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11 Signs of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

11 Signs of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Emotionally abusive relationships cause untold pain and stress on both our bodies and our minds. But how do we know what one looks like?  

 

 

“It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.”
― Aisha Mirza

 

Emotional abuse doesn’t start from day one. There is that lovely first stage when they are wonderful, everything you have ever wanted.  It seems you both want the same things out of life and yes, things move fast, but when it’s right it’s right. Right?

 

Sadly, that initial rush of excitement is often a chemical response and once you settle into a steady relationship, those exciting chemicals are replaced with calmer but more long lasting ones such as Oxycontin – the love drug.

 

Healthy relationships can thrive with this change.  Both parties feel secure and comfortable and are excited by the future.

 

Emotionally abusive relationships however can flounder at this point because the abuser craves the high of the start of the relationship and so they can change almost overnight.

 

Sometimes the arrival of a child can be the catalyst.  Suddenly they aren’t the centre of attention any more and this creates anxiety in them and they feel rejected.  Or they can become obsessed with the child and push you away. This can result in anger, resentment and even a breakup.

 

In both cases the other party, you, is left wondering where the great person they originally met went to.

 

For those who stick at the relationship, an insidious type of abuse can emerge.  Physical abuse is more overt and victims recognise it as unhealthy even when they aren’t in a position to leave.  But covert, emotional and psychological abuse is less easy to recognise and victims can stay for years before the realisation occurs.

 

This article will provide you with 11 signs of an emotionally abusive relationship with the hope to at least give you the awareness of what is going on.

 

11 Signs of a Emotional Abuse

 

  1. There is a lack of an emotional connection

    You never turn to each other for emotional support. You look to other people first. Or you have to mind read their emotions and put yours in a box. Certain personality types, including narcissists, are emotionally unavailable and can struggle with not just their own but also with their partners emotions.  This can lead to outbursts of either rage or silence as they become overwhelmed. They will also belittle or ignore your emotions and your emotional needs leaving you feeling lonely and unheard
  2. One person is dominant in the relationship

    They control everything.  The money. The decisions. The child care.  And they refuse to listen to your opinion. They send a very clear message that they know best and a subtle message that you are unable/incapable of doing anything.

    Or they set you up to fail by giving you all the control but constantly belittling you for your “mistakes”. They refuse to do anything and you often feel like you are parenting them.  Either way, their personality is dominant and everyone knows where the power lies.


    In family systems theory this is known as differentiation of self and all family members lose their own identity and become almost cult like in their following of the leader.
  3. You don’t have a sense of relationship security

    All relationships go through tough times but healthy individuals stay and work things out or end it to work on themselves.  Emotionally insecure people threaten to leave regularly so you feel like you have a noose around your neck all the time. This is another aspect of control and power over you.

    They want you to know the consequences of disagreeing with them or not adhering to their requests in any way.

  4. You are experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, PTSD or substance abuse issues.  It is toxic stress and can be really damaging to your whole body
  5. Your partner is defining your reality by saying one thing and then denying it.  This is known as gaslighting and is psychological manipulation, a tactic often used by narcissists.
  6. They are extremely jealous and want to know where you are and who you are with constantly.  They don’t trust you to go to the shops and make constant accusations, some subtly, some outright. This is designed to isolate you and for them to maintain control of you
  7. They “surprise” you with changes to plans you already made under the guise of it being special, or better.  Really this is coercive and covert control.
  8. You feel sorry for them even though they are hurting you.  You blame it on stress, money, work – anything you can think of.  The reality is you care more about them than you do about yourself.
  9. They keep mentioning another person’s name but claims they are just friends

    Triangulation is a very powerful tool in creating jealousy and maintaining power.  They also do it to test boundaries and show how omnipotent they are. They get a kick out of seeing you uncomfortable and now knowing how to react.  If you question them you may get mocked or even accused of being abusive for not letting them have friends. They will say you are paranoid and so you will second guess everything.
  10. You are walking on eggshells

    Sometimes you don’t even want to go home because you don’t know what to expect and haven’t got the energy to manage it.  So you find yourself sat in the car in the car park or lingering in the shop just to delay walking into uncertainty. You even jump for joy when they aren’t in!
  11. You are questioning your sanity

    One of the biggest signs is when you start to think that you must be the problem.  You have been repeatedly told you are crazy, paranoid, miserable and they are so convincing that they are innocent, projecting it all onto you, that you begin to wonder if they are right. This isolates you and prevents you from opening up to anyone else for fear of being judged and it also provides a strong narrative for them to recruit family and friends to make you feel worse and imply you have problems.  This deflects all blame from them and no matter what you tell anyone, they have already stabbed you in the back and created their own version of the truth.

All of these signs are recognised in abuse models. This is known as the Duluth power and control wheel and is used to “diagnose” abusive relationships.

unhealthy relationship model
Duluth power and control wheel

 

If you recognise all of these signs, you are definitely in an emotionally abusive relationship and may even be in a relationship with a narcissist.  That may be the first time you have heard that. Take a minute. It’s not easy to hear.  It’s also up to you what you do with that.

 

I also understand that it isn’t easy to label the person you love as a narcissist.  You see all the good in them and believe that deep down they are a good person. I believe that too.  But right now you are suffering. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t. And so something for you to consider is do you love them more than you love yourself?

 

I understand that what you want more than anything is for things to go back to how they were at the start.  For them to be the loving, fun and attentive person they were. Sadly we don’t have a time machine. And you can’t unknow what you know.  But you can make some conscious choices. The first of which is

 

  1. A) Do nothing, store this information away in your brain to perhaps recall at a later date but just get on with things
  2. B) Learn more.  Find out the reality of where you are at. Find out whether they are narcissistic.

 

If you choose B, we can help. You can read through our blogs for more information. We also have a quiz to help you know whether or not you are dealing with a narcissist.  It’s totally free.

Take our free “Is my partner a narcissist quiz?”

The post 11 Signs of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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15 Books Perfect For Children Living With Abusive Parents

Parents often ask me for resources to help them support their children who are living with an abusive parent.  It can be such a difficult topic to explain as there are so many emotions involved.

I have therefore compiled this list, with the help of many of my clients, to offer you some guidance and words on how to best support the child.

It is broken down into age categories for ease but remember that a child’s physical age is not necessarily their emotional age so be mindful of where that child is at in terms of their own understanding.

Children aged 0 – 6

At this age children are learning that their behaviour effects the world around them and these early experiences form a blueprint for how they see their world. They may blame themselves for arguments and will be asking things like “why does mummy hate daddy?” or “what did I do wrong?”  Children will also begin to assert themselves in play and this can be aggressive.

Boys can “fall in love” with their mothers and girls with their fathers and so this stages forms a blueprint for relationships and how they view the opposite sex. Abusive parents can distort a child’s view of what the role of a mummy/daddy and man/woman is.

Therefore the books in this list focus on helping children to manage their emotions and understand anger better.

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

Abusive parenting can result in emotions becoming very scary and distorted. The child may witness a parent happy one minute, angry the next with no trigger.  They won’t know what changed and so can be confused by not just their own emotions but also their parents.

Many children with abusive parents can also take ownership of their parent’s emotions and express them as their own.  Saying “I’m sad” or “I’m scared” but smiling and laughing.

This books helps children to identify what they are feeling on a range of subjects.

How are you feeling today Baby Bear By Jane Evans

Children who grow up in abusive homes often feel they did something wrong to cause the argument.  They regularly feel afraid, lonely, angry and tired.

This sensitive, charming storybook is written to help children who have lived with violence at home to begin to explore and name their feelings.

Kit Kitten and the Topsy Turvy Feelings by Jane Evans

Once upon a time there was a little kitten called Kit who lived with a grown-up cat called Kizz Cat. Kit Kitten couldn’t understand why sometimes Kizz Cat seemed sad and faraway and others times was busy and rushing about. Kit Kitten was sometimes cold and confused in this topsy turvy world and needed help to find ways to tell others about the big, medium and small feelings which were stuck inside. Luckily for Kit, Kindly Cat came along. Many children live in homes where things are chaotic and parents or carers are distracted and emotionally unavailable to them.

This storybook, designed for children aged 2 to 6, includes feelings based activities to build a child’s emotional awareness and vocabulary. A helpful tool for use by parents, carers, social workers and other professionals to enable young children to begin to name and talk about their feelings.

Two Homes by Claire Masurel

In this award-winning picture book classic about divorce, Alex has two homes – a home where Daddy lives and a home where Mummy lives. Alex has two front doors, two bedrooms and two very different favourite chairs. He has a toothbrush at Mummy’s and a toothbrush at Daddy’s. But whether Alex is with Mummy or Daddy, one thing stays the same: Alex is loved by them both – always.

This gently reassuring story focuses on what is gained rather than what is lost when parents divorce, while the sensitive illustrations, depicting two unique homes in all their small details, firmly establish Alex’s place in both of them. Two Homes will help children – and parents – embrace even the most difficult of changes with an open and optimistic heart.

Although not specifically centred upon parental mental health, divorce is an unsettling time for both parents and children and so this book may help ease the worry of how to explain what is happening to a child.

Grow Happy by Jon Lasser

“My name is Kiko. I’m a gardener. I grow happy. Let me show you how.” Kiko shows the reader how she grows happiness: by making good choices, taking care of her body and mind, paying attention to her feelings, problem solving, and spending time with family and friends. Kids will learn that they can play a pivotal role in creating their own happiness, just like Kiko. A Note to Parents and Other Caregivers provides more strategies for helping children learn how to grow happiness. Age range 4-8.

Anger is Okay, Violence is Not by Julie K Federico

Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT belongs on the desk of every child protective services case worker. This book has a hidden message for children who are living with violence and struggling with a domestic violence definition. This book is also a great resource for toddler’s struggling with temper tantrums. The book offers replacement behaviors children can do instead of getting angry. Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT teaches children about fish, feelings, families and anger control.

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes

Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first he tried to forget about it, but soon something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous for no reason. Sometimes his stomach hurt. He had bad dreams. And he started to feel angry and do mean things, which got him in trouble. Then he met Ms. Maple, who helped him talk about the terrible thing that he had tried to forget. Now Sherman is feeling much better.

This gently told and tenderly illustrated story is for children who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic episode, including physical abuse, school or gang violence, accidents, homicide, suicide, and natural disasters such as floods or fire. An afterword written for parents and other caregivers offers extensive suggestions for helping traumatized children, including a list of other sources that focus on specific events.

Children aged 7 – 13 years

At this age, children are asking more questions and starting to understand right from wrong. This can be especially hard when they are being taught bullying and violence is wrong but witness this at home. It can be really difficult for them to process and they will struggle with their own identity as well as feeling alienated from others. They will begin to identify with their own gender and so can align themselves with the abusive parent of the same sex. They are also learning consequences and to push boundaries. Abusive parents can either have to strict or too lapse boundaries and so children struggle to feel safe. This can lead to them withdrawing or lashing out.

The books in this age bracket are therefore focused on developing their identity and managing behaviours.

Lizzy Lives In An Angry House: Learning to Thrive In the Midst of an Angry Environment by Karen Addison MSPH

Karen Addison, educator, author and speaker, has witnessed and experienced the devastating effects of emotional and verbal abuse. Many have not addressed this form of destruction in relationships because it is difficult to talk about and difficult to understand. Often people don’t realize they are in emotionally destructive relationships, and this is especially true of children. If they are living in a home where a parent is “scary angry” and emotionally destructive, chances are the other parent is struggling to cope with that person, as well as the negative dynamics in the home. With wisdom and practical experience, Addison gives readers young and old alike an empathetic approach to recognising emotionally destructive (scary angry) relationships and tools to help those living in “scary angry” homes overcome and break the cycle of abuse

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.

Includes backmatter with discussion questions and resources for further reading.

Angryman by Gro Dahle

There’s someone in the living room.

It’s Dad.

It is Angryman.

Boj’s father can be very angry and violent. Boj calls this side of his father’s personality “Angryman.” When Angryman comes no one is safe. Until something powerful happens…

Gro Dahle’s astute text and Svein Nyhus’s bold, evocative art capture the full range of emotions that descend upon a small family as they grapple with “Angryman.” With an important message to children who experience the same things as Boj: You are not alone. It’s not your fault. You must tell someone you trust. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Somebody Cares: a Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect by Susan Farber Straus

Somebody Cares explores the feelings and thoughts many kids have when they’ve had to look out for themselves or be alone much of the time. A useful book to read with a caring adult — such as a parent, foster parent, kinship parent, or therapist — Somebody Cares reassures children who have experienced neglect that they are not to blame for what happened in their family, and that they can feel good about themselves for many reasons. It takes time for kids to get used to changes in their family or living situation, even when they are good changes. This book will help kids learn some ways to feel safer, more relaxed, and more confident.

Teenagers

Teenagers are going through their own internal battle with hormone changes as well as having to make some life choices with regards to career. They often regress to toddler behaviour due to this pressure. For children with abusive parents the control between their own family and their friends can cause real confusion and disappointment or anger. They may, due to hormonal issues, start to lash out more and this can terrify them because they recognise themselves in their abusive parent. Equally they may see a passive parent and feel anger towards them for not doing anything. There may also be a physical risk to the child at this age as they talk back.

Children at this age will have a strong sense or morality though and so are more likely to want to speak out to others about the injustice they feel at home and perhaps even run away or move out as soon as they are old enough.

Therefore books for this age group are around managing their own emotions and feeling safe to speak up and gain some understanding about what is happening in their family.

Don’t let your emotions run your life by Sheri van Dijk

Let’s face it: life gives you plenty of reasons to get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated&mdashand those feelings are okay. But sometimes it can feel like your emotions are taking over, spinning out of control with a mind of their own. To make matters worse, these overwhelming emotions might be interfering with school, causing trouble in your relationships, and preventing you from living a happier life.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens is a workbook that can help. In this book, you’ll find new ways of managing your feelings so that you’ll be ready to handle anything life sends your way. Based in dialectical behavior therapy, a type of therapy designed to help people who have a hard time handling their intense emotions, this workbook helps you learn the skills you need to ride the ups and downs of life with grace and confidence.

This book offers easy techniques to help you: Stay calm and mindful in difficult situations, Effectively manage out-of-control emotions, Reduce the pain of intense emotions and Get along with family and friends

My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic by Michael A. Tompkins, Ph.D., and Katherine A. Martinez, Psy.D

Learn strategies to help you take control of your anxiety. The authors share information about breathing, thinking, facing fears, panic attacks, nutrition, sleep, exercise, medication, and how to tell if and when anxiety is a problem.

The Truth about Love, Dating and Just Being Friends by Chat Eastham

Chad shines some much-needed light on these major issues for teens. Rather than let their feelings navigate them blindly through their tumultuous adolescence, Chad offers clarity, some surprising revelations, and answers to some of their biggest questions: How do I know who to date?  When should I start dating? How should I start dating? Is this really love? And, Why do guys I like just want to be friends?

Packed with humor that adds to the sound advice, this book will help teens make better decisions, have healthier relationships, and be more prepared for their futures. Just a few things girls will learn include: Five things you need to know about love; Eight dumb dating things even smart people do; Ten reasons why teens are unhappy; and Ten things happy teens do.

Any teen can live a happier, healthier life: they just need to hear The Truth

Forged By Fire by Sharon M Draper

Will Gerald find the courage to stand up to his stepfather? 

When his loving aunt dies, Gerald suddenly is thrust into a new home filled with anger and abuse. A brutal stepfather with a flaming temper and an evil secret makes Gerald miserable, and the only light in his grim life is Angel, his young stepsister. Gerald and Angel grow close as he strives to protect her from Jordan, his abusive stepfather, and from their substance-addicted mother. But Gerald learns, painfully, that his post can’t be extinguished, and that he must be strong enough to face Jordan in a final confrontation, once and for all…. 

This list is not exhaustive

I have just compiled some that I think resonate with my audience but please do your own research. You know what your child is ready for. Also remember that the ages are not cut off points and so be mindful of your own child’s capacity and choose the ones which best suit by the content, not the age.

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Divorce Files Show Abusive Judges and Lawyers

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Ken Perlmutter’s family alleges sex abuse of nefarious custody evaluator

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Walter Hammon (far right) wife Maben and Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg investigated for corrupting family courts.

Investigated: Susan Ellenberg and Walter Hammon 

For decades parents and Whistleblowers have complained that Silicon Valley courts have ignored decades of corruption  that allowed pedophiles, abusers and thieves to rob and harm families for profit. 

A recent investigation links Santa Clara County’s newest woman Democrat to sex trafficking, and scandalous conduct imposed by the Hammon Legal Dynasty. 

Divorce files show Ken Perlmutter is renting a home for $6100 a month, where he is charged with money laundering to avoid obligations during a divorce. Secret recording devices planted near Perlmutter’s rental home have captured conversations with divorce attorneys Bradford Baugh, Walter Hammon and Donelle Morgan, showing how divorce lawyers, custody evaluators and CPAs are using Santa Clara County divorce cases to launder money and fleece families for 

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Divorce Attorney Elise Mitchell's Private Files Document Blow Jobs to Judges

Call to Disbar Abusive San Jose Divorce Lawyer Mitchell Ehrlich of Lonich & Patton

Mitchell Ehrlich Openly Mocks Women, Gays and Victims of Domestic Violence on Social Media Then Tries to Destroy Evidence When Caught on Social Media 

Update: One day after this post, Ehrlich removed the video from YouTube, destroying evidence of his crime. Five victims  had captured the video before it was destroyed, one version is reposted here. 

Silicon Valley divorce lawyers have become so confident that they will be ignored by the State Bar that they are now taking to social media in demonstrations that violate every aspect of lawyer ethics and duties. Shame on Ehrlich.  This video only had 203 views when Q posted it, demonstrating the Mitchell Ehrlich  isn’t even very good at illegal advertising.  There are other pornographic videos Ehrlich has produced as well, leading to demands that he be immediately disbarred. 

Two years ago a group of photographers captured divorce lawyers associated with the Santa Clara County Bar Association mocking people emotionally embroiled in Silicon Valley divorce cases. Lawyers and judges openly sang about all the money they steal as they separate and destroy families across the county. 

The culture these lawyers have created, has  allowed them to emotionally abuse, sexually harass and outright steal from clients in one of the most corrupt family courts in the state. 

Judge James Towery, former Chief Trial Counsel, of the State Bar,  is responsible for much of this culture. Known for having three divorces himself, Towery was caught at a law firm cheating on his wife, when her father owned that firm. That divorce was silently and quickly settled. Towery has been retaliating against women ever since. 

Female lawyers are consistently awarded less in legal fees before Towery, and if they refuse his sexual advances, they earn even less. 

Judge Stuart Scott, a close friend of Towery’s, was seen taking cash payments from Deputy Jack Solario, payments concealed as court reporter fees, but designed for special protection, and sexual favor payouts. 

Fed up with these harassing Judges, a group of court staffers have secretly recorded James Towery calling women lawyers, and litigants ” sluts” , ” gold-diggers ”  and other disparaging names. These recordings are being secretly slipped to trusted family court reform advocates. 

Towery’s gender bias is so flagrant that women litigants and lawyers report dressing provocatively to get favorable rulings,  and attorney fees awards,  in his court.  

Towery has also been caught taking bribes of 49er tickets, loan refinancing on his homes through money laundering schemes and  kickbacks  through Hoge Fenton, criminal activity that has been protected by the district attorney, who used Towery in his reelection campaigns. 

Attorney Mitchell Ehrlich, of Lonich & Patton, has been receiving “protection” from Towery and the State Bar, after Ehrlich was known to draft private settlement agreements that concealed Towery’s , and other judicial officer’s  misdeeds. 

Ehrlich has been seen in local bars owned by lawyer John Conway, where lawyers reportedly arrange  ” dates ” for James Towery, Stuart Scott, Mark Pierce, and other male lawyers, with women Ehrlich knows are being used in sex trafficking rings.

Q has learned that a group of female clerks, paralegals and lawyers are joining forces  to bring a sexual harassment law suit that may snare  hundreds of law firms, and  lawyers, in litigation that could not only get these lawyers disbarred, but stands to permanently damage their careers. 

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