Emotional abuse often remains unspoken of, mainly because it cannot be reported or regulated the way physical abuse can.
According to Vera Mouradian, PhD, “it may be somewhat artificial to separate emotional abuse from physical forms of abuse because physical forms of abuse also inflict emotional and psychological harm to victims, and both forms of abuse serve to establish dominance and control over another person. However, it also is possible for any one of these types of abuse to occur alone. In fact, emotional abuse often occurs in the absence of other types of abuse.”
Though difficult to define, emotional abuse includes verbal attacks and maltreatment from a partner that causes the victim to lose self esteem and self value in order to gain control.
If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional abuse:
Anxiousness, nervousness or worries about a partner’s attitudes or moods.
Upsetting sarcasm, criticism, frowns, glares, or gestures from a partner.
Edit thoughts before speaking and second-guess behavior before doing anything in fear that it might “set them off”.
Extreme agitation and drastic mood changes.
Humiliation or attacks on self-esteem from a partner.
Isolation from friends, family or groups because of partner.
Feeling obligated to have sex to avoid an argument about it.
Being ignored and getting the silent treatment from partner.
Belittling of their character from partner.
Intimidation from partner.
Feeling trapped because of fear or dependency.
Feeling emotionally neglected or abandoned.
If so, chances are that the relationship is emotionally abusive.
If left unresolved, emotional abuse can lead to much more serious and harmful forms of abuse, and the victim’s sense of worth will continue to drop, which may even lead to forms of self harm.
If you or someone you know is being emotionally abused, the first step is to talk about it with someone. A trusted friend, family member, or mental health care professional are great people to open up to. Many people do not realize they are being abused because they have never been physically harmed; talking about it with someone can help them realize that what is happening is not normal and not acceptable.
If you are a student, look into resources on and off campus that can help. Many schools have specialized centers that seek to help people with these issues.
If this is happening to you or someone you know, do not stay silent. Talk about it with someone you trust in order to get the help you need.