If a comment or action makes you feel bad, it’s your right to express your discomfort directly and to expect a genuine apology. Respectful partners should build each other up, not purposefully put each other down.

What Belittling Sounds Like

  • Yelling or screaming at you to get a reaction.
  • Insulting you—calling you fat, ugly or stupid—or criticizing your parenting skills or intelligence.
  • Ignoring how you feel, disregarding your opinion or failing to recognize your contributions.
  • Humiliating or embarrassing you, especially in front of family or friends.
  • Making you the butt of jokes or offhand comments that disparage you and then saying something like, “I didn’t mean it. I’m just teasing,” or telling you that you’re being too sensitive.
  • Bringing up past failures or mistakes as evidence of your incompetence or lack of intelligence.
  • Forcing you to agree with them instead of forming or expressing your own opinion.
  • Treating you as their property or as someone who has no value other than as a sex object.
  • Denying the belittling, blaming it on you or criticizing you for making too big a deal out of it.
  • Minimizing the seriousness of their abuse or accusing you of overreacting to their words or behaviors.
  • Blaming you for their abusive behavior, but then turning around and telling you how much they love you.

You may be experiencing some or all of these factors and still wonder, “Is this abuse?” It’s a hard pill to swallow, believing that the person you love and trust can be purposefully trying to hurt you as a means of power and control. But ask yourself this: Are you afraid of your partner? Do you walk on eggshells whenever he or she is around? Is the belittling becoming a regular occurrence? Does your partner lack remorse for hurting you?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may need to face the reality that your partner is abusive. It can help to reach out to a trained domestic violence advocate and talk about your specific situation.

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