You may be in an abusive marriage if….
Domestic abuse is a common allegation in divorce and family law cases. Oklahoma law provides that if you are determined to be the victim of domestic violence you are entitled to an attorney fee award from the other party. Some abuse is obvious and clear, but other abuse can be difficult to prove or determine. It’s most common to see emotional abuse over physical abuse, and in society today, the abuser is more likely the wife than some may believe. Some studies suggest that up to 40% of domestic abuse is carried out against the husband, but that number is hard to specify because men are less likely to report abuse or claim abuse out of embarrassment, fear, or uncertainty of being believed.
Most don’t recognize emotional abuse for what it is and remain subject to it thinking it’s “just part of marriage.” Men and women need to know what constitutes abuse and be mindful of it. Here are 10 behaviors that indicate emotional abuse.
Being verbally abusive, belittling, humiliating, or name-calling in front of your friends or family
Verbal put-downs or attacks in front of friends or family is the first sign that your spouse doesn’t respect you and is willing to let others know that she doesn’t by verbally attacking or jabbing at you in front of them. This goes hand in hand with an attempt to isolate you from your friends and family in order to prevent those closest to you from recognizing the changes that are likely occurring in you.
Possessive, jealous, harassing with accusations of unfaithfulness
The abusive spouse may be very possessive of your time and attention and will accuse you of neglecting your family as a result of your time with friends or family. That possessiveness goes to the next identifier, so be on the lookout for accusations of unfaithfulness. Be aware that when someone turns the table on you and accuses you of something, it may be because they are most likely guilty. Honest people tend to think others are honest too, while guilty people tend to think everyone around them is also guilty. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much” may be an applicable statement to your situation.
Controlling where you go and who you see, Isolating you from friends and family
“I need you home because I don’t feel good.” This may be true and it may be a reason why you shouldn’t meet a friend on your way home from work, but if it consistently happens it may be a sign of an attempt to isolate and control your time and attention. When you’re a working spouse, there are few opportunities to connect and spend time with friends, so that often happens over coffee in the morning, lunch during the day, happy hour after work, or maybe on the golf course or at a fitness class. If your spouse seems to consistently create reasons for you to forego those times or makes you feel guilty when you get home because of those visits, you’ve probably got a controlling and abusive spouse on your hands.
Controlling of how you spend money or deliberately defaulting on joint obligations
t’s not unusual for one spouse to maintain the checkbook and pay the bills, but in an abusive home, this can be an opportunity for the abusive spouse to maintain control as opposed to maintaining a budget. If you’re not minding the store you don’t know what the employees are doing, and the same goes for your home. The abusive spouse may be blaming you for not providing enough when at the same time they’re spending is anything but budget-minded, putting more and more pressure on you to produce. And when you can’t produce enough to keep up, refer to #1 above as to what to expect next.
Making false allegations about you to their friends or employers, law enforcement, or finding ways to isolate and manipulate you
The abusive spouse may at times make you feel that they’re putting their friends before you because abusiveness goes hand-in-hand with selfishness. At the same time, they’re limiting your ability to see your own friends, and expecting you to accommodate their own social agenda. They may be speaking poorly of you to their friends who care little about you and are affirming their narrative of life being terrible at home, all the while leaving you to care for the kids as they pursues their own social life outside the home.
Threatening to leave you and keep you from seeing your kids
This is quite common in households where emotional abuse is prevalent. Some spouses, often mothers have developed an expectation that they have the upper hand when it comes to their children. They know that regardless of how progressive our society has become, or how much time fathers are spending caring for children today, the mother still has the upper hand in a family law court. The abusive wife is one who is quick to use this as a weapon with her husband. “Leave me and I’ll take the kids and you’ll be lucky to see them.” That’s a powerful statement to a husband dealing with the trauma of an emotionally abusive marriage and works well to keep a husband tied to the marriage because of the kids.
This dynamic is also applicable to wives who are victim of the financially superior husband who threatens to use financial resources to keep the kids away from the mother, or create an insurmountable obstacle to leaving based on financial control.
Treating you like a child or servant
“You never do anything right.” “You’re so lazy.” “I have to check your work or it may not be done right.” These may be regular comments you hear in your marriage and they may be signs of an abusive relationship. Expressing to a spouse “You can’t do anything right,” is clearly disrespectful. Treating a spouse with such disrespect is a sign of abuse. As is expecting the working spouse to clean the house when the non-working spouse has been home all day watching TV. A non-working spouse attacking a working spouse for not doing the dishes that day, or not doing enough around the house as soon as she’s home from a workday, is emotional abuse. Recognize it for what it is.
Making the victim spouse feel like they are crazy
“Gaslighting” is a favorite term used in family law cases, and it’s not a unique one. Wives gaslight husbands just as easily as husbands do the same to wives. There are a few more powerful manipulation tactics like convincing someone they are crazy and that the issues the marriage is facing are all their fault. Emotionally sensitive spouses, whether husband or wife, are subject to attack in this way and may succumb to it by believing they are the reason for the problems in the marriage or are not doing enough, or may have a mental health issue. Be observant of what is being said to you by your spouse and recognize it for what it may be. Abuse.
Making the victim spouse feel guilty
This goes hand-in-hand with the above trait because attacking someone and saying they are crazy, inept, or incapable is also making the spouse feel that they are guilty of all of the problems in the world of the other spouse. In fact, if your spouse has ever told you you’re the reason for her problems, she’s being emotionally abusive.
The easiest thing for an abusive spouse to do is to withhold affection. This is a common tactic for wives looking to gain leverage over the husband. If she’s unjustifiably withholding affection as a punishment to the man, she’s exhibiting emotionally abusive behavior.
These traits are signs of abuse and are applicable to men just as much as women when they are identified within a domestic relationship. When husbands are subjected to these behaviors, it is traumatic in ways not quickly recognized and can contribute to insecurities, self-doubt, and depression in men as they try to navigate lives in which these are daily obstacles to overcome.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, there’s help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or seek counsel in order to discuss the options available to you.
Tracy, N. (2021, December 17). Emotional Abuse of Men: Men Victims of Emotional Abuse Too, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, March 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-abuse-of-men-men-victims-of-emotional-abuse-too