Signs of Emotional Abuse 

Several non-physical behaviors can be signs of emotional abuse including insults, threats, excessing texting, constant monitoring or checking in, stalking, intimidation, humiliation or isolation. Emotional abuse is sometimes elusive and unlike physical abuse, the people involved might not even realize it is happening. At times it is more harmful than physical abuse since it can lessen what someone thinks of themselves. If you let something that isn’t true define you, it can wind up crippling all that you are meant to be. Emotional abuse can occur between husband and wife, between parents and children, between friends and relatives.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

It always starts out small, but emotional abuse has to start somewhere. The simplest way to test if you are being abused emotionally is by asking yourself if the behavior of others hurts you mentally. Emotional abuse after all is not always inflicted on you as a means of suppression. Emotional abuse sometimes can also begin from ignorance and neglect. If you believe you are being abused, take a look at the signs of emotional abuse below to see if this is the case.

1. Controlling & Isolation

The victim will have controlled by the abuser, whom they see, plus where they go, what they do and who they speak to. This can be in the form of just not allowing them to use the phone, have their friends around or visit family, making sure that it just isn’t worth it by being in a sour mood because they didn’t do some housework or making them feel guilty that they were out enjoying themselves while the abuser worked. 

2. Verbal Abuse

More than just name calling, the abuser might use insulting, critical or humiliating remarks, he could withhold conversation and leave issues not discussed or even keeping you up late into the night, insisting on talking when you need to get to sleep. Your sense of worth is destroyed by verbal abuse, along with who you think you are by discounting your opinions, ideals or beliefs.

3. Rejection

Refusing to acknowledge the worth or value of a person or their presence, devaluating their thoughts and feelings, and giving someone the impression that he/she is inferior or useless. An example of this would be treating a child repeatedly different than their siblings in a way which suggests resentment, dislike for the child or rejection.

4. Intimidation

This is the act of inducing extreme fear or terror in someone, or threatening to place or placing someone in a dangerous or unfit environment. Examples of this include physically hurting or killing a person, people they care about or pets, threatening to leave, threatening to destroy someone’s possessions, stalking, or threatening to have someone deported or placed into an institution.

5. Jealousy

This is a prominent trait of an abuser. A spouse or partner who is abusive is many times jealous of you, other people or even your goals and dreams. Their rage and jealousy over things that are intangible like your aspirations comes from a lack of control which they feel over those particular parts of your life.

6. Others Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • The abuser expects you to be a servant. An emotional abuser will go through life feeling that they are entitled to be treated royally, and want you to be their willing servant. They expect you to do it all and will never give you any help.
  • An abuser can use economic power to control you, such as controlling all the money and only giving you certain amounts for particular things.
  • An abuser will anger easily and can smash things around you such as furniture, walls or possessions you own.
  • An abuser will try to control you by putting any blame on you, denying you things or minimizing you.
  • Your abuser may make light of what they are doing to you and not take your concerns seriously.
  • You may find that your abuser will emotionally degrade you in private, but act charming when you are out in public together.
  • You can experience humiliation from your abuser in public or private.
  • Your abuser can withhold appreciation, approval or affection as punishments.

Harms of Emotional Abuse

The effects of emotional abuse are not reported frequently enough, and the effects of it are often minimized. The old adage of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” just isn’t true. Many physical and sexual abuse survivors in fact have stated that the emotional part of the abuse was much more devastating.

1. Hurt Self-Esteem

In the end, the outcome of emotional abuse is that the victim becomes scared to be left by themselves. In most cases they think that no one else will want to be with them except their abuser. They therefore continue to stay in the abusive relationship. The victim also feels ashamed of the abuse and keeps it a secret. However, this only makes their situation worse.

2. Cause Mental Disorders

When the emotional abuse is allowed to continue, the symptoms will worsen and could lead to serious psychological and emotional disorders. You should remember that there is no need to ever feel afraid or trapped in any relationship, especially with the ones you respect, love and trust.

How to Deal With Emotional Abuse

Coping with any emotional abuse can be quite difficult. An unfair playing field is created by the abuser so that they can feel in control. However, if you believe you are in one of these relationships, you need to take it seriously and go about trying to solve the problem or there will be a great chance that it can escalate and get physical.

1. Evaluate Your Situation

Assess your situation and remember that assertiveness and courage are needed for you to stand up to your abuser who will many times very much resemble a childhood bully. In places such as your place or work, find help from co-workers, supervisors or human resources.

2. Restore Confidence and Courage

Practice of being assertive in different situations. This will enable you to gain courage and strength to stand up to your abuser. If you are able to speak up to your boss for example about a bonus you never received, you’ll find it easier to start to assert yourself with anyone who is emotionally abusing you.

3. Control Your Emotion

Your emotions need to be kept in check, since emotional responses can give your abuser the chance to abuse you even more. Well thought-out and rational responses that are said in a calm, clear voice have a better chance of making an impact which is positive.

4. Balance the Relationship

Take charge of the relationship with your abuser; you will never find peace by accepting the abuse. Recognize your part in the relationship and change how you relate to your abuser. For instance, if your abuser continually criticizes your cooking each night, let them calmly know you won’t stand for it and that if it continues that you’ll need to share the responsibilities of cooking with them.

5. Draw a Line

You need to set up boundaries which are reasonable and clear and stick to them to have an honorable relationship. Make your abuser aware that you recognize your responsibility in allowing the disrespect in the past, but now it has to end.

6. Express Your True Feeling

Both partners have to learn new ways of expressing true emotions to end any shaming, blaming and punishing. Find ways to express your strongest and deepest feelings that will portray support and respect like a blog, diary or group of very close friends or family members, or even a professional.

7. Leave Your Abuser

Sometimes the relationship is can't be saved. For the sake of your mental and physical health, you should attempt to recognize this as early as possible. Be careful when you are leaving a relationship that is abusive, even if it’s just emotionally abusive. You can get help in developing a safety plan by contacting a hotline.

Watch a video to know more about emotional abuse and how to deal with it: