Emotional Abuse Unfolded

What is emotional abuse ?

Emotional abuse is insidious in nature and consequentially disregarded by victims as a cause for concern. Victims of emotional abuse  worry that the word ‘abuse’ is too dramatic in describing their experiences. But in reality … it is just that, ABUSE !

If you are on the receiving end of emotional/psychological abuse , it may not only be damaging and upsetting , but is often a prelude to bouts of depression (and sometimes chronic depression) and anxiety , low self-esteem and in severe cases ,  Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to the Serious Crime Act 2015, emotional abuse is ‘any behaviour that is controlling or coercive towards another person in an intimate or family relationship.’ The seriousness of its effect is reflected in the fact that it is now punishable by law , with a prison term of up to 5 years.

It is commonly difficult to identify the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship .Typically, the unsuspecting victim is in a cycle of self-doubt, guilt and internal criticism , deeply immersed in the aim of discovering what is wrong with them , rather than their abuser.

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Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

The red flags of emotional abuse may be categorised as follows ; Emotional manipulation , Gas-lighting , Isolation , Invalidation, Control and Emotional chaos.

Emotional Manipulation

  • Exaggerating your flaws or persistently pointing them out in order to deflect attention and avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.
  • Denying that an event took place , or lying about it (with an aim of invalidating your feelings)
  • Using your fears , values and other triggers to gain control of you .
  • Manipulating and controlling you by keeping you in a cycle of guilt.
  • Constant criticism
  • Being dissatisfied no matter how hard you try and how much you give.
  • Accusations of being too sensitive , too emotional or mentally ill.


  • A method of psychological manipulation which seeks to sow seeds of doubt within  the victim of abuse , causing them to question their own memories, perception and sanity
  • Demanding exact dates and times of specific events that have affected you , and dismissing their occurrence when you are unable to provide this information.


  • Coercing you into spending all of your time together.
  • Monitoring phone calls , text messages , social media and email.
  • Accusing you of being unfaithful and being jealous of outside relationships.
  • Demanding to know where you are at all times.


  • Acting like they  are always right, knows what’s best and is smarter than you and everyone else.
  • Talking down to you and being condescending.
  • Doubting everything you say and attempting to prove you wrong.
  • Telling you that your thoughts, feelings and opinions ‘do not make sense’ and or ‘is illogical.
  • Suggesting that your perceptions are wrong or that you cannot be trusted.
  • Refusal to accept your opinions or ideas as valid.
  • Refusal to accept your feelings and defining ‘how you should feel…’
  • Accusing you of being selfish when expressing your wants and needs.


  • Demanding with unrealistic expectations
  • Expectation of shared opinions
  • Treating you like a possession or property

Emotional Chaos

  • Crazy-making – making confusing and contradictory statements.
  • Having drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts.
  • Feeling like you are constantly walking on egg-shells when around your abuser.

It is important that you evaluate yourself and your relationship if you feel triggered by any of the signs listed above. If you find that you feel an overwhelming sense of self-doubt , worthlessness , self- loathing , are persistently criticised, controlled and invalidated … you are likely a victim of emotional/psychological abuse.

If you or anyone you know are experiencing emotional abuse , TELL SOMEONE !

Contact a counsellor , advocate or pastor , or feel free to contact me in the contacts section with your story below.

You can also call the NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE on 0800 799 7233

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