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Emotional abuse can be invisible, even to those being abused

Though people often try to hide signs of physical abuse, the evidence is there in cuts, bruises and black eyes. They may try to downplay verbal abuse, but people know what's happening when they hear shouting matches and insults.

Emotional abuse, though, is often much harder -- and even impossible -- to spot from the outside. In some cases, though, a person will feel worse when being emotionally abused and he or she may not even fully see what is going on.

Though emotional abuse can take many forms, it's composed of nonphysical behavior that batters a person's spirit. This may be done through intimidation, by controlling someone or subjugating them, by demeaning them or by punishing and isolating that person. Often, it is all about power and dominance, and one spouse seeks to be in full control of the other.

Rather than having a balanced marriage where two people work together as a team, then, you get a marriage where one person feels like a second-class member of the relationship. Even though the abusive spouse may never yell, he or she does little things to crush the other person's spirit and make sure he or she stays in that lower position.

This behavior can, over time, lead to a very hostile marriage climate, and it could bring about a divorce. Even though it's harder to recognize emotional abuse, it is still ripping the marriage apart and it can be very detrimental to one spouse's self-esteem and sense of value. If you think any type of abuse is pushing your marriage toward a divorce, you must know how to get the legal process underway.

Source: Empower Her, "Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Marriage Killer," Darlene Oakley, accessed Nov. 11, 2016

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