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Emotional Abuse

1. Emotional Health and Wellbeing 2. Emotional Abuse        3. How Can I Help Myself Cope with Emotional Abuse
4. Are You Emotionally Abusing someone?  5. Information on Treatment and Support for Emotional Abuse


2. Emotional Abuse

Someone who is emotionally abusive in relationships tries to decrease confidence, self-esteem and independence as a way of trying to gain control and make the victim extremely reliant on them. There are many tactics that have been known to be used to try and have a strong hold on the victim making them feel they have nothing but their partner.

What is emotional abuse?

  • Intimidation and threats.  This is a way of scaring the victim to make them do what they want to them do. This can be done through screaming and yelling, breaking things, through looks or gestures, aggression, over reacting to a small "mistake" you have made or just generally being made to feel scared. 
  • Dominance is needed to be felt by the abusive individual to feel in charge and in control of the relationship. You may feel like you are being treated like a child or that you are the person's possession or property. Refusing to stop "joking around" or "pretending to play fight" when you have asked, even if at first you go along with it because it's just a little bit of fun and banter, if you have had enough and ask them to stop the other person involved has to respect that and listen, not carry on to the point you feel panicked and even hysterical. This is emotional abuse and the abuser may try make you feel like you are overreacting. 
  • Humiliation and criticism is used to make the victim feel powerless or to try and lower your self-esteem. This can be done through name calling, public humiliations and put downs, shaming and insults, not approving of your actions or choices or criticising you for the way you see things in the world, your views your judgement, everything is criticised. This is because they believe that if you feel worthless about yourself that no one else will want you so you are less likely to leave the relationship. Humiliation doesn’t always happen in front of others it can take place even in private 
  • Isolation is used by the abuser to try and get you to cut off from friends or family and even try stopping you going to work or school. This is used to make the victim more dependent on the abuser 
  • Denial and blame or being made to feel guilty. Abusive people will have an excuse for everything. They may blame their behaviour on past experiences or their childhood. They may also put the blame on you making you believe that it is your fault they are acting like this and you may feel guilty. If you raise a problem with them about something they may be doing and they deny that this is happening or make out it is "no big deal" and that you are overreacting. This can make the victim feel like they are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, harassed, easily irritated, distant and even hysterical. They may also make you seem like you're the one who is abusive as they can appear to be calm and have self-control 
  • Violating your privacy or abusing information. If someone always reads through your messages, letters or goes through all your social media without your permission or stands over you and invades your personal space this is a violation of your privacy. They may also use information they have found or that you have told them for their personal gain to try and manipulate you, they may interpret the information to work in their favour. 
  • Gas lighting is another manipulation tactic abusers use. Gas lighting is defined as manipulating someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity. For example presenting false information to the victim making them question their own memory and version of events. They may deny things have happened and that you are imagining it even you are 100% sure they happened, this then causes you to doubt yourself and you then accept this "forced reality".


Many people may not want to describe some "difficulties" as abusive but if it makes you feel small, lacking confidence, scared, harassed, and anxious or controlled it is abuse. People may think they are doing these things because they are being caring or extra cautious because someone in their past has cheated on them but that is not an excuse it is a way of having power and control over you.



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