SIGNS OF MENTAL ABUSE: What are the Signs in a Relationship (+ Detailed Guide)


Many of the more evident signs of mental abuse are probably familiar to you. However, it’s easy to ignore the ongoing undercurrent of abusive conduct when you’re in the middle of it. A person’s attempt to terrify, control, or isolate you is known as mental abuse. It’s evident in the abuser’s words and deeds, as well as their continued participation in these practices.

It’s possible that the abuser is your spouse or another romantic partner. They could be a partner in business, a parent, or a caregiver. You don’t deserve it, no matter who it is, and it isn’t your fault. Continue reading to find out more, including how to spot it and what to do next.

What is Mental Abuse?

Mental abuse is intended to sabotage your self-esteem and make you feel bad about yourself. It’s also a type of control and manipulation. The consequences of mental abuse are exactly as bad as those of physical violence.

Not only recognizing mental abuse but also having the confidence to address it, is extremely tough. It’s also all too common in our society, with over half of all women and men reporting psychological abuse from a romantic partner.

Signs of Mental Abuse

Here are some actions and behaviors that plainly indicate a desire to harm someone’s mental health:

1. Accusation

The abuser always blames you for their difficulties and accuses you of making every mistake. They refuse to take responsibility for the repercussions of their actions or words, and they use you as a scapegoat on a regular basis. They are envious of you and use guilt to make you do things you don’t want to do.

2. Control

Control can be over significant decisions such as where to live and work, but it can also be over minor details. They might not let you out of the house, for example. They may advise you on what to wear and eat. It’s possible that you won’t be able to choose your pals or what you watch on TV. Any indicator that they are attempting to exert control over you is a sign of mental abuse.

3. Codependence

To keep control, someone practicing mental abuse may try to create a situation in which you feel you have no choice but to be with them. They may also try to disrupt or end any ties you have with supportive friends or family members in order to ensure that you continue to rely solely on them.

4. Criticism

You are being mentally abused if your partner continually criticizes you for everything you do, large or small. They can make fun of you because of your appearance or what you’re wearing. They may also minimize or dismiss any personal or professional achievements. It could make you feel as if nothing you do is ever good enough.

5. Emotional Ignorance

Any abusive individual will prioritize his or her own emotional demands over yours. They may demand respect and obedience, and they may withhold affection or care until and unless they obtain what they want.

6. Humiliation

Embarrassing someone, especially in a public situation, is a powerful technique to mentally abuse them. They might make fun of you and encourage others to do the same. They may use social media to share compromising photos or postings.

What are Signs of Mental Abuse

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

  • Calling people names. They’ll openly call you “dumb,” “a loser,” or other derogatory terms.
  • Nicknames that are derogatory. This is merely more name-calling dressed up in a less-than-subtle manner. “My pudgy pumpkin” or “my tiny knuckle dragger” aren’t expressions of endearment.
  • The assassination of a person’s reputation. The term “always” is frequently used in this context. You’re usually late, wrong, making mistakes, being irritable, and so on. They basically say you’re a bad guy.
  • Screaming. The purpose of yelling, screaming, and swearing is to scare you and make you feel tiny and insignificant. It could be accompanied by the banging of fists or the flinging of objects.
  • Being condescending. “I know you try, honey, but this is just beyond your comprehension.”
  • Public humiliation. They pick battles with you, disclose your secrets, or make fun of your flaws in front of others.
  • Dismissiveness When you tell them about something significant to you, they dismiss it. Eye-rolling, smirking, head shaking, and sighing are all examples of body language that serve to express the same message.
  • Joking. The jokes could be completely false or include a kernel of truth. They make you appear ridiculous in either case.
  • Use of sarcasm Frequently, it’s just a covert dig. When you object, they pretend it was a joke and advise you not to take yourself too seriously.
  • Personal attacks on your attractiveness. They tell you that your hair is awful or that your dress is clownish right before you walk out.
  • Disregarding your achievements. Your abuser may convince you that your accomplishments are meaningless, or they may even take credit for your success.
  • Insults to your passions. They might tell you that your activity is a childish waste of time, or that when you play sports, you’re out of your league. It’s really just that they’d rather you didn’t do things without them.
  • Playing with your emotions. When your abuser learns about anything that irritates you, they will bring it up or do it whenever they get the opportunity.

Signs of Mental Abuse from Parents

We’ll go over the traditional signs that your parents are mentally abusive. After that, we’ll tell you what you can do about it.

1. You have narcissistic parents.

Emotional manipulation is a classic characteristic of a narcissistic parent. They enjoy having complete control over their children. It’s either to make themselves appear good, or they believe it’s a waste of time to love their children.

2. There is a pattern of verbal abuse with them.

Parenting is a difficult and often frustrating task. That is why it is difficult to condemn parents for being harsh with their children sometimes.

3. They are prone to mood swings.

Everyone experiences mood swings. It’s a different story when it comes to psychological effects on youngsters.

4. They don’t accept praises.

What child hasn’t wished to please his or her parents? What parent doesn’t enjoy bragging about their kids? Emotionally abusive parents, on the other hand, dislike providing credit to their children, even when they deserve it.

5. Holding back vital necessities

Mentally abusive parents may deprive their children of their basic needs, which is perhaps the worst of crimes. It is the responsibility of parents to provide food and shelter for their children. However, some emotionally abusive parents refuse to shoulder this burden.

6. Parentification or entanglement

Parents can often provide too much—too much love, too much attention, or too many materials wants. Emotional abuse is exceedingly difficult to detect. But one thing is certain: it produces a familial dynamic with virtually no boundaries.

7. They expect you to prioritize them at all times.

According to Rudá Iandê, a world-renowned shaman, one of the most important duties is to comprehend your parents’ expectations so that you can pick your own route. We can’t simply separate ourselves from our parents in order to discover our way. We can, however, tell the difference between acceptable and unjust requests from our parents.

Signs of Mental Abuse in a Relationship

Mentally abusive partners’ behavior is excruciatingly unpleasant to bear. This could be how you’re feeling in your marriage or relationship right now. Emotionally abused people often feel humiliated, useless, weak, and trapped.

1. Your partner makes light of their nasty remarks:

It is very usual for abusive partners to disguise their genuine type of conduct by claiming that the things they say are meant to be amusing. They might, for example, criticize you for your appearance and then say that you ‘can’t take a joke’ if you protest against the apparent harshness. As a result, you may feel embarrassed and unsure, wondering if you don’t understand humor or if you can’t loosen up enough to laugh at your own imperfections.

2. You’re treated like a child by your partner:

Mental abuse in the form of incentivization by another adult is extremely distressing. You may feel as if you have little to no control over your own life if your partner engages in this type of behavior. Your partner’s strict control of your money may limit your obligations and freedoms, or your partner may try to dictate when you can attend social activities.

3. Your lover has complete power over your sexual life:

Threats and emotional blackmail may be used by a mentally abusive partner to ensure that they get their way with your sex life. For example, you may feel compelled to be physically intimate even if you are sick or have stated that you are not in the mood for sex, or you may feel compelled to undertake difficult or unappealing sex activities for fear of your spouse abandoning you if you do not cater to their every whim.

4. To avoid receiving unfavorable feedback, you must keep a close eye on everything you do:

When you’re in a relationship with a mental abuser, daily interactions can feel like walking on eggshells, and your spouse can appear impossible to please. You may find yourself continually on the lookout for signs that your partner is about to criticize or lecture you, and you may begin to believe that nothing you do is good enough.

5. Your partner threatens to leave on a regular basis:

When you try to fight your mentally abusive partner’s continual attempts to have their own way, they frequently threaten to quit the relationship. Your partner brings up the issue of divorce as a possibility. When you challenge their dominating patterns of behavior, your partner may overreact and try to push you to do what they want by claiming that they are sick of the way you are acting and are about to leave you.

Signs of Mental Abuse from Husband

Mental abuse is frequently used to exert control over another individual. If you’re concerned that you and your partner are going through this, Benton recommends looking for these ten signs, as identified by Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute:

1. Control:

Your companion may appear overly invested in your social life or police your daily activities without appreciating your wishes. You are not allowed to make your own decisions (either overtly or subtly). Even insignificant remarks that threaten your independence might be used to exert control.

2. Yelling:

It’s natural for spouses to raise their voices from time to time, but it’s unhealthy when disputes turn into shouting on a daily basis. It’s extremely alarming if you’re scared. Not only does yelling make it difficult to have a good conversation, but it also creates a power imbalance in which only the loudest person is heard.

3. Contempt:

It’s difficult for either couple to convey their sentiments when one feels contempt for the other. Benton points out that in a good relationship, your spouse is expected to listen and respect you (even if they can’t provide you with what you require). Contempt may form a barrier in your relationship if they respond to your demands with mean-spirited sarcasm, arrogance, disgust, or disinterest.

4. Abundant Defensiveness:

There is less room for healthy dialogue when you continuously feel the need to defend oneself. It’s critical for both sides to be able to communicate openly—and honestly—in order to settle conflicts. Excessive defensiveness, according to Benton, might make you feel as though you’re fighting a battle and your shield is always up.

5. Threats:

You may believe you’re in danger if your partner threatens you in any way. Blackmail, threats of physical damage or suicide, or other threatening utterances are all examples of coercive “if, then” assertions, but they all have the same goal: to push victims into a corner (and prevent them from leaving).

Signs of Mental Abuse from Boyfriend

The abuser’s insecurities are the source of this behavior. They seek to establish a hierarchical structure in which they are at the top, and you are at the bottom.

1. Stonewalling:

Stonewalling occurs when one person refuses to talk or communicate, according to Benton. It can feel like your partner is abandoning you if he or she shuts down difficult conversations. Their inability to discuss difficulties could be interpreted as a rejection or a disregard for your sentiments.

2. Blame:

Victims are frequently led to feel that they are the ones who cause—and hence deserve—their own abuse and misery, making it far more difficult to escape the cycle. The humiliation that many victims feel for allowing their abuse to continue might worsen this.

3. Gaslighting:

Gaslighting is a type of psychological manipulation that causes victims to question their memories, judgment, and sanity. You may be undergoing gaslighting if your worries (or even recollections) are regularly disregarded as “fake,” “dumb,” or “insane.”

4. Isolation:

Mental abuse is widespread and affects people from all walks of life. The impact on victims’ relationships with friends and relatives is particularly notable. Abusers frequently persuade their victims that no one cares. Victims of alienation may feel as if they are on an island, cut off from loved ones and previous versions of themselves.

5. Volatility:

It might be an indication of abuse if a relationship is continuously disrupted by mood fluctuations. Many people go through normal ups and downs, but it becomes a problem when one’s spouse is harmed. Following an outburst, volatile abusers frequently shower their victims with gifts and affection, only to become enraged again shortly after.

Signs of Mental Abuse in a Marriage

1. You’ve been cut off from your friends or family members:

Some persons who are mentally abusive purposefully aim to alienate their spouses, while others use subliminal strategies to achieve the same goal. It is much simpler for your partner to continue abusing you without being held accountable when you are less in touch with your friends and family.

2. Your partner accuses you of being to blame for everything that goes wrong:

People who are mentally abusive are generally unable or unable to accept responsibility for their own defects and mistakes, so they blame others. You may have been accused of making your partner go into a rage if you’re with someone like this.

3. You are accused of infidelity when there is no proof:

Because emotional abusers have such a strong desire to dominate their victims, they may become panicked and make unfounded, insulting charges of adultery if they feel they are losing power.

4. Your spouse will never confess that he or she is mistaken:

After an altercation, partners in a good relationship can generally meet in the middle. In the vast majority of cases, both parties have done something that requires an apology. Mentally abusive spouses, on the other hand, will always find a way to frame disagreements or arguments in a way that makes it look as if you are solely to blame.

5. You have the impression that your companion has multiple personalities:

Finally, it’s worth noting that mentally abusive partners aren’t always unpleasant to be around. Indeed, one of the reasons that people who are being mistreated choose to stay in a relationship is that things are not always awful.

Dealing with Signs of Mental Abuse

Seek help if you suspect you are being mistreated psychologically or emotionally. If you are in urgent danger, try to flee the scene as soon as possible and dial 911. If you’re not in immediate danger, take a look at your circumstances and make sure you know what to do:

1. You are not to blame or responsible for the abuse.

You may have a strong desire to feel that whatever is going on is your fault and that you must find a method to fix it. That isn’t the case at all. Make no attempt to negotiate with your abuser. They won’t change on their own unless they desire to and seek professional guidance. It’s not up to you to deal with it.

2. Avoid getting involved

Decide that you will not participate in the abuser’s games or get caught in their fights with you. Limit your contact with them as much as possible.

3. Remove yourself from the relationship

If you have the financial means and ability to quit the relationship permanently, do so. Make it plain that the relationship is finished and you’re ready to move on with your life. Take a step back and don’t look back.

4. Time is a healer

Take a deep breath and realize that healing will take time once you’ve been able to detach yourself from the abuser. Relax with a hot bath and a cup of tea. The worst is over, and the rest of your life lies ahead of you.

5. Assistance and Resources

It is really tough to break free from someone who is abusing your mind. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Seek the assistance of relatives and friends who you can trust. Inquire your spiritual leader for advice. Make an appointment with a therapist or a mental health expert.


If you recognize some or all of these signs of mental abuse, you’re in an unhealthy relationship and need help. In some circumstances, abusive partners are unaware of how harmful their words and behaviors may be, and if you intervene decisively, you may discover that your partner is taken aback by the reality of the situation. Relationship counseling can help you heal your relationship and assist your spouse to evolve and growing into a more mature and loving person in certain situations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between mental and emotional abuse?

Emotional and psychological abuse are all forms of mental abuse. Emotional and mental abuse occurs when someone acts in a certain way to dominate, isolate, manipulate, or scare another person. This type of abuse can take the form of remarks or threats, and it is recognized as a pattern of conduct.

What causes a person to be abusive?

Abusive persons believe they have the right to control and restrict their partners’ lives, frequently because they believe their own feelings and wants should take precedence in the relationship, or because they enjoy the power that such abuse provides. Abuse is a behavior that may be learned.

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