psychological abuse
Credit: HuffPost

Emotional abuse is an elusive and difficult to recognize form of domestic violence that can crush the psyche and self worth of any human being.  The exact prevalence of emotional abuse is unknown, as many times it goes unreported or unrecognized.  Emotional abuse oftentimes occurs in conjunction with physical abuse, or may escalate to physical abuse.  Below is a list of red flags you may notice within yourself that can signal an emotionally abusive relationship.

You know you are being emotionally abused when:

You are surprised each time you upset your partner.  They get angry or irritated with you several times a week even though you hadn't meant to upset them.  This can occur when expecting a mutual discussion, yet your partner becomes upset and begins to engage in emotionally abusive behaviors, such as name-calling, giving the silent treatment, or playing the victim and blaming.

Your discussions leave you feeling bad. Whenever you attempt to talk about your hurt feelings or concerns, you feel the issue is never resolved in a satisfactory way.  You leave the discussion without feeling happy or relieved, or as if you both have "made up."

You feel confused.  Emotional abuse can be extremely confusing, and that is oftentimes the goal of the emotionally abusive partner.  They may refuse to understand your intentions, and twist your words to make it so they are blameless.  

You often feel bad about yourself.  Emotional abuse will frequently make you feel bad about yourself.  You may wonder what is wrong with you, or why you frequently feel inadequate.

You feel a loss of your own personhood.  Emotionally abusive people have no boundaries, and they work to make sure you have none either.  In an emotionally abusive relationship, you may feel a loss of your identity, and completely enmeshed with your partner.  You may find yourself giving up activities you used to enjoy, and you may start to lose pieces of your personality the abuser deems unacceptable in an effort to avoid confrontation.

Communication issues frequently worry you.  Instead of worrying about concrete issues, such as how much time to spend together, or where to go for holiday vacation, rather the issues in communication predominate your concerns about the relationship.  In other words, you start to notice such a severe breakdown in communication with your partner, that it overtakes any other trepidations you might have about the partnership.

You feel your views and opinions are always wrong.  To the emotional abuser, they are always right.  You may find your partner taking views opposite yours, or completely discounting your opinions.  You feel like you are always wrong, or as if your views don't matter to your partner.


While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a start to recognizing the difference between a healthy relationship and an abusive one.   There are many more resources and support avenues available at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is available 24/7:   1-800-799-SAFE or TTY 1-800-787-3224.  

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