Educating yourself about the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse can be the first step in getting help for yourself or for a loved one.
Emotional abuse can take a variety of forms, from humiliating jokes to degrading comments, and it's not always easy to spot. If you believe you’re the target of emotional abuse, remove yourself from the situation and cut ties with your abuser. While serious on its own, emotional abuse can escalate to physical violence, which requires prompt intervention. Call emergency services immediately if you or someone you love is in danger of physical harm.
If you suspect that something is very wrong in your relationship, but you are having a hard time believing that you are really in an abusive relationship, please read the many books and articles below. The more you read, the more you will be able to recognize the signs of abuse. You will be able to distinguish patterns of abuse and finally find the strength to advocate for your own rights. Also, reach out to long-time trusted friends and family members. Trust their opinions.
Written from the heart, Psychopath Free is the first guide for survivors written by a survivor, offering hope for healing and thriving after psychopathic abuse. Say goodbye to the chaos, self-doubt, and victimization. You are free.
This book was instrumental in helping Austin to recognize the extent of the abuse that he was enduring
If you were involved in a pathological relationship -- or you want to prevent it from
happening in the first place -- this book is for you. It gets to the heart of the matter of personal boundaries. Identifying and setting clear boundaries is vital for survivors and for anyone who wants to become more confident, improve relationships, and prevent victimization.
"Shahida Arabi weaves life wisdom and insight with empowering scientific research, not leaving any room for misunderstanding or doubt about the harmful nature of this form of abuse." —THE SHAKTI JOURNAL
Organizations that Educate and Support Victims of Emotional Abuse
Love is the most important thing in our lives, yet we are taught very little about it. One Love is on a mission to change that. We educate young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships, empowering them to identify and avoid abuse and learn how to love better.Healthy relationships are ones that bring out the best in you. Even though no relationship is perfect, healthy relationships make you feel good almost all of the time and generally bring you up and not down.
Some Additional Websites, Articles, and Resources
- Emotional abuse is one of the hardest forms of abuse to recognize. It can be subtle and insidious or overt and manipulative. Either way, it chips away at the victim's self-esteem and they begin to doubt their perceptions and reality.
- The underlying goal in emotional abuse is to control the victim by discrediting, isolating, and silencing.
- In the end, the victim feels trapped. They are often too wounded to endure the relationship any longer, but also too afraid to leave. So the cycle just repeats itself until something is done.
- Read the rest of the article at https://www.verywellmind.com/identify-and-cope-with-emotional-abuse-4156673
- In addition to being difficult to break away from, controlling behavior can sometimes be difficult to spot, especially early in a relationship. Although friends and family might express concern, you may initially mistake the warning signs of controlling behavior as more positive—or even flattering—characteristics of the person you’re with. You may see them as encouraging signs of where your relationship is headed. Controlling people often know how to fly under the radar and how to make themselves look good. They can be skilled in manipulating the people they are dating into thinking that their friends and family must be wrong or jealous or overprotective. Controlling people may try to leave trails of "evidence" that they are good partners, and fool you into thinking that they only have your best interests at heart. And they can be adept at making you doubt and second-guess your instincts when your alarm bells do finally go off.
- Read the rest of the article at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/friendship-20/201612/is-how-controlling-partners-disguise-their-true-selves
- Compromises need to be made, but neither partner should have the sense that they are constrained by neediness, jealousy, etc. If your relationship has more in common with a hostage situation than a healthy relationship, you may need relationship help fast.
- Read the rest of the article at https://www.streetdirectory.com/etoday/girlfriend-too-clingy-needy-jealous-controlling-or-demanding-seek-help-ujauwu.html
- Controlling people use a whole arsenal of tools in order to dominate their partners—whether they or their partners realize what's happening or not. Sometimes, the emotional manipulation is complex enough that the person who is being controlled actually believes that they themselves are the villain, or that they are extremely lucky that their controlling partner "puts up" with them. Whether controlling behavior leads to more severe emotional or physical abuse or not, it is not a healthy situation. Read the rest of the article, along with the 20 signs, at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/friendship-20/201506/20-signs-your-partner-is-controlling
- When abusers threaten suicide or self-harm, they are causing the fear to rise within us so that we don’t leave. In this way, threats of suicide are being used as a method of control. They may go so far as to claim that we don’t care enough about them and that they have lost the will to live. They may sit crumpled up on the floor and cry their fake tears just to make us fear for their safety. Or, they may even loop an extension cord around their neck while making the same threat of suicide or self-harm. This is all so that they can trap us into staying with them.
- Read the rest of the article at https://breakthesilencedv.org/suicide-as-emotional-abuse-threats-suicide-control/
- Does your relationship with your girlfriend or wife leave you feeling bad about yourself? Do you frequently feel misunderstood, rejected, vilified and devalued in your relationship? Do you feel trapped or stuck? Do you believe it’s possible for men to be emotionally abused by women? Believe it. It happens all the time. The stereotype of an abusive relationship is that of a man physically beating a woman. Society has yet to acknowledge the vast number of women who emotionally abuse men. Read the rest of the article at: https://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/when-love-hurts-the-emotionally-abused-man/
- Manipulation is essentially the use of unclear agendas in attempts to get another person to do what you want. Both the manipulator and the person being manipulated may be unaware that this is occurring. Let’s be clear: Manipulation is not the same as influence. We all use influence to advance our goals. This is part of healthy social functioning. Influence recognizes the rights and boundaries of other people, and is based on direct, honest communication. But with manipulation, there is a tendency to exploit others and disregard their feelings.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.monikahoyt.com/emotional-manipulation/
- Abusive relationships don't always mean a man abusing a woman. There are plenty of unstable and abusive women out there, as well. Abusive girlfriends and wives are underreported because some of the male victims are too ashamed to report it. Please don't believe that you are not being abused just because your abuser has never hit you. Insulting you, constantly finding fault with you, and correcting you in public or private are all abusive behaviors designed to destroy your self-confidence and maintain control over you. You don't know that it won't escalate into physical violence.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.yourtango.com/experts/sinclair-institute/are-you-abusive-relationship
- Emotional abuse may be hard to recognize because it can be subtle, and because abusers often blame their victims. They may act like they have no idea why you are upset. ...The abuser may be loving between abusive episodes, so that you deny or forget them. You may not have had a healthy relationship for comparison, and when the abuse takes place in private, there are no witnesses to validate your experience....Abusers typically want to control and dominate. They use verbal abuse to accomplish this. They are self-centered, impatient, unreasonable, insensitive, unforgiving, and they lack empathy and are often jealous, suspicious, and withholding. To maintain control, some abusers "take hostages," meaning that they may try to isolate you from your friends and family. Their moods can shift from fun-loving and romantic to sullen and angry. Some punish with anger, others with silence – or both. It’s usually “their way or the highway.”
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201704/forms-emotional-and-verbal-abuse-you-may-be-overlooking
- Toxic connections ring multiple alarms, if partners can only hear them.
- Read the rest of the article and the 51 signs at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201502/51-signs-unhealthy-relationship
- It might not be easy to recognize domestic violence against men. Early in the relationship, your partner might seem attentive, generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be controlling and frightening. Initially, the abuse might appear as isolated incidents. Your partner might apologize and promise not to abuse you again.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/domestic-violence-against-men/art-20045149
- Emotional abuse often makes the victim feel responsible for the abuse, yet powerless to change it. It is extremely difficult to recognize,  let alone report or prove, and while it may not lead to physical violence, almost all intimate partner violence is preceded and accompanied by emotional abuse.  It is important that victims have agency to define their own experiences, and it is equally important to recognize how easily the narrative about emotional abuse can become twisted and glossed over.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.harborhousefl.com/emotional-abuse-anything-tender-myths-reality/
- There's very much a belief that domestic abuse only happens to women, and that prevents men coming forward. It feeds into this fear they're not going to be believed.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-47252756
- An abuser has a profound way of convincing someone that their family and loved ones are not actually that good for them. As things grow more severe an abuser will tell the victim that their family is "attacking" or "trying to sideline" the relationship. This may result in them demanding that a person makes a choice; their family or the abuser.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.indy100.com/article/emotional-abuse-victims-signs-gaslighting-finances-manipulation-8225011
- Fighting is Healthy…Right? The answer is, no, fighting is not healthy, communication is healthy, it is impossible to communicate during a fight. Fights occur due to loss of control, without control, communication is ineffective. Communication requires speaking and listening; fighting requires anger and aggression. Making up after a fight may make it seem worthwhile, making up involves speaking and listening, but this could have taken place without the "fight" part.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.regain.us/advice/general/how-to-recognize-the-signs-of-an-abusive-relationship/
- While abuse of women is widely known, what is not widely recognized is that men can be victims of emotional abuse too. It's unfortunate, but true, that women and men can be just as emotionally abusive towards men as they can be towards women. And emotional abuse of men is every bit as unacceptable as the emotional abuse of women.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-abuse-of-men-men-victims-of-emotional-abuse-too
- Men usually are blamed for abuse because of modern gender stereotypes. Women are perceived as the weaker, gentler sex, whereas men are perceived as being stronger and having natural tendencies toward violence. These stereotypes are false. It is true, however, than women tend to abuse men differently than men abuse women. Women generally favor emotional abuse tactics, making the abuse much more difficult to detect.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://psychcentral.com/blog/invisible-victims-when-men-are-abused/
- Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic in which a person, to gain power and control, plants seeds of uncertainty in the victim. The self-doubt and constant skepticism slowly and meticulously cause the individual to question their reality.
- Read the rest of the article at: https://www.thrivetalk.com/gaslighting/
- Emotional abuse can take a variety of forms, from humiliating jokes to degrading comments, and it's not always easy to spot. If you believe you’re the target of emotional abuse, remove yourself from the situation and cut ties with your abuser. While serious on its own, emotional abuse can escalate to physical violence, which requires prompt intervention.
- This is an amazing, helpful article with lots of good advice. Read it at: https://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Emotional-Abuse
- Many survivors find that emotional abuse is difficult to name or even talk about. They often wonder if it is serious because you cannot see it, like bruises or broken bones. Emotionally abused survivors state that one of the biggest problems they face is that others seldom take it seriously. These questions will help you identify if you are being emotionally abused, and provide some ideas on available support and resources.
- Read the rest of this article at: http://stoprelationshipabuse.org/educated/types-of-abuse/emotional-abuse/
- People suffering from retroactive jealousy get caught in a loop of obsessive thoughts, painful emotions, inconsiderate and irrational actions, and subsequent self-loathing. From what I've read, it appears that many psychologists believe it falls within the spectrum of obsessive compulsive disorders.
- Read more at: https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-44850438
- Despite the fact that regular jealousy focuses on the present and retroactive jealousy focuses on the past, their symptoms are remarkably similar. Both forms of jealousy cause feelings of anger, fear, anxiety and paranoia. Both can make the sufferer do crazy things like snooping through their partner’s phone, or spending hours interrogating them. Both are very good at undermining a relationship and turning it from a perfect love match into yet another failed experiment.
- Read more at: https://psychcentral.com/blog/retroactive-jealousy-vs-regular-jealousy-in-a-relationship/
- When people think of domestic abuse, they often focus on domestic violence. But domestic abuse includes any attempt by one person in an intimate relationship or marriage to dominate and control the other. Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” An abuser uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb.
- Read more at: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm
- For a man who grew up in a stable, law-abiding family, having to be involved with police and courts has left him suffused in shame. On particularly bleak days he has felt suicidal. He bears no malice towards his wife. "I don't think she could control herself…I could see in her eyes that she was a scared child. The thing that got to me was that all I wanted to do was help her."
- Read more at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-shame-of-being-a-male-victim-of-domestic-violence-20160830-gr4hmo.html
- Psychological or emotional abuse is “the use of power to hurt the other and to control the other, and early signs are often the same as early signs of any abuse,” says Health contributing psychology editor Gail Saltz, MD. And just because it doesn’t leave bruises or scars, Dr. Saltz says, doesn’t mean it can’t have a lasting impact. Here are some of the warning signs that your partner is emotionally abusive.
- Read the rest of the article and the signs of emotional abuse at: https://www.health.com/relationships/how-to-spot-emotional-abuse
- Those who have never been in an abusive relationship struggle to understand how people remain in one for so long. If somebody was mistreating you, "why did you stick around?" they ask. For survivors, this can be a really tough question to answer. The lucky ones escape, and stumble upon articles or books that give them the terms to be able to understand what happened to them, and thus describe their experience. Other times, though, this doesn't happen, and people might not even be aware they were in a relationship that could be classed as "abusive." According to therapist Shannon Thomas, author of "Healing from Hidden Abuse," psychological abuse is insidious, and it occurs a over time like an IV drip of poison entering your veins.
- Read more at: https://www.businessinsider.com/trauma-bonding-explains-why-people-often-stay-in-abusive-relationships-2017-8
- When you're in an emotionally abusive relationship, you are probably questioning your reality. You may start to have doubts about what you said or did because your partner or loved one tries to manipulate you. They may deny hurting you, and tell you that you're "losing your mind" or "making it up." Because of this, you may start to believe that your feelings are invalid - that's a terrible feeling, and it's not true. These are all signs of mental manipulation and potential spousal abuse.
- Read more at: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/abuse/youre-not-crazy-but-emotional-abuse-can-make-you-think-you-are/
- Psychological abuse involves a person’s attempts to frighten, control, or isolate you. It’s in the abuser’s words and actions, as well as their persistence in these behaviors. The abuser could be your spouse or other romantic partner. They could be your business partner, parent, or a caretaker. No matter who it is, you don’t deserve it and it’s not your fault. Continue reading to learn more, including how to recognize it and what you can do next.
- Read more at: https://www.healthline.com/health/signs-of-mental-abuse
- “It can be challenging and scary to fully embrace the truth about being in a relationship with an abusive partner,” said Lisa Ferentz, a licensed clinical social worker and educator specializing in trauma. “When you have invested your time and your heart in a relationship and much of your world revolves around that person, it can feel easier or safer to make up excuses or downplay the impact of the abuser’s behaviors.”
- Read more at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/toxic-habits-emotional-abuser-relationships_n_5b7dfeb7e4b0348585fd2d6e
- The mind games abusers play can make a survivor feel like he or she is losing their mind. The effects can be longer lasting than physical abuse. In a survivor's mind, when an abuser is being physically violent, it is clear that the abuser is causing this. With psychological abuse, the perpetrator makes the victim believe he or she is the cause. The makes the survivor's mind work against them—and that they'd be crazy to think otherwise. “In essence, the perpetrator is consistently questioning their victim’s reality and at the same time are often isolating them, leaving the victim confused, plagued by self-doubt and [feeling] like they are going crazy,” says Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist, professor of psychology and author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist. “This phenomenon of gaslighting or chronically second guessing someone is a classic part of the domestic violence dynamic.”
- Read more at: https://www.domesticshelters.org/articles/identifying-abuse/my-partner-is-trying-to-make-me-seem-crazy-am-i-crazy