How to spot emotional abuse

Woman staring out a window

Have you ever gotten a haircut that you really loved, only to have your partner tell you it makes you look bad? Or proudly shown your partner a project you worked really hard on, only to have them harshly criticize it? If so, you may have experienced emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse is domestic violence

When it comes to abusive relationships, people tend to think mostly of physical abuse like hitting or pushing. Since emotional abuse doesn’t leave bruises, it can be especially tough to spot. It’s important to identify emotional abuse because, in many cases, it can lead to physical abuse as well.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is mistreatment with the goal of controlling you by isolating, silencing, and discrediting you. Asking yourself a few questions can help you tell if you have experienced emotional abuse. For instance:

  • Do you often feel like you’re not good enough?
  • Do you often feel guilty or wrong after a disagreement with your partner?
  • Does it feel like you’re constantly apologizing to your partner?
  • Do you feel like you have to walk on eggshells, so you don’t make your partner mad?

These feelings are common in survivors of emotional abuse.

Examples of emotional abuse

Learn the signs of emotional abuse so you can keep an eye out for them:

  • Putting you down
  • Making you feel ashamed or bad about yourself
  • Name calling
  • Making you think you’re crazy (gaslighting)
  • Playing mind games
  • Humiliating you
  • Guilting you
  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Making threats
  • Withholding affection
  • Giving you the silent treatment
  • Frequent criticism

Get help

If you are dealing with emotional abuse you are not alone. We are here to support you 24/7 via our helpline at 425-746-1940 or 800-827-8840.