The first step in dealing with an emotionally abusive relationship is to recognise that it is happening. If you were able to identify any aspect of emotional abuse in your relationship, it is important to acknowledge that first and foremost. By being honest about what you are experiencing, you can begin to take control of your life again. Here are seven more strategies for reclaiming your life that you can put into practice today.
Make your mental and physical health a priority. Stop worrying about pleasing the person abusing you. Take care of your needs. Do something that will help you think positive and affirm who you are. Also, be sure to get an appropriate amount of rest and eat healthy meals. These simple self-care steps can go a long way in helping you deal with the day-to-day stresses of emotional abuse.
Establish boundaries with the abuser. Firmly tell the abusive person that they may no longer yell at you, call you names, insult you, be rude to you, and so on. Then, tell them what will happen if they choose to engage in this behaviour. For instance, tell them that if they call you names or insult you, the conversation will be over and you will leave the room. The key is to follow through on your boundaries. Do not communicate boundaries that you have no intention of keeping.
Stop blaming yourself. If you have been in an emotionally abusive relationship for any amount of time, you may believe that there is something severely wrong with you. Why else would someone who says they love you act like this, right? But you are not the problem. Abuse is a choice. So stop blaming yourself for something you have no control over.
Realise that you cannot “fix” the abusive person. Despite your best efforts, you will never be able to change an emotionally abusive person by doing something different or by being different. An abusive person makes a choice to behave abusively. Remind yourself that you cannot control their actions and that you are not to blame for their choices. The only thing you can fix or control is your response.
Do not engage with an abusive person. In other words, if an abuser tries to start an argument with you, begins insulting you, demands things from you or rages with jealousy, do not try to make explanations, soothe their feelings or make apologies for things you did not do. Simply walk away from the situation if you can. Engaging with an abuser only sets you up for more abuse and heartache. No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to make things right in their eyes.
Build a support network. Stop being silent about the abuse you are experiencing. Talk to a trusted friend, family member or even a counsellor about what you are experiencing. Take time away from the abusive person as much as possible and spend time with people who love and support you. This network of healthy friends and confidantes will help you feel less lonely and isolated. They also can speak truth into your life and help you put things into perspective.
Work on an exit plan. If your partner, friend, or family member has no intention of changing or working on their poor choices, you will not be able to remain in the abusive relationship forever. It will eventually take a toll on you both mentally and physically. Depending on your situation, you may need to take steps to end the relationship. Each situation is different. So it is best to discuss your thoughts and ideas with a trusted friend, family member or counsellor.