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Emotional Abuse – The Abuse No One Ever Told You About
I find it to be much more discussion about a very important topic. Although we have all grown up, and heard around us that hitting men is wrong and is humiliating, the issue of emotional/verbal/emotional abuse often seems to be overlooked. Emotional damage can last longer than physical abuse, even lasting a lifetime.
We always wonder why a woman would put up with a physically abusive man. It seems crazy to us…someone hits you – you walk away – pretty simple. What people don’t usually know is that physical abusers start out as emotional abusers. When a man becomes physically abusive, he has emotionally torn the woman down so badly or for so long, she’s not sure which way is up. Most women I know think they can find this guy without any further information and that goes into the “never happen to me” category. I can tell you that I have an engineering degree, good job, always had healthy self-esteem, a man knows better than to treat me badly, and I still wake up one day to find myself in an abusive situation.
Emotional abuse can be much more complex and confusing than tearing you down, telling you you’re not attractive, stupid, etc. I would like to share a short story with you to better explain how a manipulative emotional abuser works his ways.
My boyfriend at the time and I planned a long weekend getaway. I was really excited about going on vacation with just him and me. The day we were leaving I was sitting at my boyfriend’s house, with his roommate, waiting for him to go home so his roommate could drive us to the airport. I noticed her roommate packed her bags and asked where she was going for the weekend. He looked at me like I had two heads and said, “I’m going with you.” I was shocked, hurt and mad my boyfriend didn’t talk to me about his roommate moving in with us. I wouldn’t have bought the plane ticket if I knew it was a “group” trip. When my boyfriend got home I pulled him aside and calmly asked why he hadn’t discussed it with me. He said to me “We discussed this last Wednesday. Don’t you remember? You were sitting right there, he was sitting here, and I was sitting there and we all agreed.” I was really upset because I still didn’t like the situation and wasn’t excited about the trip anymore, but what was wrong with me that I couldn’t remember the conversation? It must have been my bad memories that my ex sometimes took on me. No matter how upset or hurt I was, I only had myself to blame. I must have agreed and don’t remember.
It wasn’t until I left him that I realized the three of us never had a conversation and he was just messing with my mind. It was always like that. “I instructed you earlier, don’t you remember?” “We already talked about this, don’t you remember?” “I told you to bring xyz!” I felt stupid and stupid and stupid in that relationship. I thought I had a terrible memory and sometimes I might forget a bit so I bought into it. He made me dependent because I sure couldn’t depend on myself given how absent minded I had become! I never questioned it the entire time I was with him. He always put so much detail around the lies that it never occurred to me that I couldn’t believe someone’s words that they loved me. I couldn’t imagine lying like that and thought it was easier to abuse, like telling someone “you’re an idiot”, instead of slowly convincing them that they’re an idiot in such a manipulative way.
Your biggest defense against manipulative people and emotional abusers is to believe in yourself no matter the situation. If I had believed myself and the facts in my head rather than what he was telling me, we would have dated for about three months instead of being married. If I had been educated about how emotional abuse really works, I would never have ended up in that scary situation.
The list below is signs that you may be in an abusive relationship. It’s also a good list to keep in the back of your head for friends, family or children so you can spot red flags quickly. This list is taken from http://www.drirene.com. If you answered “yes” to more than a few, you may want to take a closer look.
What is your partner:
Ignore your feelings?
Are you mocked or insulted and told it’s a joke, or do you have no sense of humor?
Mock your faith, religion, race, heritage or class?
Withholding approval, praise or affection?
Do you give the silent treatment?
Leave without answering you?
Criticize you, call you names, shout?
Humiliated you privately or publicly?
Does his or her eyes roll when you talk?
Do you give a hard time about socializing with your friends or family?
To socialize you (and keep up appearances) even when you’re not feeling well?
What you really want seems to make sure you don’t get it?
Say you are too sensitive?
Are you especially when you hit down?
Feeling strong by fighting, when fighting makes you tired?
Have unexpected mood swings, changing from good to bad for no apparent reason?
Present a wonderful face to the world and be well liked by outsiders?
“Twist” your words, have you said against yourself?
Try to control decisions, money, even the way you style your hair or wear your clothes?
Complain about how badly you treat him or her?
Threats to quit, or threats to kick you out?
Say something that makes you feel good, but do something that makes you feel bad?
Ever held you back?
Ever threatened to hurt you or your family?
Ever hit or bumped you, even “accidentally”?
Does the problem seem to stir when you seem to be getting close to each other?
Abuse something you love: a pet, a child, an object?
Admiring enough to keep you happy, yet criticizing enough to keep you insecure?
Promise to never do anything harmful again?
Are you bothered about fictional subjects?
Manipulates you with lies and contradictions?
Destroying furniture, punching holes in walls, breaking appliances?
Drive like a road-rage junkie?
Acting immature and selfish, yet accusing you of that behavior?
Question your every move and purpose, somehow questioning your worth?
prevents you; Listen but not really hear?
You think you can’t win? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t?
Use involving drugs and/or alcohol? Are things worse then?
You provoke anger, which is “proof” you are guilty?
Try to convince you he or she is “right”, while you are “wrong?”
Often say things that are later denied or accused of misunderstanding?
Treat you like a sex object, or provide sex on demand no matter how you feel?
Your situation is serious if the following apply to you:
You express your opinions less and less freely.
If you find yourself walking on eggshells, be careful about when and how to say things.
You long for that softer, more vulnerable part of your partner to emerge.
Do you find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior?
You feel emotionally insecure.
You feel that it is not right to talk about your relationship with others.
You hope things will change…especially with your love and understanding.
You find yourself doubting your memory or sense of reality.
You doubt your own judgment.
You doubt your abilities.
You feel vulnerable and insecure.
You are becoming increasingly depressed.
You feel increasingly trapped and powerless.
You are or are afraid of your partner.
Your partner has physically hurt you, even once.
Another great resource is Patricia Evans’ book The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond. It is often cited as a top book on emotional abuse and may be helpful to you or someone you know who needs to be educated about emotional abuse.
Remember that abusers are often well-liked, intelligent, respectable people and only treat their partners badly when alone. If you have someone in your life who is in a relationship and seems to be cutting off contact with you and other friends, have a heart to heart if you are close enough. I know I may not have listened now, but if I had people who would tell me “It’s not right, ever, that he did or did that.” or “You deserve a man who does or does.” Or even just showing me that list, I might have woken up sooner rather than later.
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