Signs of Emotional Abuse


Physical abuse or sexual abuse is not the only form of abuse that happens in relationships or workplace. Any abuse that may cause mental anguish and stress and which involves jealous behaviours, verbal aggression or dominant behaviours may be called as emotional abuse. In addition emotional abuse does not comprise of a single incident of abuse but involves several, repetitive and chronic instances of emotional grief.

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Men and women can be both, the emotional abusers or the emotionally abused in a relationship.

Emotional abuse may deeply affect the psyche of a person and he/she may lose all sense of self worth and self esteem. Emotionally abused individuals may remain in the abusive relationships because of this sense of worthlessness and the resulting feeling that nobody else would want them in their life.

Symptoms and signs of emotional abuse

An emotionally abusive relationship has several tell-tale signs. It is up to an individual to recognize the symptoms and take the necessary remedial measures. Some of the signs of emotional abuse are listed below:

• When one spends some time away from the relationship, there may be constant interrogation about it.

• There may be verbal aggression in the form of shouting, yelling or intimidation.

• Conversations may have statements that lessen one’s abilities or worth. There may also be constant put downs.

• Even if one is not interested in sex, coercive methods may be used or intense demands will be made by the abuser.

• There may be no physical abuse, but the abuser may use the threat of physical harm to have his/her way.

• There may be diminished autonomy and if one tries to move towards independence like making new friends or getting a better job, then the abuser may feel threatened and intensify the emotional abuse.

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• The abuser may exert a controlling or dominant behavior.

• The abuser may take things without permission and not return them. Money may also be borrowed, but no efforts will be made at repaying it.

• There may be extreme jealousy on the part of the abuser towards friends, family or other social contacts.

Causes of Emotional Abuse

There are several theories that give cultural reasons for the presence of abuse in relationships. Some of them are as follows:

• Some theories suggest that there have been millennia of male dominated societies and hence there is a tendency for the man to dominate.

• Other theories suggest that religion, several of which ask a woman to obey her man increases the tendency of abuse against women.

• Video games, television, movies, stories and other forms of media have gender stereotyping that propagates abuse against women.

• The legal, political and other systems have favoured the men over the years and this has led to the abuse of women. This has seen some change of late.

• Imbalances of power in a relationship and the presence of mental or personality disorders in a partner may lead to emotional abuse in a relationship.

Treatment for Emotional Abuse

Some of the measures that may assist an individual to detect and cope with emotional abuse are as follows:

• Discover a safe place to go to in case of emotional or other forms of abuse. Also, find out about the resources that are accessible to individuals in abusive relationships.

• Avoid isolation and maintain outside social contact. Ask others for advice in case one suspects the partner of being emotionally abusive. In addition, it is necessary to have a support system to avoid being alone.

• Avoid ruminating about the past and take the necessary steps for a better future and relationships that are not emotionally abusive.

• One may go for counseling or talk to a trustworthy person about the emotional abuse in the relationship. It may help the person to understand the reasons that are keeping him/her in the relationship and also prove to be helpful in finding a way out.

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