PRACTICE AREA | SERVICE DETAILS
- Date 22 Apr 2020
- Attorney at Law B.A.S. van Leeuwen (LL.M., Esq.)
- Skills Corporate Fraud and Criminal Law, Corporate Investigations, Compliance and Sanctions
- Location Utrecht-City, Amsterdam
- Category Areas of Legal Practice, Civil Litigation and Civil Protection Order, Corporate Clients, Criminal Defence Practice, Family Law, Government and Public Sector, Law Enforcement Agencies, Private Clients, Private-Sector Investigators, Auditors and Forensic Accountants, Social Legal Aid, Surveillance and Security, Taxi Industry
ABOUT THIS PRACTICE AREA | SERVICE
Emotional abuse is an attempt to control someone through psychological, not physical, manipulation. This can be in the form of criticism, shaming, threats of punishment and a refusal to communicate.
The major signs of emotionally abusive relationships may seem like really different types of behaviour, but they produce the same kind of hurt.
If the other items in this list are the building blocks of emotional abuse, then control is the keystone holding them all together. Often, an abuser’s underlying motivation is the intent to control his or her victim, whether overtly (policing and restricting day-to-day routines and relationships) or subtly (taking small jabs to undermine independence and self-esteem).
In a healthy relationship, your partner recognizes your insecurities —and respectfully steers clear. But in a relationship with emotional abuse, you might find that your partner exploits your weaknesses and knows just how to push your buttons. By undermining your composure and causing you to feel unhinged, the abuser exposes your weaknesses, making it easier for them to establish dominance.
We all raise our voices from time to time, but if the majority of disagreements devolve into a shouting match, particularly if causes one partner to shrink and wince, then that’s a red flag. Not only does yelling make it nearly impossible to have a productive conversation, it creates an imbalance of power as only the loudest person is heard.
Any act that causes a person to feel threatened, meek, or fearful of harm or injury can fall under the umbrella of intimidation. This includes (but isn’t limited to) yelling, aggressive gestures, destruction (throwing a glass, punching a wall, etc.), displaying weapons, or threatening the livelihood of the victim or someone close to them.
“Being hypercritical, belittling, calling people names, all of those things” are forms of criticism. This sign also emerges when you or your partner focus on attacking the other person’s character or quality rather than the action or behaviour that was bothering you.
“It’s one thing to just kind of say how you feel and ask for what you need. But then the expectation that the person is going to hear you and at least be respectful and caring in their response, even if they can’t give you what you need,” is essential to a healthy relationship. If there’s contempt in a relationship, it’s pretty impossible to “get your needs met… and you’re going to spend your life feeling hurt.” Some examples of contempt include mean-spirited sarcasm, arrogance, disgust, and apathy. Of course, sarcasm can come up in a playful way too, so ask yourself, Is it done with affection, or is it really done to hurt the other person?
These coercive if-then statements can include blackmail, threats of physical harm or suicide, or other intimidating remarks, but they often share the same intent: to back the victim into a corner and prevent him or her from escaping the relationship.
“When somebody refuses to talk or communicate and just kind of shuts down,” that can be just as hurtful as name-calling, contempt, and defensiveness. It can be just as damaging because when somebody shuts you out and won’t communicate with you, it’s sending the message that they are rejecting you and don’t care about you. Because they are refusing to engage you, they are essentially abandoning you.
The victim is manipulated to believe that he or she is the cause of—and therefore deserving of—their abuse and unhappiness, which makes breaking the cycle that much more difficult. This is further compounded when the victim feels shame or embarrassment that he or she has “allowed” the abuse to occur.
A form of psychological manipulation, gas lighting causes the victim to question or doubt his or her memories, sanity, and judgement. If you find that your concerns or recollections are frequently dismissed as being false, stupid, or “crazy,” then you may be dealing with gas lighting.
Emotional abuse is pervasive; it affects all areas of a victim’s life, most notably his or her relationships with friends and family. Victims of emotional abuse are manipulated to believe that no one understands them as well as their abuser, or that no one cares. This physical and mental alienation may cause the victim to feel as though he or she is living on an island, far removed from loved ones and past versions of themselves.
If your dynamic with your partner is constantly interrupted by his or her mood swings, it can a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Hot-and-cold, Jekyll-and-Hyde behaviour is stressful and unnerving, as you never know which version of you’re partner you’re going to see or unleash. If you find that your partner frequently showers you with gifts and affection following an outburst, alarm bells should be ringing.
This occurs when one partner withholds something from the other partner either as punishment or as means to an end—for example, sex, money, or even communication (in the form of the silent treatment)
Feelings of excessive guilt can make for powerful shackles. Emotional abuse may cause one partner to feel as though they’re to blame for the state of the relationship, or that they’re the cause of their partner’s behaviour.