“I love you, but…” – Understanding Mental, Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Males and females can be abused and abusers. Women and men can be verbal abusers. The following recurring thoughts indicate you are being mentally or emotionally abused by your spouse or lover.

“Sandy has no right to do that.”

“I had better not tell Harry or he will be mad again.”

“I’d better keep this private to avoid being criticized again.”

“I can never do anything right with Chris.”

“I can’t stand it when Erin does that to me.”

“Sometimes I think Natalie is tearing me apart with her mouth.”

“Bob is always so sarcastic.”

“When Pat talks to me like that I feel really small.”

Mental, Emotional and Psychological Abuse Targets Self-Esteem

All abuse takes a toll on self-esteem. The abused person starts feeling helpless and possibly even hopeless. In addition, most emotional abusers are adept at convincing the victim that the abuse is his/her fault. Somehow, the victim is responsible for what happened.

Emotional abuse can take the form of:

  • Extramarital affairs
  • Provocative behavior with opposite sex
  • Humiliation and put-downs
  • Hyper-criticism
  • Refusal to communicate
  • Use of sarcasm and unpleasant tone of voice
  • Unreasonable jealousy
  • Extreme moodiness
  • “I love you but…”
  • “If you don’t shape up, I will…”
  • Domination and control
  • Withdrawal of affection

A common form of emotional abuse is “I love you, but…” That sounds so sweet, yet it is both a disguised criticism and a threat. It indicates, “I love you now, but if you don’t stop such-and such, that love is of short duration.” It is a constant put-down that works on your self-esteem.

And mental abuse often has some threat involved such as, “If you don’t shape up, I will…”

“If you leave me, I’ll go off without a trace. You and the kids will never find me and never get a penny from me.”

Mental abuse is a blow of death to your self-esteem. Often the first step in leaving the abuse is obtaining counseling to rebuild that esteem.

One Reader’s Story:

I’ve recently realized that my husband of eight years is verbally abusive with me. My self-esteem is so low. I hurt so badly inside. I honestly believe that at least with physical abuse, there’s something concrete to show an outsider. How do I extract my broken will and damaged psyche and show anyone how I feel?

This morning I was told I could never disagree with him. That indeed our eight years of fighting was my fault, as I am not as submissive as The Bible instructs women to be. That if we were in a Middle Eastern country, he would sell me.

I have financially supported this man for eight years while he worked on his music “career”. I have given up many, many things so that he could pursue his dream. I’ve been so mentally broken that I don’t even remember what my dreams used to be. I feel more worthless every day, when it comes to him.

Honestly, I don’t ever see him looking at himself as abusive. How do I gather the courage to leave, when I don’t want to?

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