The common understanding of domestic abuse is one-dimensional. Most people acknowledge that physically assaulting or threatening violence against a romantic partner is abusive. However, for many, that is the extent of what counts as abuse.
This is a problem because physical harm is just one aspect of the true extent of domestic violence. There are a wide variety of behaviors that are considered abusive that aren’t often portrayed in the media. While these actions may not leave physical marks, they can still cause severe distress and leave you feeling trapped with your abuser.
If you’ve ever wondered, “Am I being abused?” You are likely in an unhealthy relationship. You do not need a further excuse to end your marriage. Still, if you’re unsure whether your spouse is harming you, consider if they regularly commit any of the following four overlooked abusive behaviors. If so, it strongly indicates that your relationship is no longer good for you, and you should consider leaving.
1. Insinuating Your Friends and Family Are Bad
One of the most basic traits of an abusive partner is an attempt to isolate you. If you do not have strong connections with friends, family, or community, you are less likely to feel like you can leave your partner. This allows your abuser to retain control over you more effectively.
The most common way abusers will do this is by encouraging you to cut off contact with your loved ones. This often happens slowly over time. It may start with a few comments about your casual acquaintances, but it will eventually spread to close friends and family. They may tell you things like:
- Your loved ones don’t actually like you.
- They insult you behind your back.
- They are “bad influences” or trying to “draw you down.”
- They are just hanging around to get something from you.
- The only person who really loves and cares about you is your abuser.
While your partner disliking one or two members of your social circle is not cause for concern, it shouldn’t become a pattern. If you notice that you are shrinking the number of people you spend time with for your spouse or that you only feel like you “have permission” to socialize with your spouse’s friends, you may be isolated.
2. Embarrassing You in Front of Others
In addition to encouraging you to cut off others, many abusers will try to make you feel uncomfortable around other people. One way they do this is by humiliating you in public. This can include:
- Making embarrassing “jokes” about you.
- Begging you to wear clothing you don’t like, then making fun of your outfit when you arrive.
- Telling stories about you that make you feel ashamed.
- Insulting you “as a joke.”
- Purposefully doing things that rob you of your dignity.
- Forcing you to attend events that make you uncomfortable or insecure.
The goal of this behavior is to make you the butt of the joke and get everyone else to laugh at you. Not only does it make you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, but it can also make you believe that everyone will treat you poorly. As a result, you’ll feel less inclined to trust others, making leaving feel more difficult.
3. Tearing You Down
Strong self-esteem makes someone harder to abuse. People confident about themselves and their abilities are significantly more likely to walk away if an abuser tries to take advantage of them. Many abusers will work to undermine your confidence and self-esteem to make you feel like you “don’t deserve” better treatment. This can include:
- Questioning your everyday choices
- Making fun of you for little things, like burning food or tripping.
- Insulting your preferences or things you love.
- Suggesting you’re a bad person because of inconsequential things like forgetting to say good morning.
This behavior usually starts with mild teasing that goes a little too far, but it often intensifies over time until your spouse actively insults you.
In addition, this behavior has a convenient side effect for the abuser. Not only does it harm your self-worth, but it also makes the abuser feel better about themselves at the same time. The worse they make you feel, the more superior they feel.
4. Making You Think You’re “Crazy
As insulting and belittling behavior escalates, it frequently turns into gaslighting. This is the act of making you feel like you’re going crazy by forcing you to second-guess everything you do. Most abusers constantly need to “win” situations and cannot accept when they’re wrong. They take this out on their victims by outright lying about past events until the victim feels like they can’t trust themselves.
For example, suppose your spouse asked you to purchase tickets to an event at 7 pm. You buy the tickets, but in the meantime, your spouse decides they want to go at 2 pm instead. When you give them the tickets, they get mad and yell at you about buying the wrong tickets, even though you did exactly as they asked.
If things like this happen often enough and you don’t have a social circle or strong self-confidence, you will start to doubt yourself. You’ll feel reliant on your spouse to help you do things “right” and not “forget” anything, even though you’ve been doing the best you can with available information the entire time.
Care for Yourself by Ending Your Abusive Marriage
If any of the above spousal abuse examples sound familiar, your marriage is likely no longer healthy. Even if your spouse is not actively abusing you, they still behave in ways that harm you and ignore your needs. That is all the reason you need to end your marriage. If you decide it’s time to get a divorce, you don’t have to go it alone. At The Hache Law Firm, P.A., we specialize in helping our clients leave unhealthy and unsafe family situations for good. Our skilled abuse and divorce attorneys will help you end your marriage quickly, efficiently, and safely. Schedule your consultation today to learn more about how we can help you.