11 Signs of Emotional Abuse

11 Signs of Emotional Abuse

Society has somehow set the standard for abusive relationships. If she has not been hit, she isn’t being abused. It has led many to focus on physical abuse as the only abuse. This is completely FALSE!

Toxic relationships do not only come in the form of physical abuse.

Emotional abuse is a way for the abuser to exert power and control over the victim.

Here are 11 signs of emotional abuse

1. Threats

In an abusive relationship there are many ways to throw out threats and take over control. He may threaten to take something from you such as your kids if you divorce him. He may threaten to tell family and/or friends something personal about you, by doing this you are forced to feel ashamed and he is in control.

2. Money

He may attempt to use withholding money as his way of punishing you and maintaining control. Withholding money makes you feel inadequate and unworthy. You may even begin to believe you cannot take care of yourself or your kids if you leave.

3. Gift giving

He may give you extravagant gifts or extreme promises as a way to reel you back in after an argument or fight. He may agree to a vacation you talked about or that new couch you wanted. He may ask you to marry him or talk about another baby. He wants you to feel his is generous and this is his way to exert control.

4. Withholding affection

This is an intentional way to exercise control and power. He may tell you that you don’t deserve a kiss until he gets what he wants first. He may say that you have to satisfy his needs if you love him.

5. Ultimatums

The most covert of threats is the ultimatum. He may seem like he is giving you a choice again making him generous by giving you the choice to save the situation. In reality, there is no choice at all. 

6. Lack of privacy

This is a subtle but effective form of emotional abuse. He will start by covertly reading your text messages, private messages on social media and even emails.

The abuser may resort to insisting on you giving him the passwords to your email and social media. He will then use what he finds (even if there is nothing incriminating to find) against you.

7. Interfering with opportunities and other relationships.

While you are not even noticing the abuser will start limiting your interactions with close friends and family. As you search for a new job or to decide you want to continue your education you may get resistance. The belittling comments will suggest you cannot do it, not smart enough or you’re just not good enough.

8. Property damage

This is a relatively fine line between physical and emotional abuse. He may lose your favorite shirt from you trip to Mexico with girlfriends. What a surprise it would be if your wine glass you received on your 21 birthday was broken in an argument just to exert control.

9. Blame you for EVERYTHING

Partners using power and control are not willing to take responsibility. YOU will be blamed instead. He will manipulate the situation until somehow, someway, he has figured out a way to blame you and make it seem as though you are the problem, not him.

10. Inappropriate relationships

You may find that he has a connection with others and hides it from you. These secret conversation with a coworker or colleague. Maybe he will have late night texts with another classmate. If they are hidden, they are inappropriate. As a husband and wife, the emotional attachments should be with each other not with someone else.

11. Name calling

The easiest of techniques for the abuser. This is the default or go to way to abuse. Name calling can be subtly making fun of you for tripping up the stairs by calling you a klutz. Over time, the abuse turns to deeper hurt such as a liar, a cheat, fat, crazy, or a bad mom. These all tug at you emotionally. You make take pride in your faithfulness or your weight and yet get accused of cheating or told you are fat. This beats at your self-esteem.

If you decide to leave an emotionally abusive relationship, take a moment to psych yourself up for battle.


If you have kids and decide to divorce, please seek out a lawyer knowledgeable in abuse cases. Be prepared for continued abuse. Although you will have the ability to set boundaries and distance yourself if necessary, it will not be an easy road.

You are not alone in this!