Emotional abuse : Understanding and coping.

I really hope not, but if it ever happens that your relationship is damaging your self-esteem or making you feel small, as dramatic as it sounds, you are being emotionally abused. The signs of physical abuse are clear but emotional abuse is a grey area. There is no one common sign of emotional abuse and so, we are not often clear if we are being abused. Before we stop calling every negative encounter an instance of emotional abuse, let’s figure out what it is and what it is not. Emotional abuse is not arguing, reacting, getting angry, or even breaking up. You can even yell and say blatant truths on one’s face and still not be abusive. 

When to know it is an abusive relationship?


Emotional abuse is an attempt to control, and here, the weapon of choice is emotion. The abuse is insidious and often the abuser and the victim are unaware of it. Emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence where generally, the abuser is a man and the woman is the victim. But it is not limited to romantic relationships or one gender. Abuse can be directed towards a family member, children or even a colleague.

The abuse ranges from threatening and verbal offense to more intricate mind games like gaslighting and manipulation. The abusive pattern has a set of common signs that can tell you that the relationship has taken an abusive turn.

Says/ does things to frighten you.
Character assassination and victim blaming.
Emotionally unavailable/ has frequent emotional outbursts.
Overly jealous of your relationship with others.
Verbal abuse- name-calling, hostile sarcasm, and shaming.
Threatens to throw you out/file divorce.
Monitors your whereabouts/ calls/ contacts.
Points out your flaws and mistakes. Makes you feel guilty.
Belittles your dreams and achievements.
Makes decisions for you.
Demands obedience. Orders you around, treats you like a servant.
Gaslighting- tells you that you are going crazy.
Has no regards to the boundaries set by you.
Financial abuse.
Turns people against you and humiliates you in front of others.
Shows disregard and disrespect for your feelings.
Withholds affection to get things done their way.
Distances you from your support system.

Are you always walking on eggshells_

Emotional abuse is brain-washing which leads to erosion of self-worth, sense of security and personal value. Abusers are seen to have certain personality disorders like Borderline PD, Narcissistic PD, and Antisocial PD. The victims suffer from long-term anxiety and often face depression and PTSD.

Emotional abuse, like I said, follows a pattern. Once the victim thinks about leaving the relationship or getting help, the abuser becomes very apologetic and tries to woo them back. It is the honeymoon phase. And as soon as the victim falls into the trap of trust, the abuser goes back to the same old abusive patterns. This makes the victim harder to leave. 

What can YOU do?

Unfortunately, most abuse happens in private environment and there is little possibility of third person interference.Untitled design

If you are in an abusive relationship, the first thing to do is involve someone outside of it. The person might be your friend, family or a relationship counselor. If you think of dealing with the issue with your abuser by yourself, make sure the conversation doesn’t get way too heated and you have an escape plan. Holding such conversations in front of family or friends is a good idea. For your own safety, it is best to break up, look for a new job and make yourself secure. It is easier said than done. All the while you are coming up with ways to end the abuse, make sure you take care of yourself and your mental health. Start by setting personal boundaries to break the abuser’s hold over you. If your abuser breaks the boundaries, it is time to make your exit. If you are financially dependent, wait till you become independent or find a trust-worthy person who can support you for the time being.

If you go to a counselor, you might go alone first before taking your partner. Counselors are trained to guide you two towards a more respectful and healthy relationship. You might also consider contacting WOMEN’S AID or MEN’S AID advice lines who help you talk through any relationship issues.

Emotional abuse is a painful wound. GET HELP TODAY.


2 thoughts on “Emotional abuse : Understanding and coping.

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