Prevent men’s violence against women

Emotional abuse

What is emotional abuse?

You can experience abuse and violence without being physically hurt. Emotional abuse does not leave physical scars but it can have a big impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. Someone experiencing emotional abuse can feel anxious, depressed and even suicidal.

Perpetrators of emotional abuse use it to take away a person’s independence, confidence and self-esteem. This helps the perpetrator maintain power and control in the relationship. Physically abusive relationships often include aspects of emotional abuse.

Signs of emotional abuse

The signs of emotional abuse can be difficult to identify, especially because it is non-physical. Emotional abuse includes:

  • blaming a partner for all the problems in a relationship
  • constantly comparing them with others to undermine their self-esteem and self-worth
  • usually being in a bad mood
  • intentionally embarrassing them in public
  • name calling
  • yelling, insulting or swearing at them (also known as verbal abuse)
  • controlling someone’s finances (also known as financial abuse)
  • telling them what to wear
  • preventing them from seeing their friends and family (also known as social abuse)
  • stalking
  • threatening suicide
  • making them feel guilty when they refuse sex
  • threatening to report their immigration status
  • online humiliation and intimidation.

Impact of emotional abuse

Someone experiencing emotional abuse can start to believe that what the perpetrator says about them is true. They may also blame themselves for the abuse.

The constant criticism lowers their self-esteem and confidence, making it very difficult to leave the abusive relationship.

Learn more about the other types of abuse.

What to do if you’re experiencing emotional abuse

If you are in an abusive relationship or need to talk to someone about emotional abuse, you can find help now.

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