As Women's Aid issues a warning about Love Island's Adam - this is how to spot emotional abuse

22nd Jun 18 | Lifestyle

Look out for behaviour that seeks to undermine you as well as criticism, say Relate.

Love Island

Love Island is known for its light-hearted format and reality drama, but this series has brought the issue of emotional abuse to the fore, after several episodes featured uncomfortable and, at times, difficult to watch scenes between personal trainer Adam and solicitor Rosie.

Things appeared to be going well for the pair, with Rosie revealing to the rest of the house they had “taken their relationship to the next level” in the bedroom. But less than 24-hours later, Adam had moved his attention to newcomer Zara, effectively ditching Rosie.

The contestants had an explosive confrontation, which saw Rosie break down in tears, explaining that his actions had “really hurt” and “upset” her.

 

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“You can’t treat girls like that,” she said, “You will never ever be happy because you are constantly searching for more – you trick girls into thinking that you are in here for a serious relationship; you’re in here to rack up your numbers.”

She added: “You made me believe that we really had something.”

Adam appeared entirely unaffected by the argument, and was criticised for smirking throughout Rosie’s teary delivery, while placing the blame for the breakdown of their relationship on her. Twitter users were quick to call out the personal trainer’s behaviour, saying he was “gaslighting”, a form of psychological manipulation that makes someone question their own perception of reality.

In light of the situation, the domestic violence charity Women’s Aid issued a statement about Adam’s “unacceptable behaviour” saying: “We ask viewers to join her in recognising unhealthy behaviour in relationships and speaking out against all forms of domestic abuse – emotional as well as physical.”

So what actually constitutes emotional abuse? Experts say that spotting the signs isn’t always easy – particularly when the red flags are verbal rather than physical – but there are a variety of types of behaviour to look out for:

Intimidation and threats

“This could be things like shouting, acting aggressive or just generally making you feel scared,” say relationship counselling service Relate. “This is often done as a way of making a person feel small and stopping them from standing up for themselves.”

Criticism

Relate say this could be things like name calling or making lots of unpleasant or sarcastic comments, adding that it “can really lower a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence.”

Embarrassed Boyfriend Trying To Calm Angry Girlfriend in Restaurant
Look out for situations where a partner might undermine you (Thinkstock/PA)

Undermining

This might include things like dismissing your opinion. “It can also involve making you doubt your own opinion by acting as if you’re being oversensitive if you do complain, disputing your version of events or by suddenly being really nice to you after being cruel,” say Relate.

Being made to feel guilty

“This can range from outright emotional blackmail (threats to kill oneself or lots of emotional outbursts) to sulking all the time or giving you the silent treatment as a way of manipulating you,” say Relate.

Economic abuse

Withholding money, not involving you in finances or even preventing you from getting a job are all good examples. “This could be done as a way of stopping you from feeling independent and that you’re able to make your own choices,” say Relate.

A man points in his girlfreind's face
A controlling partner is a red flag (Thinstock/PA)

Telling you what you can and can’t do

“As the examples above make clear, emotional abuse is generally about control,” say Relate. “Sometimes this is explicit. Does your partner tell you when and where you can go out, or even stop you from seeing certain people? Do they try to control how you dress or how you style your hair?” This, Relate say, is a big warning sign that your relationship may be unhealthy.

What to do if you think you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship

Relate say that one of the most helpful first steps if you feel you’re in an abusive relationship, is to speak to someone outside of it.

“If you can talk to someone who isn’t involved, they might be able to lend you a little perspective. This can be particularly useful if you’re not sure where you stand – sometimes, behaviour we’ve become used to can seem quite clearly unreasonable to an objective outsider.”

Relationship counsellors can also help – they can help you and your partner to understand where any abusive behaviour might be coming from and how you can work together to move towards a more mutually respectful and healthy relationship.

Other organisations that also provide support include:

Women’s Aid, which has a 24 hour helpline (1800 341 900). They can talk you through any issues and help you figure out what you’d like to do next. They also have an email service.

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© Press Association 2018

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