Love Island: Emotional Abuse

In recent news, speculation has arisen about whether or not Adam, on popular reality show Love Island, has displayed ‘clear warning signs’ of emotionally abusive behaviour, as the charity Women’s Aid have claimed. As a nation, we can agree that the actions of Adam towards many women on the show appear unkind and callous- but is this emotionally abusive? The artificial setting of the reality show, along with the highly edited footage, means that we are only privy to one of twenty four hours each day- and that hour is edited for the purpose of good entertainment. Because of this, accusing Adam of being emotionally abusive seems unwarranted and speculative, and that is not what Mums In Need would like to do. What this current media headline does allow us to do, however, as Women’s Aid representative Katie Ghose said, is to start a conversation.

We wanted to get involved with the conversation by sharing what are genuine signs of emotional abuse within a relationship that women should be able to identify. Emotional abuse is a lot more subtle, and often harder to spot, than physical abuse, both for sufferers themselves and friends and families of those who are affected. Here are 10 signs of emotional abuse that may help you to determine whether your relationship is a healthy one, and if you should seek help:

  • Gas lighting

Take Adam’s behaviour out of the televised situation and into a real life relationship, and one sign of emotionally abusive behaviour Katie Ghose identifies in the islander is gas lighting. This is where the abuser forces their partner to question their memory of events and begins to contradict and deny things they have said in the past. This manipulation causes the partner to doubt themselves and question reality and makes them feel like they are to blame for the misinterpretation.

  • Abusive ‘jokes’

Your partner may disguise offhand insults as simple jokes, using them to undermine you in public and in front of your friends and family. They laugh hurtfully at your expense and then claim that you are just being too sensitive when you become offended.

  • Irrational guilt

They make you feel bad for their behaviour, manipulating the situation until you believe that you’re at fault. You are being too sensitive about the unkind things they say and need a better sense of humour; it’s your fault they don’t trust you to go out without knowing where you are because you’re untrustworthy; you should not have wound them up if you didn’t want them to get so angry, they claim.

  • Overprotection

They demand to know where you are and who you are with at all times. They insist on proof of where you’ve been and may even implement a curfew. They disguise it as caring behaviour and pretend that it is a form of genuine concern, when really it is a form of control.

  • Unprovoked jealousy

They do not trust the friends you have around you, even though there is little explanation as to why. They think your family are trying to turn you against them, and that you should stop spending so much time with them. Eventually your circle becomes smaller and smaller until it is just you and them because it is no longer worth the arguments you have when you try and see other people.

  • Financial control

This may begin as helpful advice on how to be careful with your money, but may soon escalate. Suddenly your spending is monitored and questioned, and you are no longer freely allowed to spend the money that you have earned. You are not consulted on anything your partner wants to buy, but the option of purchasing anything without your partner’s consent is no longer valid.

  • Emotional stonewalling

Sometimes for days at a time, and often without any explanation, your partner may withdraw from you emotionally and physically. Suddenly they are refusing to make eye contact, meeting your conversation only with silence and maintaining a constant coldness whilst making it implicitly clear that whatever it is, it is your fault.

  • Grand gestures

If your partner feels they have acted beyond even what they see as acceptable behaviour, they may make a sudden grand gesture in order to try and appease you- this may be treating you to your favourite meal out or splashing the cash on an extravagant weekend away. The purpose is to overcompensate for that which they have done, and to buy your silence.

  • Preferring to be by yourself

You may start to feel a relief when your partner informs you that they are going out for the evening, or are spending a few days away for work purposes. This is because you are used to the constant stress of trying to please them and you no longer have the pressure of them controlling your every move. Being alone feels like a weight has been lifted.

  • Lack of empathy

Your partner is unable to show compassion for any of your problems, and you are judged for being too overly emotional and overreacting. This is a form of control which pressures you to forget your own worries and to retain your focus entirely on them.

If you experience any of these forms of emotional abuse and would like to get in touch to seek help and guidance, please go to our contact us page.

We are not accusing Adam of being emotionally abusive as we understand the exaggerated and dramatic circumstances of the show, but this situation has had the positive impact of providing the opportunity to discuss what emotional abuse looks like within a real life relationship and how to recognise these signs. It raises awareness of emotional abuse and the pain that so many people go through in abusive relationships. And that is why charities like Mums In Need are here to support you through any emotional abuse you have suffered, or are still suffering. Our message is that there is help if you need it, so please just ask.