What’s Inside the Vortex of Emotional Abuse?

We are very clear on what “physical abuse” is.

Physical abuse is actually the easiest form of abuse to identify. There is evidence of it: a bruise, a scrape, a popped blood vessel, a swollen eye…etc.

It’s a form of abuse that doesn’t require someone to believe you on your word, because there is a whole lot of proof THAT YOU CAN SEE – now whether or not you come forward and admit that’s who the mark is from is an entirely different situation.

Often with physical abuse comes, that equally as terrifying monster: emotional abuse. This abuse is very hard to see, very hard to prove and even harder to walk away from.

If you know someone in this situation, I recommend you read Erynn Brooke’s blog on

Stockholm Syndrome & Emotional Abuse – Part II

It will give you the tools to help out your family member, friend or coworker stuck in this horrible vortex.

I call it a vortex for various reasons.

  1. The calmest place in a vortex, is the middle – which is where the abuser is. The emotional manipulation of your abuser will make the world around you seem blurred. They will manipulate your thoughts on your closest friends, your family and your allies  so that the calmest and least stressful place is with them. This is how they control you.
  2. If you enter a vortex, getting out is nearly impossible. You have to work your damnedest to escape. As stated in Erynn’s blog above, it takes “It takes 7-10 tries for a victim to fully leave an abusive relationship.” That is a lot of work, bravery and effort to get out.
  3. There is so much bullshit being thrown at you from your abuser, your world spins. Your thoughts are altered, your world view is skewed and you have very little control.

Now it’s very common, that those inside the vortex have no idea they are in it. This is because of point #1. They are so close to their abuser, the calm place, that they have no idea they are even inside this abusive situation. It’s also very common, that once you finally escape  that is when you realize you were inside it.  It’s when the pink coloured glasses fall off, when reality becomes clear, and when you are far away from your abuser that you realize just how far inside that vortex you were.

I’ve been there.

I’ve been deep inside the vortex and I had no idea.

There were moments when friends would crack the glass on my rose coloured glasses and for a second I would see clearly, but once back in his presence, he’d patch them right up and I’d be back in the middle again.

It’s those moments of clarity with friends or family, or when you are alone – THOSE ARE THE MOMENTS YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO.

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If you have had a moment of clarity where you have thought that perhaps you are inside this vortex – just a second where you questioned your relationship, or questioned the normalcy of what’s occuring, but aren’t quite sure.

Here are certain points and situations that if you identify with, will confirm that you are in fact in an abusive emotional relationship.

  1. You don’t really argue. Instead they yell at you – and you find yourself holding back on your opinion out of fear.
  2. They throw or break things in your presence, perhaps not at you, but it’s “because of you”.
  3. They make you feel guilty or stupid for having certain preferences. This could be a political, religious, sexual  (ie: monogamy/polyamory), or life preferences (ie: marriage/kids), food preferences (i.e. vegan/meat eater) etc.
  4.  They use power to make you feel special. They tell you things they’ve done to exes/others that they would never do to you. (They will do it to you, and they use this tactic on everyone.) This is a huge one – I would recommend reading about Stockholm Syndrome because this is one of the steps to get you there.
  5. They hold back on certain things, making it known just how special you are when they give it to you. This could be something as simple as sex, affection, or sleeping over, calling you a title, telling people about you, bringing you out in public.etc.
  6. They tell you it’s hard to find someone as good as them out in the world. This could be in relation to love, sex, communication. I’ll tell you what – there is and will always be someone else out there for you. Your abuser is doing this to keep you in the middle.
  7. They get angry at you for things you had no idea you did. It could be something as small as calling you “passive aggressive” or “belittling” when you didn’t think you were. Remember that if someone comes to you with an issue about your behaviour they have NO RIGHT to yell at you about it.
  8. They will make small retorts to being jealous about things that you do. Perhaps when you go out wearing a certain type of pant, going out with a certain friend, having a night out..etc. They do this in the hopes that you will decide not to do it, on their behalf. This is a high form of manipulation. If you decided to do it before they tell you not to, then it was “your choice”. The problem is, with manipulation and emotional abuse, your choice was stripped from you long ago.
  9. When you are alone you break down and cry and have no idea why. This isn’t a normal cry, this is a painful, panic attack type of cry that comes from being squandered.
  10. Your love to them feels like a drug.  If this is the highest form of love you have ever felt and you feel the lurking pain of withdrawals when you are not around them – run. This is not real love, this is you needing them. I know many will think that “honeymoon love” is this way, and there is an element of that. But,if you are unsure – take 7 days away from this person. If at the end of five days you feel like you don’t need them…this is a very sure sign that you don’t “love them” but you were manipulated to think that you “need them.” Another test is to journal your thoughts when you are away from them – do you resent them when you are not together? Do you have issues with your relationship? Are there things you think are unfair? Then journal your thoughts after you have been together: is everything amazing again? Is everything resolved? If this is the case – start that fight to get out. You are in the vortex.
  11. If your friends hate them. If your friends tell you that they don’t like how your partner talks to you, treats you, talks about you..etc. LISTEN. Your friend is brave to bring it up, because often when you are in the vortex you find a reason to excuse or attack their opinions about your partner. If you are getting defensive with your friends about their opinion about your partner – seriously question why.
  12. If you know of others who have experienced emotional abuse with this person – believe them. If you choose to ignore those facts, by thinking that you are different, I’m sorry to tell you, but you are not. This is a very hard realization to come to, but if you are being warned about someone’s emotional abuse take them by their word. They are simply trying to warn you about they pain they experienced.
  13. If you saw this title and are reading it because you thought it may pertain to you. When i was experiencing the abuse in my relationship, I googled “abuse” “dating someone abusive” “signs of emotional abuse” hundreds of times in the hopes that one of the articles would confirm what I was feeling. Deep down I knew, but my brain had been so manipulated I couldn’t think clearly on a conscious level.

If you have read this and have come to the conclusion that you are in an abusive relationship, reach out to a friend or family member close to you and tell them everything. If you feel like they’ve all been pushed away due to your relationship reach out to someone you respect, or call a domestic abuse hotline.

I hope none of you experience The Vortex, but if you are there right now – I am here to tell you it gets better. You will come out stronger, and you will be able to truly love again.

~Athena and Hermes~

Speak Up. Tell Your Friend You Hate Their Significant Other.

That’s right. I said it: TELL YOUR FRIENDS IF YOU HATE THEIR PARTNER.

Alright, I may be jumping the gun a little bit – but let me explain.

We live in a world where: we tend to sugar coat things, we tend to appeal to everyone’s feelings before we speak the truth, we struggle to tell people things that may hurt. Now in many ways this can be useful, because speaking in the name of honesty as a way of being cruel is not right either – HOWEVER….

We are avoiding conversations that need to be had among our friends because we fear them.  

One of those conversations is the “I don’t like your partner” conversation. Many feel that it is not their place to judge someone’s significant other. That may very well be true when it comes to your boss, your colleagues, your teachers, etc. etc. etc. However it is important to be honest and candid when it comes to your close friends and your family (dependent on your relationship with them).

I don’t mean when it’s something superficial like the way they dress, their class, their education, or their looks. I mean when its serious things such as: the way they speak to your friend, they way they talk about their friends, they way they treat others, their outlook on life, their values.

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If you disagree with me hear me out.

I dated a man who I thought made me happy – but all of my close friends despised him.  They hated how he spoke to me, how he interrupted me, how he expected me to act a certain way around him, how he never showed his affections to me, how he would scold me, how he would often propose I leave my field of work… the list goes on and on and on.

I couldn’t see any of these things because I was “in love”. By the time it was all over, I realized I had been manipulated, brainwashed and emotionally abused. They all saw it within the first few months but they never told me how much they hated him until AFTER WE BROKE UP! 

I had all of my close friends admit to me they desperately wanted to tell me just how terrible he was to me, but were worried it would ruin our friendship.

Three of HIS friends approached me after we broke up to tell me they wanted to broach the topic, but were worried it would make it’s way back to him.

My aunt, who only met him twice, told me after it was over that she despised him upon first meeting, but didn’t want to tell me as she didn’t feel it was her business.

My exes mother even told me her son was not good enough for me and  she wished me the best in finding someone better, after it all ended.

I WISH THEY HAD TOLD ME THOUGH.

I realized I am an adult and I can make my own decisions, but had nine people told me that there was something off about my relationship, I may have slowly had the rose colored glasses fade sooner. Perhaps I could have seen what was occurring and escaped a bad situation a year sooner than I had. Naturally the choice would be in my hands, but being offered another perspective is always useful in any situation.

If you are a friend of someone who is dating or married to someone awful, you are in a very difficult position. You have to risk the friendship in speaking the truth, which is why many people avoid it.

My advice is to 1) either send them this blog and let them figure it out or 2) breach the topic from a place of love and not of blaming. Ask them questions, allow them to realize they deserve better, they are worthy of true respect and love. You can even bring up the fear of losing the friendship over this conversation and make it clear you care about them and just want to make sure they are truly happy. If your friend is truly happy your comments will not affect them. If they aren’t however, the seed you planted will grow and they will eventually see the truth.

When I was in this toxic relationship one of my closest friends asked me: “Are you happy with this arrangement?” and I said to her “… yeah I’m okay with it.” and she said: “Okay Athena, if you are then I’m happy for you. Just keep checking in and making sure it’s constantly true. If it’s not, that’s okay – just ask yourself why.”

I went home that night and cried… it wasn’t true.

The truth was that I was miserable and trapped and believed that he was the only one who would ever love me. That belief is what kept me there. It wasn’t until she asked me that question that I woke up from my trance and started to realize there was so much more past the relationship. I was capable of so much more and deserved so much more.

Three months after that conversation the seed she planted grew and I was able to dump my toxic boyfriend.

Some of you reading this may be thinking:

“MY FRIEND WON’T LISTEN THOUGH. “

They may not respond positively right away, they may not take your advice right away, they may not accept what you are saying right away… but the key words here are: RIGHT AWAY. Your words will seep into their mind, they will digest it and they will dwell on it. When it is all said and done, they will thank you for it.

If you care about your friends, SPEAK UP. 

Just remember to do it with kindness and not judgement.

(Let me be clear, if you don’t like your friends significant others for reasons that are superficial, or judgmental that have nothing to do with treatment or abusive behaviors this article is not promoting a conversation. Tune in with yourself and your thoughts on this person before you have the talk to be sure you are doing it for your friends safety and well being and not your own issues) 

~Athena and Hermes~