Abuse is not just physical. It can take on another form.  While it might not leave physical scars the way physical abuse does, being abused emotionally is just as devastating. It may even bring about more harm because, in some cases, the abused person isn’t completely aware it’s happening. And that has an awful way of affecting a person’s self-esteem and confidence.

It Can Happen to Anyone

Emotional or psychological abuse can take place between parent and child, husband and wife, between friends, and sometimes relatives. In an emotionally abusive relationship, it is the abuser’s goal to destroy another individual’s self-worth. And to do it at such a degree that the abused individual feels as though he or she cannot act any longer without the approval of the other person in the relationship.

Emotional abuse could affect a person’s life in the long run. It might not leave physical bruises and injuries but it could trigger deep depression and anxiety. In the worst-case scenario, it could also drive a person to suicide or murder.

Know the Signs

Verbal insults are some of the more recognisable signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. When a man or woman constantly yells derogatory remarks at a partner, when a person is being insulting — these are all definite signs that a person is being abusive emotionally.

But there are other signs as well, namely:

  • Using economic power – When a partner withholds money, controls the other person’s spending, and prevents that person from working.
  • Public humiliation – When a person degrades another person in public.
  • Put downs – When a person resorts to name calling, consistently criticises, and disregards the other person’s opinions, feelings and thoughts.
  • Bullying – When a person purposely does something hurtful, and makes that person feel afraid through intimidating looks and gestures.
  • Emotional distancing – When a person isolates a partner, or prevents him or her from getting in touch with friends and family; and when that person also uses the “silent treatment.”
  • Blame – When a person blames the other person for his or her problem, or uses a circumstance to make an excuse for their behaviour.

 Get Help

In the most damaging and insidious relationships of all, the abuser may even act charming and nice in pubic — but in private, will launch into verbal abuse toward a significant other.

A victim of an emotionally abusive relationship can get help from different sources. Counselling services are on hand to provide advice.

Emotionally abused victims can also start taking control by telling their partners that this sort of treatment is unacceptable and that a discussion needs to take place to direct the relationship toward a better course. This could also be done with the help of a relationship counsellor.

If you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and need help, please search our qualified relationship counsellors and marriage therapists in your local area.