one of your friends.
Don’t engage: If your abuser tries to get into a fight or win an argument against you, don’t engage in anger, over-explain yourself, or apologize for trying to calm him down. Just keep calm and walk away.
Realize that you will not be able to fix them: you cannot make this person change or find a path into their heart and mind.
They just want to change and acknowledge the damaging effect of their behavior and words.
You will feel worse about yourself and your situation through repeated “interventions” with him.
Remember that you are not blamed: If you’ve been in an abusive relationship for a while, it can make you crazy, as you start to feel as though something is wrong with your personality because your partner is treating you so badly.
So start admitting to yourself that it’s not your fault. This is the first step towards rebuilding self-confidence.
Find support: Talk to your family, trusted friends, or counselor about what you’ve been going through.
Stay away from the abusive person as much as possible, and spend time with those who love and support you, as this system will help you overcome the feeling of loneliness and isolation after cutting off from the offending person.
Create an exit plan: You cannot stay in an emotionally abusive relationship forever. If funding, children, or some other valid reason is preventing you from leaving now,
Make a plan to get out as soon as possible, by starting to save money, looking for a place to live, or planning a divorce if necessary so that you can feel in control and empowerment in your life.
Can the emotional abuser be changed?
It is possible if the abuser deeply desires change after admitting to the abusive patterns and the damage they have caused.
However, it is very difficult to change the behaviors, feelings of entitlement, and privileges that the abuser feels, the aggressors derive the strength they feel from emotional abuse, and as a result, a very low percentage of abusers can change themselves.
But if the emotional abuser in your relationship is not interested in changing himself, and you are not in a position to leave the relationship at the moment, here are some strategies for restoring your power and self-esteem in the short term:
- Fully acknowledge what they did.
- Stop excuses and blame.
- Make adjustments.
- Accept responsibility and acknowledge that emotional abuse is a choice.
- Determine the behavioral patterns they use.
- Identify situations that lead them to abuse.
- Accept that coping with abuse is a decades-long process – hard to heal.
- Don’t feel grateful to them for the improvements they’ve made.
- Not treating improvements as coupons to be spent on occasional acts of abuse (eg, “I haven’t done anything like that in a long time, that’s no big deal).
- Develop supportive, respectful behaviors in the relationship.
- Change how you respond to your partner in receiving anger and grievances.
- Change how you act in hot conflicts.
- Accepting the consequences of their actions (including not feeling sorry for themselves about the consequences, and not blaming their partner or children).