How Emotional Abuse Steals Your Happiness

01 Nov 2016

Emotional abuse steals your happiness. If I had to pick one key effect of “abuse”, it would be that.  Only an emotionally abusive relationship will leave you feeling so profoundly unhappy and racked by doubt.

Any emotionally abusive relationship is a journey, from hope, to hurt, to despair. There is a bit of happiness at the start – before you truly see your partner for who he is.   But before long,  emotional abuse sets in. The relationship soon goes downhill. And what a very steep hill it is that you slide down!  You may not be aware that emotional abuse steals your happiness, but you do become increasingly unhappy.  In fact, every time you think you must have hit rock bottom, you discover that your partner can take you even lower.

When clients come to me, it is because they are so desperately unhappy and fearful that they feel half crazy. That is when they begin to realize that the relationship must be abusive. By that time the relationship has been appallingly abusive for a long time.

What makes people so slow to recognize that their relationship as abusive? (What made me so slow to recognize my emotionally abusive relationship for what it was?) The answer hinges on,

  1. What you are prepared to accept – or, at least, tolerate, and
  2. What you are used to.

Anyone who has ever let emotional abuse steal their happiness shares the following 10 beliefs and behaviors.

The 10 Ways Emotional Abuse Steals Your Happiness

  • Your happiness is dependent on his approval. Even though he is profoundly critical and deeply disapproving, you know that one day – if you just try hard enough – he is bound to change. He only has to give you his approval, finally, and you will be happy. That “someday” of happiness with him is worth years – even decades – of misery. Or, at least, that is what you tell yourself.
  • You put your life on the back burner. He needs the limelight more than you. He gets SO peeved if he doesn’t have it. So, it just makes sense to put yourself last – after all, it’s not the first time. You have already had a fair bit of experience of coming last before you even met him.
  • Other people are better than you. Actually, they are NOT! Why on earth should you even think that? But you have spent years playing Compare and Contrast, even before you met him. An emotionally abusive partner is a past-master of the game of Compare and Contrast. He is the Wonderful One, whereas you… In your life, Compare and Contrast plays out as a great way to make Other People look good. At your expense.
  • You are constantly fearful. An emotionally abusive partner is a drama queen. He constantly plays the hero’s role in some intense psycho- drama or other. That means that you are endlessly typecast as the villain of the piece.  In his dramas, you – the “villain” – always get your just deserts (that is, whatever Mr. Punitive decides are your just deserts.)  In short, you are always under attack.  No wonder  your nervous system is on constant red alert.
  • You see yourself through his eyes.  The things he says – and you listen to – are things that only a worst enemy would ever say. Nobody wants to live with the judgments of their worst enemy constantly echoing in their head. Yet that is exactly what you do.  I have worked with so many smart women who truly believed they were born-again-idiots – purely because an abusive idiot told them so often enough.
  • You give yourself a hard time. Because you see yourself through your worst enemy’s eyes, you never stop criticizing yourself. You punish yourself for who he tells you that you are – which is NOT who you are. You also punish yourself for who he tells you that you are not.
  • You are not using your amazing potential. Emotional abuse stops you believing in yourself. When you stop believing in yourself, it becomes impossible to achieve what you are capable of.  The reality is that he needs you to underachieve to make him feel better, brighter, and smarter than he really is.
  • He becomes your window on the world. The world becomes the place that he says it is, filled with nasty, critical people, and all kinds of cruelty. Actually, he is a very dirty, faulty window, in desperate need of replacement. He may think he is The World. In reality, he is just Mr Mouthy .  It really is time for you to stop being a captive audience for him to mouth off to.
  • You give up on yourself. You forget about your abilities. You forget that you deserve good things. You forget about your qualities. You are prepared to squander your future with Mr.Mouthy, having already squandered more than enough years. I am betting that if you threw money away on a bad financial investment once, you would not make the same mistake again and again. Well, you have been wasting a lot of precious emotional capital on Mr. Mouthy. He is not worth it – and never was.
  • You become terribly negative about your life. Being around Mr. Mouthy is enough to make anyone negative. However, negativity is an investment in your UNhappiness. The more negative you are, the less likely you are to turn your life around. The tougher things get, the more you have to believe that you can transform your life.  Things change when you feel better.  You simply cannot afford to wait until you feel better to change things. You cannot afford to tell yourself that you will do nothing until you feel better and find the energy to take action. That day may not come.  The likely outcome of waiting is that you will merely become more and more resigned to being profoundly unhappy.

 Emotional abuse steals your happiness and paralyzes you by making your abuser the most important person in your world. Anyone who brings nothing but unhappiness into your world should not be allowed to have a leading role in your life. Ideally, they should have no role whatsoever. Emotional abuse steals your happiness by telling you that they are entitled to continue harming you for as long as they please.  Sanity states quite clearly that they have no such right. Especially if it goes unrecognized and unchecked, emotional abuse really will destroy the quality of life of the sufferer – and the children of the relationship, also. Please share this post on social media using the icons below to help spread awareness.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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