Signs of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse, also known as mental abuse and psychological abuse, is a form of abuse that can be difficult to define. It takes different forms and results in emotional and mental distress for the victim and can lead to depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The goal of the abuser is to control and hurt the victim. Often, emotional abusers have personality disorders like narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder. The abuse may take place in the confines of an intimate relationship, between parent and child, at work, or even in a bullying situation. The abuser may be male or female. Emotional abuse may be difficult for the victims to identify given that their self-esteem and perception of reality often is eroded by the abuser. This guide provides some common signs to look out for, as well as ways to overcome emotional abuse.
Emotional Abuse Red Flags
- He blames his bad luck on others. He never blames himself.
- He requires constant check-ins and always needs to know where you are.
- He makes mean jokes about you.
- He feels entitled to special treatment and benefits.
- He becomes enraged easily.
- You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around him.
- He doesn’t take responsibility for hurting you.
- He shifts blame.
- Everything has to be his way -- it’s his way or the highway.
- He believes his feelings and opinions are more important than yours.
- He gives you ultimatums and threatens you.
- He makes you feel like something is wrong with you.
- He will deny you affection and communication as punishment for perceived misdeeds.
- He makes you question your perception of reality.
- He is impatient and petty.
- He curses at you.
- He is jealous and possessive of you.
- He isolates you from your friends and family.
- He rushes into the relationship, moving too fast.
- He does not respect your personal boundaries or privacy.
- He gives you occasional presents or compliments so you feel off balance and like maybe really does care for you.
- He is critical and judgmental.
- Small disagreements with him turn into large fights.
- He always believes himself to be the victim.
- He mocks you.
- He denies the abuse even happens.
- He minimizes your feelings and accomplishments.
How to Overcome Emotional Abuse
If you suspect that you’re being subjected to emotional abuse, you probably are. You will not be able to reason with your emotional abuser. His interest is in hurting and controlling you. Nevertheless, tolerating emotional abuse only encourages more. If you’re dating someone who is emotionally abusive to you, the best situation would be to leave. You’ll need to be firm, have a support system in place, and possibly block the abuser from contacting you.
There are some situations where it’s very difficult to escape an emotional abuser. The emotional abuser may be your boss or a family member that you can’t see severing ties with completely. It’s important to stand your ground with the emotional abuser and set firm boundaries. Tell the abuser, “I will not tolerate when you call me names/give me the silent treatment/yell at me.” Then, do not tolerate it. When he starts calling you names, say, “stop the name-calling.” There must be consequences, such as leaving a conversation. It is best to remove yourself from an abusive situation. Nobody deserves such ill-treatment.
Emotional abuse may be combined with other types of abuse, such as physical or sexual abuse. If the abuse his physical, standing up to the abuser may cause him to become enraged and for the abuse to escalate. If you are being abused, please reach out to The National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.