Are you in a TOXIC relationship?
GLAMOUR South Africa|January/February 2020
It’s not always easy to spot the signs of emotional abuse, especially if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, as the abuse is often subtle and progressive. Dr Sarah Davies, psychologist and author of Never Again: Moving On From Narcissistic Abuse and Other Toxic Relationships, sheds some light.
THOBEKA PHANYEKO

The subtle signs of abuse

Abusive relationships, narcissistic abuse, in particular, can also be referred to as ‘invisible abuse’, as emotional and psychological abuse doesn’t leave physical marks. “In many ways, this makes it more dangerous, as it’s harder to spot,” says Dr Sarah Davies. If you suspect you’re being manipulated by your partner, look for subtle signs, including feeling undermined or unsupported. “Abusive relationships can be up and down, on and off, and leave you feeling drained, tired or emotionally exhausted. Feeling unsafe, threatened, or that your partner is unpredictable or unreliable, are all signs of a toxic relationship.” You may have started to second-guess yourself and wonder if you’re imagining things. You may miss the warning signs if your abuser showers you with romance, gifts, compliments, apologies and promises to overcompensate. Your head is probably spinning with a whirlwind of emotions. “But it’s important to stay grounded while you try to keep up with what’s happening,” she says. “Be realistic about how you’re being treated.”

Healthy vs. toxic relationships

When you’re in a healthy relationship, you feel supported, and your partner is willing to accept you, baggage and all. A toxic relationship is the opposite of this. “Other signs of an abusive relationship include having a partner who suggests that any issues or problems within the relationship are your fault,” says Dr Davies. The truth is, it’s never solely down to you because relationships take two people. “Watch out for abusive behaviours, such as criticism, noshows, guilt-tripping, shaming, manipulation and lies, usually followed by a show of love and remorse.”

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