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What Is Considered Emotional Abuse? 5 Crucial Signs To Identify It

What Is Considered Emotional Abuse? 5 Crucial Signs To Identify It

While physical abuse might be easier to get identified, the case is not the same with psychological or emotional abuse. A lot of people find both, emotional and physical abuse, equally damaging. It must be clarified that these two, in most cases, travel together. Consequences of emotional abuse can lead to severe illness and several disorders, which later on indirectly affect physical health as well. Emotional abuse can be present in every kind of relationship. The abuser can be a family member, a coworker, a friend, a romantic partner – so it’s mostly a person you trust and love.
In this article, we are going to focus on romantic relationship abuse only.

How to identify and what is considered emotional abuse? It’s something that happens between a manipulative or abusive person and a victim; where the abuser uses psychological tricks on the victim, to have outputs from different situations serve in their favor. The scars of emotional abuse might not be visible to the eye, but the effect it has on the victim can be traumatic for the rest of their life.

To identify emotional abuse is often a difficult thing to do. That mostly because none of the pairs in most cases is fully aware of the harm they are doing to themselves or to their partner. The victim tries to avoid the fights and arguing by submitting to their abusers’ tricks through which they tend to gain power and control in a relationship. But there are several signs who can help anyone out to recognize an abusive relationship. Here we are listing 5 out of the most crucial and important signs to detect this kind of mental abuse.

emotional abuse

#1. Your partner is frequently being offensive and criticizing you

At the beginning of the relationship, abusers usually pretend to be very charming and devoted. They try to know you better and please your wishes in order to win your trust, make you fall for them and create a positive connection. This is recognized as ‘grooming’ and it’s the phase which connects positive emotions and experiences to the predator, narcissist, or psychopathic individual. Later on, when the abuser feels secure enough that they have the victim under their spell, they start treating them like a kick in the teeth. They start insulting, threatening, ridiculing, shaming, intimidating, swearing, name-calling, lying, belittling, ignoring the victim and constantly criticizing them for no rational reason mostly.


#2. Your partner uses stonewalling and gas-lighting to have supremacy over the relationship

Preston Ni, an expert in interpersonal effectiveness and professional communication fields, and the author of ‘How to Successfully Handle Gaslighters & Stop Psychological Bullying,’ defines gas-lighting as a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing which causes the victim to doubt her or himself. This way the victim ultimately loses their own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.

Is your partner declaring reality for you when arguing? In order to make you believe the perception that supports how they see things, they distort and deny how things really are; usually blaming you for the conflict caused. When the abuser doesn’t want to argue, will use stonewall. While you try to address concerns, the person who is stonewalling acts like you are unimportant and have nothing of value to say. 


#3. An abusive partner almost never steps up to personal responsibility

Stepping up to personal responsibility is a hard move to do for an abusive partner. Instead of apologizing, he or she deflects and blames. You know you rarely feel loved, but they claim you are off your rails and unappreciative of the good treatment you receive. Any time you push back or question, even just a little, your partner loses it and claims you’re being dismissive. You feel completely trapped and confused when it’s pretty clear you aren’t at fault. Actually, you might find yourself apologizing even when you’ve done nothing wrong.

emotional abuse

#4. Monitors your time, whereabouts and telephone calls/texts

This is just another way of controlling you and crossing your personal boundaries. Emotional controllers are masters at monitoring you. They will do it and will either guilt you into staying put or threaten you if you step out of line.

By finding different kinds of pretexts to make you think they are actually not crossing personal lines, they will monitor you in such a way that might not look that obvious, but indeed is and will make you feel as if you are walking on eggshells.

Remember, you are an adult with a total right to privacy and also deserve to have the right to contact whomever you wish without interference.


#5. Physical aggression is present, whether or not it’s directed at you.

Maybe this time your partner broke a glass or a chair out of frustration, but next time your body might be the target! Never (read again: Never) underestimate aggressive behavior. This kind of behavior is a clue of their real hidden colors.

Hitting, choking, pushing, and all other acts of violence are abuse. Punching walls or slamming a door in someone’s face is considered abuse too. The extreme stress of enduring threatening acts that don’t physically hurt you is very REAL. Until the physical violence starts to get real, too.

If the victim leaves the abuser following the violent incident, they will usually try extremely hard to win the victim back by giving them gifts, being loving, caring and attentive, and be promising that they will never hurt them again. The level of affection might rise for some time. The victim may return, wanting to believe that the abuser has changed. In fact, many victims return to their abuser out of fear, because they feel needed, or to protect the abuser from harming themselves. If the victim refuses to go back, the violence may escalate even more. This is the time in which most domestic violence murders occur. 


Pay attention to these signs, because abusive relationships can harm your approach to future relationships; damage your emotional/psychological health with life-lasting effects and make you lose trust in finding true love.

It is usually only in the aftermath of the relationship that the target realizes that they were involved in a game orchestrated by a controlling/callous partner and not a real relationship.

If you are in such relationship, leave and do that for your own good. No matter how much you care, how much you invested in this relationship, how much you love your abusive partner; if it’s hurting you – it isn’t love, my dear.

At some point post-split, grab a piece of paper and outline what you want — and what you absolutely refuse to accept — in your next relationship, said Abby Rodman, a psychotherapist, and author of Should You Marry Him?: A No-Nonsense, Therapist-Tested Guide to Not Screwing Up the Biggest Decision of Your Life.

emotional abuse

The other side of the medal, of course, could be that you found out that some (or all) of these signs, unfortunately, match with the way you behave towards your partner, then it’s time to stop and think. The way you treat your partner, tells a lot about you. Not only how you look in the eyes of your partner or others, but regarding your emotional state too. You might be struggling with low self-esteem or self-confidence, or have a distorted view of yourself. However it might be, being aware is one step closer to improving. There is always help offered when asked. Accepting negative aspects of ourselves is one of the hardest things to do, but also one of the most beneficial ones too. Avoid hurting and harming people you love, because in this way you are going to destroy yourself mostly.

Make a life-changing move for your own good sake – be a better person or leave that harmful relationship as soon as possible.


(Read also: Man Who Was Terrifically Abused By His Girlfriend Speaks Out)

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