Posted in emotional abuse, control,, Love, acceptance, Narcissism, Relationships, Family, relationships, self help, Self-Esteem

Emotional Abuse


Emotional abuse is an uncomfortable reality, a social taboo. As such, it is the least talked about yet most common form of abuse. It is insidious and subjective in nature. Due to language and cultural differences — depending on the individuals, the setting and the culture — some abuses are simply overlooked because they are intangible, invisible and physically immeasurable, so they can easily be “played-down,” brushed-off or ignored. So much so that it is not uncommon for victims themselves to not even realize that they have been, or are being, psychologically violated.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is absolutely inaccurate. On the surface emotional abuse may seem like “only words” and perhaps that doesn’t appear to be severe or dramatic, but the effects of emotional abuse are very damaging, run deeper and have longer-lasting effects than physical abuse. Physical scars heal within a relatively short time, whereas the psychological effects of emotional abuse lingers and effects the victim in many facets, if not every facet, of their life, rooting at their core and stemming without.

So what is emotional abuse?
For starters, emotional abuse is more than random angry words or verbal offense.

It is a consistent or regular series of events, incidents or patterns of behavior that occur (repetitively) over time. Whereby the abuser, using various means involving words manipulates, gains and maintains psychological and physical control over the victim. This behavior may or may not be intentional. Regardless, it is completely damaging to the victims confidence and self-esteem.

Methods of manipulation include verbal offenses, insults, teasing, bullying, threats, terrorizing, criticism, ignoring, isolation from supportive family and friends, rejection, degrading, blaming, punishment, humiliation, neglect, criticism, aggressive orders and/or demands, shaming, ultimatums, name-calling, finger-pointing, raging, ignoring, gas-lighting — which refers to intentionally confusing the victim on a regular basis to cause self-doubt and uncertainty to make decisions on their own or accurately access a situation.

Lured into this relationship under false pretenses, often times, especially at first, victims — and sometimes their tormentors — may not even recognize the cycle of abuse that they’re trapped in.
Together, tormentors are menacing and victims are uneasy. Coexisting in an emotionally muddled scenario where the tormentor disregards their victims feelings, subjects him or her to constant or frequent criticisms, aggressive behaviors and/or being ignored — while keeping them close in a seemingly copacetic relationship.

Victims often have a hard time understanding why they feel as bad as they do. They don’t necessarily see the mistreatment as abusive. They have developed coping mechanisms, such as denial, to deal with the stress brought on by the abuse they have suffered and are continuing to endure.

This confusing emotional cluster has a deep and profound effect on the victims ability to maintain integrity, a balanced self-image, self-respect and confidence because emotional abuses are personal and cut to the core of the victim’s psyche where they are internalized and leave lasting impressions such as fear, anxiety, confusion, feelings of insignificance, distrust, emotional neediness, unworthiness, ugliness, a feeling of undeserving, unlovable, deserving of blame, unlikable and deserving of punishment. The effects of long-term emotional abuse can cause severe emotional trauma in the victim, including depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder.

Emotional abuse is used to conquer and control the other person, and quite often it occurs because the abuser has their own issues that they have not dealt with — perhaps as a result of being abused themselves. They didn’t learn healthy coping mechanisms or how to have positive, healthy relationships. Instead, they feel angry, hurt, fearful and powerless.
Abusers tend to have high rates of personality disorders including borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Although emotional abuse doesn’t always lead to physical abuse, physical abuse is almost always preceded and accompanied by emotional abuse.

This can happen anywhere — home, work or any other place; and within any type of relationship.

Signs of emotional abuse.


  • makes fun of you in front of other people.
  • puts you down, both privately and publicly.
  • shares your personal information with others without your consent.
  • uses any perceived failure on your part in public to embarrass you, in private to maintain your low self-image.


  • regularly disregards and/or demeans your feelings.
  • ignores your suggestions.
  • discredits your ideas.
  • repeatedly crosses your boundaries.
  • ignores your requests.
  • disregards your opinions.
  • doesn’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
  • disregards your needs.


  • has an inability to laugh at themselves .
  • cannot tolerate others laughing at them.
  • intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.
  • uses “teasing” and/or sarcasm to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
  • plays the victim.
  • has difficulty apologizing.
  • views you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual yourself.
  • denies any emotionally abusive behavior, on their part, when confronted.
  • passive-aggressive behavior in the way of subtle threats or negative remarks to frighten or control you.
  • accuses you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.
  • treats you like a child.
  • you feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
  • tries to control you, the finances and how you spend money.


  • corrects or reprimands you for your behavior.
  • tries to make you believe that you are always wrong and that they are always right.
  • gives you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.
  • makes cutting remarks under their breath.
  • regularly points out your flaws, mistakes, and/or shortcomings.
  • trivializes you, your accomplishments, and/or your hopes and dreams.
  • calls you names.
  • gives you unpleasant labels.

Abandonment (emotional)

  • doesn’t show you empathy or compassion.
  • Is emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time.
  • pouts or withdraws to get attention or attain what they want.
  • uses neglect or disengages to punish or frighten you.
  • withholds sex as a way to control and manipulate.


  • blame you or accuses you of things that you know aren’t true.
  • blames you for their unhappiness.
  • blame others in lieu of taking personal responsibility.
  • blames you for their problems.
  • blames you for any difficulties they may endure life difficulties.
  • makes excuses for their own poor behavior by blaming it on someone else’s actions.
  • all about “the show,” they will blame you if their or your appearance is not nearly flawless in the public eye.


  • projects their moods and/or feelings onto you.
  • regularly uses your success to gain acclaim.

The first step in healing from an abusive relationship is recognizing that you are involved in one.

If you recognize the patterns described in a relationship that you are involved in — be careful.

Realize and remember that you have the right to feel good about yourself, to love yourself, to love your life.

No one has the right to bully and belittle you. Keep in mind that you are most likely not dealing with a psychologically stable-minded individual, you do not want to do anything to place yourself in harms way.

Take steps to educate yourself — this is free and easy, simply reading whatever material you can, online or at the library.

Become a student of yourself, discovering the ‘you” that exists beneath the nonsense.

Hear your own voice, give yourself permission to listen to it and honor your feelings — you DO have feelings that you, and only you, own.

Everyone learns to walk one step at a time.

This this is not a race — it’s a challenge to discover and love yourself.

Go slowly, but proceed with purpose — YOU are waiting at the finish line.  Taking these steps, investing the time, using caution will lead to the bloom of a beautiful new liberated you and you will have a new-found independence.

You are with it!

20 thoughts on “Emotional Abuse

    1. Thank you. I agree, NPD and emotional abuse needs to be brought into the public eye.
      As I’ve said, the knowledge I’ve acquired in learning about NPD and the validation I’ve experienced as that knowledge put my personal, emotionally battered, puzzle pieces in place has been invaluable. Thank you for sharing your biography with me.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I know what it’s like to be emotionally abused, I was emotionally abused by ex-husband and his family during the seven and a half years we were married. In the last six and a half years, since I left him, I have learned not to let others treat me that way. I was blessed with a beautiful daughter in that relationship, but I know now that God has a better plan for me.


  2. Thank you for the amazing article. I left my wife due to emotional abuse years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the danger in walking away from such a person unprepared, and I lost my kids in the process. I have my daughter back now, but she endured years of the abuse, and my sons are still being subjected to it.

    If you care to look at my blog it’s here:
    It’s not much, but it’s how I’ve been dealing with the grief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! So upsetting to hear that your ex-wife retained custody of the children with a history of emotional abuse (with you). You must be so relieved to have your daughter back in your life. I will follow your blog for updates on progress with the boys.

      And keep writing, in whatever form and format works best for you…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. WONDERFUL article!

    Another manner of emotional abuse is even subtler – repeatedly “saying yes and doing no.” It took me quite a bit of time to recognize this one in an ex-fiance, since this nonsense began when I was very young; my maternal grandmother was its grand master.

    “What kind of ice cream do you want from the store?” I was too young to figured out then that, no matter what I said, my choice would NEVER be the “right” one. Sounds small, but this example is the easiest to explain. The damage to my young life was that, rather than answer questions about choice, I tried to guess “the right answer” – ie., what the person asking wanted to hear.

    With a lot of work, I finally began to get in touch with authentic choice. After I became a professional coach, I was repeatedly told that I was quite effective with what the coaching field calls ‘change requests.’ I believed I had put the problem firmly behind me until I fell in love with the ex above.

    I thought at first it was a problem with a poor communications match that reasonable requests were chronically ignored. I tried harder.

    I began to notice that anything I asked for, no matter how small, was NEVER again done — like, “Please rinse your dishes, even if you don’t have time to wash them, so we don’t get bugs.” or “Try to remember not to leave wet clothes in the washer, ok?” (MANY other examples). I tried different words. Same result.

    In retrospect, I thought that believing this behavior was intentional was crazy thinking on my part for longer than made sense. My friends told me I was over-reacting. He seemed like such a nice man. “Perhaps this is passive-aggressive behavior because he is afraid of confrontation – find out what he is really angry about.”

    ONLY once I clearly identified his behavior as a subtle form of gaslighting did I begin to feel sane again – and not too long afterwards, broke off our engagement, ran for my life and never looked back.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are most welcome. The most important part is that if I still fell victim, even after professional training, it can happen to anybody.

        The first step is to get out of the abusive environment as quickly as you recognize it, but even those of us who “should” know better tend to keep trying when we need to walk away. Hope this helps somebody else to stop and run sooner rather than later!

        As you imply in your excellent article, only then can the healing work take place.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. But how do you just get away if it is family or a spouse? I have both scenarios, There seems like no out other than to leave everyone behind, lose all relationships or ruin your kids’ lives!


      1. Hi
        In my experience with my family, my entire biological family, I had to go ‘no contact’ it was not a pre-meditated decision, however it was life altering — for the better. I was on the receiving end of YET ANOTHER stream of ugly, untrue critcism and in the middle of it all, I muttered — “I’ve had enough, I’m sorry” and I hung up. I didnt intend to hang up like that, it’s the only regret that I have regarding the exchange BUT it was over and I was done and then, THEN I really started to see and understand the truth about my family. It was VERY painful and truthfully, if any one of them had reached out to me I probably would have been sucked back into it, but they didn’t and NOW. I’m glad. After several months of serious sadness, I pulled myself up and started to move forward. They can all keep each other.
        As I’ve indicated before, my healing from that scenario brings me to the person who I have evolved into today. The person who my husband does not like and no longer accepts. You don’t know me so I feel I must say — No, I’m not a delusional person. I don’t like yelling or fighting. I am a happy person, who enjoys life. I don’t have addictions. I work. I have friends. I participate in my community.
        What he doesn’t like or accept about me now is my intolerance of his abusive, aggressive, unacceptable behavior. Since he refuses to evolve, I, too, am most concerned about the effect on my child. There are so many angles to consider, so until the moment when a change occurs I continue to work on myself and this is a constant battle. Growing up the scapegoat it is easy and most comfortable for me to fall into my “role” — so right now, I work on myself, I write, I keep an open communication with my child so she knows she is acknowledged in her feelings and I am here for her and I fight on her behalf.
        Stay strong. Stay safe.

        Liked by 2 people

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