One of the most haunting segments of Jennifer Lopez’s 2014 memoir called True Love are the revelations about the abusive nature of some of the singer’s relationships.
“I’ve never gotten a black eye or a busted lip, but I’ve felt abused in one way or another: mentally, emotionally, verbally,” Lopez writes in the book. The New Yorker has been married three times: to Ojani Noa between 1997 and 1998, to actor Chris Judd from 2001 until 2003, and singer Marc Anthony between 2004 and 2014. Her last known relationship was with dancer and choreographer Casper Smart that ended in August 2016.
“Psychological or emotional abuse can be every bit as devastating as physical abuse in a relationship,” says Gail Saltz, the Editor of Health magazine’s psychology section. “It is the use of power to hurt the other and to control the other, and early signs are often the same as early signs of any abuse.”
Look at the five most common warning signs that your partner is emotionally abusive explained by Dr. Saltz.
“Examples are the partner who removes you or creates distance in your friendships and other family relationships by expressing jealousy and dislike of time you spend with them, pulling you further into a place of only you and them,” she says. They want to know who you’re with and they get angry if you don’t “report in” or aren’t available to them.
Interchanging mean and polite comments
“They say undermining or critical things to you, commenting on clothes, appearance and what you do,” she says. “After being hurtful or mean it’s often followed with apologies and professions of love, like ‘I can’t live without you,’ ‘I’ll never do or say that again,’ or ‘I didn’t mean that.'”
Everything leads to an argument
“In an attempt to control you, it may be impossible to disagree without it quickly turning into a fight. The point is to intimidate you into not disagreeing, but going along. You should be able to disagree and have a conversation.”
You’re afraid to talk to them…
“Having the expectation that anything will set them off is not only a clue that abuse is going on, it vastly limits your intimacy such that you aren’t having much of a real relationship anyway.”
…yet they’re your first priority
“The abusive partner needs to be the center of your universe at all times; when you comply you slowly start to dissolve until you are just their appendage. It’s harder to get out once you have lost yourself. No one who loves you in a healthy relationship should want you to always put them before yourself.”
So, what to do about it?
According to Dr. Saltz, spotting the problematic behavior is the first step towards a solution as abusers will always try to convince the victim that all of it is their fault. Then, she reccomends going on with one’s life undeterred while “pointing out when your partner has been critical or undermining. Be clear you respect yourself and that you expect the same respect from them.”
If the abuse continues, the victim has to ask their partner that they go to therapy. If he or she refuses, or therapy doesn’t seem to help, there is nothing more that can be done and that means it is time to leave.
“Painful as break-ups are, they are less damaging than staying in an emotionally abusive relationship,” Dr. Saltz says.