Emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence. It is a pattern of power and control that utilizes behaviors such as insults, manipulation, gas lighting, intimidation, jealousy, possessiveness, isolation, and more.
There are several reasons. As a society, we tend to dismiss it as ¨less serious¨ than physical abuse.
EA is also harder to spot because it can be subtle or disguised as other things.
What are the effects of emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse can diminish an individual’s sense of identity, self worth, dignity, and confidence. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies.
What does emotional abuse look like?
EA can appear in many forms. Here are a few examples.
Insults disguised as ¨jokes¨, humiliating you in public, mocking you and your hobbies/interests/behaviors
Using guilt to get you to change your behaviors such as how you dress, what you eat, and people you see.
Using phrases such as ¨if you really loved me you would…”
Is emotional abuse that bad?
Yes. Many survivors say emotional abuse is as traumatizing or more traumatizing than physical or sexual abuse.
Commonly, EA appears along other forms of abuse such as financial, sexual, and physical.
How can I help?
Familiarize yourself with the warning signs. If someone you know is experiencing EA, reach out and offer support.
How do I know I am being emotionally abused?
Identifying emotional abuse can be tricky. One strategy is to examine specific behaviors, then ask how often the behavior occurs.
For example, if a partner makes a mean remark such as ¨you shouldn’t talk about your promotion, people will think you are snobby” … what is the purpose of this comment? Is it meant to create shame and emotional distress? Is this person trying to make you feel bad about yourself?
Once you identify an action that is a red flag, try to look for a pattern. One remark or criticism does not necessarily mean emotional abuse is occurring. However, a pattern of criticisms is warning sign.
And if you are still unsure, please consider reaching out to the National Domestic Violence Helpline at https://www.thehotline.org/ and 1 (800) 799 7233.
“I remember after I left, my friends told me how they had known what was going on…but said nothing. Why didn’t they say anything? Were they really more afraid of losing my friendship than of me being murdered by my partner? ”.