Are You in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?
Updated: May 12, 2021
Emotional Abuse can also sometimes be called psychological or mental abuse too. It is
when someone is doing or saying things in order to make you feel bad and it’s used to assert power and control over you. It is considered a type of domestic and family violence. It may not hurt your body or be obvious, but it can be just as painful and distressing. Those facing this type of violence need just as much support.
Not all relationships are perfect but when it is repeated behaviour that causes emotional
harm, there is a cause for concern. In general, a relationship is considered emotionally
abusive if there is a consistent pattern of putting down and bullying behaviours that wear
down the other person’s self-esteem and affects their mental health. Emotional abuse is
without a doubt one of the hardest forms of abuse to identify and is noted for its subtlety,
which can make victims reluctant to seek help. If you feel scared or confused with your
partner or doubt yourself when talking to them and like you’re “walking on eggshells”, you
may be experiencing emotional abuse.
Psychological abuse can include someone regularly:
• Embarrassing you in public or in front of family, friends, support workers or people
you work with
• Recurring put-downs
• Threatening to harm you, your children, or other people who are close to you
• Ignoring you or excluding you
• Extramarital affairs
• Sarcasm and an unpleasant tone of voice
• Meanness disguised as jokes
• Withdrawal of affection
• Making everything your fault
• Placing conditions on things that you do – i.e. saying “If you don’t, I will”
• Doing and saying things that make you feel confused. This might include someone
moving or changing things and then denying they have done this.
• Correcting what you say with the intention of making you look or feel foolish
After these behaviours occur, perpetrators will often supposedly make up for the bad
behaviour by offering gifts or being complimentary and kind – as if this would make up for
the behaviours to date. This is a well-known part of the abuse cycle and it causes victims to
cling onto a glimmer of hope that their partner might be changing their ways.
This type of abuse can happen in any relationship, not just romantic partnerships so this
advice will be useful in those cases too. These cases can be with family members, friends,
co-workers or others. No one has the right to be abusive towards you and you absolutely
deserve help If you are in this situation.
Impact of Emotional Abuse:
• Thoughts and feelings of self-loathing and self-doubt
• Can impact relationships with others:
Pulling back and isolating
Thinking others don’t like them and worry about how people truly see them
Think they will never be good for anyone else
• Eating disorders
• Substance abuse issues
How to Deal with Emotional Abuse?
The first step is to recognise the abuse and acknowledge that it is happening to you. This will help you to better deal with the changes that may come your way.
Make Yourself A Priority
Make sure you take care of your needs and don’t put the abuser’s needs and wants over
your own. This is the best time to practice self-care if you can. Whether that’s maintaining a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, having a good sleep routine – this will set you up when it comes to dealing with the abuse and taking action.
Firmly tell the abusive person that they may no longer behave this way towards you. Inform
them that there will be consequences, such as leaving the room if they are shouting.
Accept That You Can’t Fix Them
You will never be able to change the person by doing something different or being different.
Stop Blaming Yourself
You have no control over the fact that you’re being emotionally abused. The other person is
making a choice to perform abuse. Stop blaming yourself for something you can’t control.
Perpetrators of abuse are expert manipulators and will lead you to believe that being
punished is your fault.
If the abuser starts being insulting, guilt-tripping you or shouting simply walk away. Don’t try to make explanations, soothe their feelings or argue. The only one who will end up getting hurt at the end of the day is you.
Build a Support Network
Surround yourself with trusted friends and family to help you get through. It’s difficult but
speaking up can help. You might also think about engaging a therapist to talk about what
you are experiencing. They will have seen these patterns before and will help you to identify
the various coping mechanisms you will need. Forming this network will help you feel less
lonely and isolated.
Work Out an Exit Strategy
Discuss your thoughts with a trusted friend, family member or counsellor to decide how you are going to approach your exit. Be sure to have a safety plan in place for when you leave. Abuse can escalate when the abused person makes a decision to leave since the perpetrator is losing power.
If this sounds like something you or someone you know is experiencing please feel free to
contact us for support. Of a number of areas we can help you with, we will guide you on
identifying the signs and creating a plan to move forward. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or
call +61 413 992264.