Identifying Emotional Abuse in Romantic Relationships

Emotional and verbal abuse can sometimes be harder to spot than physical abuse. Take control and stop accepting mistreatment in relationships!

Is it Abuse?

Emotional abuse consists of words or actions used to degrade, isolate, or control you in a relationship. This form of abuse can often first be mistaken as caring or concern, but is based on manipulation. Abusers tend to justify their actions by being extra nice after an episode, or even by blaming you instead. They make it easy to question whether you’re overreacting. If you do not feel properly loved or safe, your gut is probably right. Below are some specific examples of emotional abuse that might sound familiar:

Patterns of Emotional Abuse

Control and Isolate

One of the telltale signs of manipulation is purposefully separating you from your friends and family. Their reasoning may be that they don’t get along well with them, or would prefer to spend time alone. However, the abuser uses this to gain sole power over your life and make you feel alone.

Threats and “Jokes”

Another sign of abuse is degrading jokes or suggestive comments that make you feel unsafe or unloved. This may involve threatening to take something important away from you, or insulting your intelligence. By doing this, the abuser makes you feel worthless and scared.

Gaslighting and Blame

While you may try to confront your partner about abusive treatment, they may turn it against you instead.

Gaslighting is when an abuser distorts reality and makes you question your own sanity. Signs of gaslighting may involve denying having said something abusive or calling you crazy for remembering something incorrectly.

What Can I Do?

Don’t Blame Yourself

While it may be tempting, don’t try to find reasons behind the abuse. Arguing with the abuser is unlikely to break the pattern.

If it’s possible, leave the relationship or limit your time with the abuser as much as possible. Once you’ve done this, allow yourself time to recover and heal.

Seek Help

If you feel you are in immediate danger call 911. If you do not feel you are in immediate danger, but still need emergency help, reach out to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

Remember, despite what your abuser wants you to think, you are not alone. If you are hesitant to approach others, feel free to reach out to our Supportiv moderators to share your experiences.

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