When someone wrongs or hurts us, we are almost always ready to strike back. But what if someone hurts you just a little bit every day? What if they trick you by coating their actions in words of love and affection? What if you love this person and that love leads you to believe you should do whatever you can to make them happy?

Emotional abuse is easy to miss. You cannot be convinced that you are being emotionally abused until you can see it for yourself.

Likely, you weren’t always in an abusive relationship. Abuse always starts somewhere. Maybe one day, your partner did something that bothered you and you overlooked it because you love them. And then they do it again. And you overlook it again. Eventually, you feel weak and helpless and that is emotional abuse.

If you feel weak and stressed around someone, that is the easiest way to tell if they emotionally abuse you.

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Signs of emotional abuse include:

1. You’re scared of your partner. You’re afraid to question or call them out on their behaviour for fear of how they’ll react.

2. Your partner lectures you constantly. They point out your flaws and condemn you for the things you’ve done “wrong”.

3. Your partner often compares you to other people. “Why can’t you be more like so and so?” They may even go so far as to point out people who are better looking than you.

4. Your partner is possessively jealous. They hate it when you have an active social life.

5. You are confused by your partner’s two-faced personality. Sometimes they are loving and wonderful, sometimes they are mean and spiteful – and you never know who you’re gonna get.

6. Your partner embarrasses you in front of others. They say things to make you feel small in front of your friends and family. They may often succeed in turning people against you by constantly saying negative things about you.

7. You are manipulated by your partner. They may corner you into doing things you don’t want to do by saying things like “Other people do it, why can’t you?”

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8. You often receive the silent treatment from your partner. Emotionally abusive partners operate on guilt, they will do whatever they can to make sure the guilt falls on you. This often includes huffing and giving you the silent treatment until you apologize.

9. Your partner likes to remind you of your failures. In an argument, they will constantly bring up ways that you’ve failed them or let them down.

10. Your partner doesn’t care about your achievements. They love to glorify their own achievements – even the smallest ones – but when you want to celebrate your own, they make you feel silly.

If any of these signs sound like your reality, you need to remember that you are the first step in overcoming this abuse. Speak up! That is the first step towards a better future. It might seem the hardest thing right now, but the moment you put your foot down you’ll feel your confidence start to come back. If you feel like you can’t deal with it yourself, involve a family member or an organization that serves the abused. You don’t have to put up with this kind of treatment! Your patience and grace won’t change their behaviour – only a firm answer will.