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Emotional Abuse Signs: How to Spot an Emotional Abuser

Physical abuse is easy to identify, but what about emotional? We’re looking at 11 emotional abuse signs to look for and what to do about them.

emotional abuse signs

Domestic violence against your partner is what we call a giant no-no in relationships. But what about emotional abuse signs?

While physical violence is more than easy to spot, emotional abuse can be a lot trickier. In some cases, neither the abused nor the abuser even realize it’s happening.

If you’re making an effort to examine your relationship to make sure you’re both getting and giving the utmost respect, love, and care in your relationship, then it’s time to take a hard look at some real possibilities of emotional abuse.

Emotional abusers often act out due to their own psychological issues. If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, the best thing to do is to leave.

It doesn’t matter how much time or effort you have put in the relationship, you can’t change someone else’s emotional issues if they haven’t dealt with it themselves. It is not worth your time or your soul to be with someone who will mistreat you in any way. [Read: Signs of a devious lover]

Emotional abuse is a slow progression that can slip under the radar if you’re not careful.

Abuse is genderless

One survey revealed that the majority of people view abuse committed by women as less serious than if a male were the emotional or physical abuser in a relationship. Basically, cultural norms tell us men are always the aggressors – not females – but the reality isn’t always so. Abuse comes in all different forms and can happen to anyone.

Signs of emotional abuse

If you feel there’s something not right about your relationship but aren’t sure what, here are telltale signs of emotional abuse that may be at the root of your romantic struggles. [Read: Am I in an abusive relationship?]

#1 Hypercriticism. Who doesn’t love a little sarcasm in a relationship? This wry humor can add fire and spunk to any relationship, but be wary when innocent ball-busting turns into humiliation. If your partner is hypercritical about everything you do and makes a habit out of putting you down, it’s time for a change.

#2 Disregarding your opinions. Do you feel like your partner is constantly disregarding your opinions? A relationship consists of two people with differing thoughts and opinions. That’s what makes them interesting!
You don’t want to date a clone of yourself, do you? If your mate does not consider your thoughts and feelings about something, and downright disregards your beliefs, kick them to the curb.

#3 Lack of empathy or compassion. A lack of compassion for you, your friends and family, and your problems is a definite sign that your mate is a total a**hole who needs some therapy. This lack of empathy shows that they do not respect your life and the things going on within it. This is a form of emotional abuse. [Read: Reasons empathy is important in relationships]

#4 Constant affairs. Abusers are selfish in nature, and what is more selfish than infidelity? Affairs or threats of affairs are done with a disregard for your feelings and desires.

Affairs also show a level of power from your abuser and may even be done specifically to hurt you. While not all cheaters are abusers, cheating is by definition a form of emotional abuse to a faithful partner. In case no one has said this to you recently, you deserve way more than a two-timer.

#5 They control finances. Control is a large part of psychological abuse, and one way they can physically control you is by being the only one with access to your finances. This ensures you literally can’t survive without them.
Bills, groceries, car payments – all of them are done by your abuser. This is one way in which you will be treated like a child who they feel like they can control.

#6 Family and friends alienation. One of the major emotional abuse signs is isolating their victims. An abuser wants their victim to feel alienated from friends and family so that all they have to rely on is their partner.

Take note: there’s a huge difference between your boyfriend being bored at your grandma’s annual turkey dinner and him telling you, in no uncertain terms, that you will not be hanging out with your mom tonight. If he doesn’t have a good reason for you not to see your friends or family, it may be a sign of emotional abuse.

This is where subtlety can come in. Phrases like, “Why don’t you stay here and hang out with me, instead? I miss you when you’re gone,” seem sweet at first, but this may be a subtle tactic to draw you away from your loved ones. [Read: Signs you’re dating a self-obsessed narcissist]

#7 Threats of suicide. One tactic of emotional abusers is to threaten suicide if you leave. This is a major scare tactic and an outright form of manipulation. If you feel like their threats have merit behind them, then inform their close family or friends, but don’t stay in this relationship.

#8. Guilt trips. Car won’t start? She’s unhappy with her life? Hasn’t rained in a while? Must be your fault. Emotional abusers are going to blame you for basically everything they can, even when it doesn’t make sense.

What’s more, if you constantly feel guilty when you are around your partner, that’s a sign it’s time to call it quits.

#9 Unrelenting jealousy. A healthy jealousy is normal in most relationships. This is a simple sign that you are attached to your partner and don’t appreciate when the hot waitress hits on your man.

That being said, when jealousy goes from an annoyed eye roll to your partner outright blaming you for the outside attention you receive, emotional abuse is definitely cropping up. [Read: Big signs of a jealous and possessive boyfriend]

#10 They withhold sex for control. If your mate is looking to hurt you on an emotional and physical level, they may try and use sex as a weapon. Withholding sex is a powerful way to get your partner’s attention. This is also a passive-aggressive way to hurt you or express anger.

Withholding other forms of physical contact and affection is another way abusers try and control you. Their lack of affection can create a spiral of self-doubt in their victim that can degrade their self-worth.

#11 Constant calling and texting. Even though your partner is painting you as worthless, you’d best believe they’ll be blowing up your phone the minute you spend a night away from them. Texting your partner when they’re gone is usually a cute sign that you miss each other.

But emotional abusers are going to take it that extra mile. Either they will force you to be in a constant conversation with them via text, or they will try to pick a fight with you/guilt you, and try to get you to come home.

[Read: Critical signs of an unhealthy relationship]

If these emotional abuse signs have made you realize your relationship isn’t as magical as you thought, there’s help available. If you want to know the proper channels for leaving an abusive partner, call (800) 799-SAFE or visit the National Domestic Hotline.

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Waverly Smith

Waverly Smith is a freelance writer who has been getting paid for spreading her sarcastic take on love, life, and sex since 2010. She is many things that peo...

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