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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Baker

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

• Name-calling

• 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

• Guilt-tripping

• 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

• Depression

• 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

• Anxiety

• Insomnia

• 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.

Establish Boundaries

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.

Avoid Engaging

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 or

call +61 413 992264.


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