The author of a new book on recovery from psychological abuse, Shannon Thomas, has some advice for identifying a manipulative and emotionally abusive partner.
Thomas, of Southlake Christian Counseling, is the author of Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse. Writing for Mail Online, Thomas offers these warning signs of an abusive relationship.
One sinister aspect of emotional abuse, is when victims 'do not trust themselves to know whether the abuse was even real'.
Thomas sets out certain behaviours as typical of an abuser:
They use verbal silence and physical withdrawal in order to make you feel rejected and anxious
They are critical of parts of your life and personality they once praised
They use social media to make you jealous
They deny saying and doing things you clearly remember
They accuse you of being disrespectful when you approach issues about the relationship
Five signs of an emotionally abusive relationship, and ways to get out
1. 'Roller coaster',according to Thomas toxic relationships often involve huge mood shifts on the part of the abuser. Thomas recommends visualising this by getting a picture of an actual roller coaster, with highs and lows, and writing the name of your abuser at the top. Use it 'reflect on the fact that this relationship only follows this patterns'.
2. 'Psychological abusers often have a great public image'. Thomas stresses that it is important to remember that you have seen the abuser at the worst, even if they deny or hide it in public, and they know you have. She suggests one exercise of writing down 5-10 moments when you can recall the abuse. It is useful when you doubt yourself, to return to the list for reassurance.
3. 'Stepping back' is another technique victims can use to get out of abuse. According to Thomas, abusers will try to make their victim focus on one event at a time, preventing the victim from seeing the overall pattern of abusive behaviour.
4. 'Abusers don't abuse every day'. Thomas says that if a victim remembers this, they will find the moments of respite less attractive, especially when they can begin to predict how long the positive episodes will last, even if they come for weeks at a time.
5. 'Victims often will fall into the trap of believing this behaviour is all the abuser has ever known' writes Thomas, who warns against 'pity' clouding a victim's judgement of their abuser.
She tells the Mail Online:
Once a victim is able to come to terms with the truth that psychological abuse is done out of free-will, the next step is to determine what boundaries need to be put in place.
These boundaries include reducing the amount of contact with the abuser, and it puts the victim in control, but cutting off from an abuser completely is another form of boundary. No contact boundaries can also extend to people who support the behaviour of the abuser, who Thomas warns can choose not to see the abuse.