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Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Eating Disorders
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Psychiatry & Psychotherapy
Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Eating Disorders San Pedro and Long Beach California

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Silent Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse

October is Domestic Violence Month. The signs of physical abuse are obvious, but many women suffer the invisible abuse of emotional violence that leaves them confused and disoriented. There are many tactics to this kind of abuse, but an overriding sign is that real communication is impossible, which means nothing ever gets resolved in the relationship. In fact there is a constant barrage of insidious mental bullying that is hard to catch at first if you don’t know the signs.

Your idyllic relationship starts to unravel the moment you finally bring up a need or concern of your own ( a few months into the relationship when the honeymoon phase has ended), and you’ll find yourself baffled by their cruelty. One of the easiest signs to spot is the frequent use of the silent treatment as emotional torture. Anytime you bring up any concern or need, you are made to feel like you are starting a fight, and one of the most immediate responses is the silent treatment. This silent treatment generally lasts a few days to a few weeks. Out of the blue, they will no longer respond to your texts or phone calls, often you’re not even sure what happened. You feel disoriented and confused.  Silent treatment is deliberately being used as a punishment.  In fact, silent treatments are one of the most destructive forms of abuse in a relationship.  Here are some more signs to watch out for:

    • They frequently have temper tantrums over little things (feeling like you have to walk on egg shells)
    • Anytime you bring up a concern it gets turned around back on you ( they project it back on you)
    • They trivialize your concerns by mocking you
    • They deny something happened ( gas-lighting)
    • Their criticism comes in the form of underhanded jokes
    • They make false accusations to you, like you never pick up the phone, or you’re always late, or you’re cheating
    • They make themselves unavailable, and generally treat you as low priority……unimportant
    • They blame you for everything including their depression
    • They make you feel important by having you be their caretaker
    • They shower you with compliments and make you feel important so that the relationship develops very quickly and then you find yourself wondering where that thoughtful person is once committed to the relationship
    • They never apologize, because they have a hard time accepting they are wrong
    • When they come back after a silent treatment, they will act like nothing happened
    • They triangulate you with another man/woman or family member and then make fun of you calling you jealous
    • They try to “keep you in your place” by forgetting anniversaries, Valentine’s Day and are terrible gift givers
    • They purposely withhold information to keep you in the dark either through being evasive or by using lies.  It gives them a sense of power over you.
    • They throw a temper tantrums or give you the silent treatment in order to ruin any special events
  • They isolate you from family and friends

Trust your gut instinct.  If you start to feel you are being used and abused, you probably are.  All of these behaviors are meant to lower your expectations of them, so they are able to have power and control in the relationship.  The sooner you recognize the warning signs and demand change or leave the relationship, the better it will be for everyone.  The best way to find out if your partner is capable of having a healthy relationship is to take the relationship slow, and by having a disagreement early on (in the first few months) to see if there is a constructive approach to resolving the disagreement, that involves a healthy give and take.  That is what reciprocity is about. Reciprocity tells you they value how you feel and want to see you happy. A healthy relationship should encourage you to enjoy your family and friends and have your own hobbies and interests.  What good is a relationship that tears you down.  

You may visit our webpage information on domestic abuse & violence for additional handouts and information.

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