SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE: What are the Warning Signs from Children, Relationships & Marriages

Sins of emotional Abuse

Some signs of abuse, such as physical injury marks on the body, are obvious. Other types of abuse may be more difficult to detect or comprehend. Some signs of emotional abuse may be clear from outside the situation, but the victim may miss them or be ignorant that the situation is abusive at all.

Abusive people often abuse those with whom they have a close relationship. For example, they could be abusing their partner.

However, emotional abuse can occur in other sorts of relationships as well. Emotional abuse can occur with a business partner, close team member, parent, caregiver, or close friend. Learning more about the warning signs and events that can lead to emotional abuse in the marriage, children, and other relationships can help people identify their situation and seek the assistance they require.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is a method of exerting control over another person by using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or otherwise influence them. In general, a relationship is emotionally abusive when there is a continuous pattern of abusive remarks and bullying behaviors that impair a person’s self-esteem and mental health.

Furthermore, while most common in dating and marriage relationships, mental or emotional abuse signs can be seen in any relationship.

Emotional abuse is one of the most difficult types of abuse to identify. It can be subtle, sneaky, or obvious and manipulative. In either case, it erodes the victim’s self-esteem and causes them to question their views and reality.

Emotional abuse’s primary purpose is to dominate the victim by denigrating, isolating, and silencing them.

Finally, the sufferer feels stuck. They are frequently too damaged to continue the relationship, but they are also too terrified to quit. As a result, the cycle simply repeats itself unless something is done.


Emotional Abuse Warning Signs in Marriage and Relationships

Emotional abuse is typically used by one person to exert control over another. If you’re concerned that you’re being abused by your partner in your marriage or relationship, look for these warning signs of emotional abuse.

#1. Defamation, Denial, and Criticism

These strategies are designed to lower your self-esteem. In both great and minor matters, the abuse is brutal and merciless.

Following are some examples of the warning signs of this emotional abuse in relationships:

  • Name-calling. They’ll openly call you “dumb,” “a loser,” or other derogatory terms.
  • Pet names” that are derogatory. This is simply more name-calling in a less-than-subtle disguise. “My tiny knuckle dragger” or “My pudgy pumpkin” are not affection phrases.
  • Character assassination. This is generally accompanied by the phrase “always.” You’re usually late, wrong, making mistakes, disagreeable, and so on. They basically say you’re not a good person.
  • Yelling. Screaming, yelling, and swearing are intended to frighten and make you feel tiny and insignificant. It could be accompanied by fist-pounding or tossing of objects.
  • Patronizing. “I know you try, honey, but this is just beyond your comprehension.”
  • Embarrassment in public. They start conflicts, reveal your secrets, or publicly criticize your flaws.
  • Dismissiveness. You inform them about something vital to you, and they dismiss it. Eye-rolling, smirking, headshaking, and sighing all help to express the same idea.
  • Insults on your physical attractiveness. They tell you right before you go out that your hair is unattractive or that your dress is clownish.
  • Undermining your accomplishments. Your abuser may convince you that your accomplishments are meaningless, or they may even claim credit for your success.
  • Negative comments about your hobbies. They may tell you that your interest is a childish waste of time or that you are out of your league. It’s more that they’d prefer you not participate in events without them.

#2. Control and humiliation

Trying to make you feel ashamed of your shortcomings is just another way to gain power.

The following are some of the tools used in the shame and control game:

  • Threats. They tell you they’ll take the kids and disappear or say, “You never know what I’ll do.”
  • Your whereabouts are being tracked. They constantly want to know where you are and want you to answer calls or texts right away. They might show up merely to ensure you’re where you should be.
  • Digital espionage. They may examine your internet history, emails, texts, and call histories. They may even request your passwords.
  • Decisions are made unilaterally. They may close a shared bank account, cancel a doctor’s appointment, or contact your boss without your permission.
  • Financial command. They may keep bank accounts only in their name and force you to ask for money. You may have to account for every penny spent.
  • Lecturing. Long monologues elaborating on your mistakes make it evident that they think you’re beneath them.
  • Making direct orders. Regardless of your plans, commands are expected to be followed. From “Get my food on the table now” to “Stop taking the pill.”
  • Outbursts. You were ordered to cancel your friend’s outing or park the car in the garage, but you didn’t. So you now have to put up with a red-faced tirade about how difficult you are.
  • Treat you as a child. They instruct you on what to dress, what to eat, how much to eat, and who you can see.
  • Pretending to be helpless. They can claim that they don’t know how to do something. Things are sometimes easier to do yourself than it is to explain it. They are aware of this and take advantage of it.

#3. Accusations, blame, and denial

This behavior is a result of the abuser’s anxieties. They seek to establish a hierarchy in which they are on top, and you are at the bottom.

Following are some examples of the warning signs of this emotional abuse in relationships:

  • Jealousy. They suspect you of flirting with or cheating on them.
  • The tables have been turned. They claim that your annoyance contributes to their wrath and control issues.
  • Denying what you know to be true. An abuser will deny that there was ever a dispute or even an agreement. This is known as gaslighting. It’s designed to make you doubt your own recollection and sanity.
  • Making use of guilt. They may remark something along the lines of, “You owe me something”. “Look at everything I’ve done for you,” they say in an attempt to get their way.
  • Goading, followed by blaming. Abusers know exactly how to irritate you. However, once the trouble begins, it is your fault for causing it.
  • They deny their abuse. When you complain about their attacks, abusers will deny it, as though perplexed by the concept.
  • Trivializing. When you express your injured feelings, they accuse you of exaggerating and making mountains out of molehills.
  • Saying you don’t have a sense of humor. Abusers make personal snide remarks about you. If you object, they will tell you to relax.
  • They are blaming you for their troubles. Whatever is going wrong in their life is entirely your fault. You haven’t been supportive, done enough, or placed your nose where it doesn’t belong.

#4. Isolation and emotional neglect

Abusers prioritize their own emotional demands over yours. Many abusers will try to isolate you from those who care about you to make you more reliant on them.

They accomplish this by:

  • Demands of Respect. You are expected to submit to them; no perceived insult will go unpunished. However, it is a one-way street.
  • Communication is being cut off. They will ignore any attempts at interaction, whether in person, via text, or by phone.
  • Making fun of you. When they speak to you, they will either glance away or fix their gaze on something else.
  • Preventing you from mingling. They come up with a distraction or beg you not to go whenever you make plans to go out.
  • Attempting to put a stumbling block between you and your family. They will inform family members that you do not want to see them. They will make up excuses for your absence from family activities.
  • Withdrawing affection: They will not touch you, hold your hand, or pat you on the back. They may withhold sexual interactions as a kind of punishment or to compel you to accomplish something.
  • Tuning you out. When you want to talk about your relationship, they will shrug you off, shift the subject, or simply ignore you.
  • Working hard to turn others against you. They will inform coworkers, friends, and even family members that you are unstable and prone to hysteria.

Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse in Children

Signs that children may be subjected to emotional abuse include:

  • Avoiding or fleeing from home.
  • Low self-esteem, confidence, and self-image.
  • Delays in development or a deterioration in academic performance.
  • Frequently nervous, concerned, or fearful of making a mistake.
  • Obnoxious, disruptive, or clandestine behavior.
  • Being aloof from others or having difficulty relating to them.
  • Feeling useless, unloved, or unwelcome.
  • Fear, guilt, and self-blame.
  • Lying, thieving, or having little faith in adults.
  • Suicidal or self-harming thoughts.
  • Use of drugs and alcohol.

How To Deal With Emotional Abuse

These tips provide a starting point:

  • Do not try to fix them. You may want to help, but it is usually difficult for abusive persons to change their behaviour without expert assistance. You can encourage them to work with a therapist, but they must make the decision by themselves.
  • Avoid self-blame. Remember that you never deserve abuse, regardless of what you’ve said or done. The only person responsible is the one who engages in abusive behaviour.
  • Prioritize your needs. Taking care of your physical and mental needs can help you get to a point where you’re comfortable setting boundaries, seeking help, and leaving the abusive relationship.
  • Avoid interacting with them. Do not respond to their texts, phone calls, or emails.
  • If you can’t avoid working or spending time with them, try to have another person with you and keep your talk to important matters.
  • Set personal boundaries. Plan how you will avoid reacting to manipulation or being drawn into fights. Express your limits to the person using abusive tactics and stick to them. You may say, “If you call me names, I’ll go home,” or “If you start teasing me in public, I’ll leave.”
  • Create a support network. It may be difficult to talk about what you’ve been through, but reaching out to loved ones and a trustworthy therapist can go a long way toward getting you the care you need to heal.
  • Leave the relationship or circumstance. Make it clear that the relationship is over and, if possible, cut all ties. Block their phone number and social media accounts, and ignore any attempts to reach out.
  • Allow yourself time to heal. Give yourself to focus on your needs and recovery. This could entail finding your sense of self, developing a new self-care routine, and consulting with a therapist who can assist with recovery.

Leaving a Relationship:

Leaving an abusive relationship is often more difficult if you are married, have children, or have shared assets. If this is your situation, a wise next step would be to seek legal assistance.

A domestic violence advocate or mental health professional can also assist you in developing a safe exit strategy from the relationship.

The resources listed below can also help you develop a plan:

  • This website provides educational resources, a free helpline, and a searchable database of services in your area.
  • Love is respect. This nonprofit organization offers teens and young people a chance to communicate with advocates online, over the phone, or via text message.

What’s an Example of Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse includes non-physical actions intended to control, isolate, or frighten you. This can manifest in romantic relationships as threats, insults, continual monitoring, excessive jealousy, manipulation, humiliation, intimidation, and dismissiveness, among other things.

Emotional abuse against a child includes humiliating or persistently criticizing the child. Threatening, yelling, or calling a child names. Making fun of the child or using sarcasm to hurt a child.

What Does Emotional Abuse Do to a Woman?

Emotional and psychological abuse can have serious short- and long-term consequences. This form of maltreatment can harm both your physical and mental health. You may experience bewilderment, worry, embarrassment, guilt, frequent sobbing, over-compliance, impotence, and other emotions.

What Is the Difference between Mental and Emotional Abuse?

Many psychological abuse strategies are also categorized as emotional abuse and vice versa. The difference between the two is that psychological abuse has a greater impact on a victim’s mental capabilities. While emotional abuse influences how people feel, psychological abuse influences how they think.


Emotional abuse can take many forms and be far more subtle than other types of abuse. Anyone who notices signs of emotional abuse, whether in children or as an adult, should seek help in any way that feels comfortable to them.

Confiding in a professional or a close friend may assist them in moving toward a better future. Thus, they can remove themselves from the circumstance.

Remember, abuse is never your fault; you do not have to live with it!

If you are afraid of immediate physical assault, find a safe place if possible. You can also contact 911 or your local emergency services for assistance.

If you are not in imminent danger and need to chat or locate a safe place to go, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. This free, confidential, 24/7 hotline can connect you with service providers and shelters across the United States.

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