How to recognize, overcome mental abuse in toxic relationships

Local News

(WKBN) – Oftentimes, the term domestic violence is associated with physical abuse. But there are other forms of domestic violence that are just as dangerous and damaging.

Mental and emotional abuse are forms of domestic violence that often go unnoticed and untreated.

This can lead to a toxic relationship, making it hard for the victim to leave.

“Jealousy, anger, some of those esteem issues that I mentioned, a person may not feel valued,” said Christopher Price, founder of Agape Counseling Services.

There are different signs of toxicity to look out for. Controlling behavior, cheating, disrespect, resentment and dishonesty are just a few.

There are also some signs of emotional abuse to look out for, such as gaslighting, which is a technique that makes you question your own feelings, instincts and sanity.

“I think it’s most often seen in romantic relationships where the partner will manipulate the other person into saying that, ‘This isn’t happening’ or ‘You’re just imagining’ or ‘You’re blowing it out of proportion.’ However, it does occur in other relationships as well, specifically familiar relationships,” Price said.

Oftentimes, gaslighting will manipulate a person into staying in a toxic relationship, causing them to believe they are the one at fault for reacting to toxic behavior.

Price says one of the major differences between physical abuse and mental/emotional abuse is that the victim doesn’t always realize the mental/emotional abuse is happening right away. Sometimes, it takes time to understand what is happening, and by then, it may be difficult to escape.

“We oftentimes don’t know, many of us don’t know what is assault. What is verbally assaultive and what constitutes as mental abuse,” Price said.

There are some short and long term damages that can be caused by this type of abuse.

Still, there are ways to get out of it if you feel it is happening to you. Realizing the issue is the first step.

“If you have the expertise of a clinician, he or she can say, ‘Let’s dissect this, let’s think about what’s going on. Do you feel like this is OK for him or her to do to you?’” Price said.

If you or someone you know may be going through this, there are local organizations you can reach out to.

  • Sojourner House: 330-747-4040, Youngstown, 24-hour hotline
  • Compass Family & Community Services: 330-782-5664, Youngstown, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Someplace Safe: 330-393-3005, Warren, open 24 hours
  • Daybreak Youth Crisis Center: 330-782-5664, Youngstown
  • Beatitude House:
    • Youngstown – 330-746-6622
    • Warren – 330-399-1971
  • Help Network Of Northeast Ohio: 
    • Suicide Hotline Contact Numbers
      • Mahoning County and Trumbull County – 330-747-2696
      • Columbiana County – 330-424-7767
      • East Palestine, Beloit, Sebring and Western Columbiana County1-800-427-3606
      • Ashtabula County – 1-800-577-7849
    • Senior Line
      • 330-747-2697
      • 330-424-7767
    • Victims Of Crime Hotline
      • 330-747-2696
      • 330-424-7767
      • 1-800-427-3606

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