If you’re anything like me, you were glued to your TV ever since series two of Doctor Foster hit our screens. Each episode was so realistic that we felt like we were living Gemma’s life right there with her and let’s face it, it was pretty traumatic.
For those of you who don’t know, Doctor Foster tells the story of Gemma who becomes suspicious that her husband is up to no good and in short, when she finds out her worst fear about Simon (he was having an affair with a much younger woman), everyone around her – including herself – suffers as a result. Strong stuff eh?
As their divorce proceedings go ahead, it seems there’s more to Gemma and Simon’s relationship than once met the eye. Between her husband sending her flowers with hateful message, to turning her friends and family against her, to even suggesting she needs help and manipulating her into thinking she’s got a problem, Gemma suffered some serious emotional abuse.
Of course, we can be objective on this situation because we’re sat on the outside looking in but when it comes to our own relationships, sometimes it’s not as easy to spot the signs that you’re at the hands of an emotionally abusive partner, for more reasons than one.
If you’re a victim of emotional abuse, chances are you’re vulnerable and anxious with zero self-esteem so picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and walking away from this situation may not be easy unless you can convince yourself that you’re in an abusive relationship.
However, there are several signs that you can look out for if you’re concerned about yourself, a friend or a family member.
Is the silent treatment used to make you feel anxious or lonely?
If your partner is constantly blanking you or physically withdrawing themselves from being around you, this is a sign that they’re trying to make you feel rejected. I don’t just mean you’re not talking after a spat or he’s gone into his man cave to play Fifa 18, this would be a very common occurrence and it’s worth taking notice if it happens to you more often than not.
Are you constantly criticised for everything you do?
Whether it’s your appearance, your hobbies, your work, your relationships, an emotionally abusive partner will pick apart everything you were once highly praised for and tear it to shreds, battering your self-esteem in the process. This is very much a control tactic and will, as a result, make you feel worthless.
Do you find it difficult to explain how your relationship has changed?
When your friends ask “so how’s things?” there’s no doubt you’d start to feel anxious when you answer “fine” because deep down, you know that’s a lie. You find it hard, even to reason with yourself, how things have gone from great to not-so-great. You can’t find a logical explanation for the way your relationship is progressing, or digressing, and you feel pretty helpless about the whole situation.
Have you gone from being a confident person to an introverted worrier?
When an emotionally abusive partner starts to take matters into their own hands, they mould how you act and feel as a person and you’ve got no control over it. You’ll notice that you used to be confident and outgoing and after having been a victim to your partner’s taunts and behaviour, you find yourself constantly anxious about yourself and your life.
Do you worry that you’ll never be able to walk away?
Leaving a relationship is never an easy task whether you want to or not, you’ve become accustomed to the routine and security that this partnership provides. It’s even more difficult when you’ve been made to feel vulnerable by your supposedly significant other because you fear that you’ll never be ‘okay’ out of this situation but here’s the thing, you will.
Has your health deteriorated since you’ve been in this relationship?
If you’re in a healthy relationship, generally speaking you feel good apart from perhaps the odd sniffle, whereas if you’re suffering from emotional abuse, this can in turn affect both your physical and mental health. Even something like feeling constantly exhausted might seem trivial and you may put this down to your job or other factors but if you consider it logically, is it really down to other things or has your health only taken a hit since you got into this relationship?
Does your partner use social media to make you jealous?
Flaunting their relationships with others, showing off photos of events you weren’t invited to, social media can be a cruel tool used by an abuser to emotionally manipulate you into feeling both helpless and unwanted. They wouldn’t be sharing these experience with you in a positive light, it would be purely to get a reaction and not a good one. This is not how couples share and communicate, in fact, it’s the complete opposite.
Is your partner in constant denial about things you’re certain have happened?
It might be a more familiar situation than you would think but can you recall a situation where you’ve confronted your partner about something that’s happened and they barefaced deny that it happened, almost convincing you that you’re not of sound mind or that you’re a liar? If the answer is yes, it’s not you. It’s just another cruel manipulation tactic to ensure that they remain to be the one in control in the relationship.
Of course each situation is entirely individual but it’s important to be able to recognise tell-tale signs if you feel you might be in a toxic relationship, and if you are, how to get out of it.
The free National Helpline for domestic abuse is 0808 2000 247