There are many kinds of abusive relationships and some do not escalate to physical contact. You may also be in an abusive relationship if your partner tries to belittle you, control you, verbally abuse you, and you experience feelings of self-loathing, desperation, and helplessness.
- Does your partner humiliate you or yell at you?
- Criticize you or frequently “put you down”?
- Ignore your opinions, put down your accomplishments?
- Treat you poorly—you are embarrassed for friends and family?
- Blame you for their abusive behavior?
Emotional abuse is any behavior designed to control another person through fear, humiliation, and verbal assault. Intimidation, manipulation, and constant criticism are all forms of verbal abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse is like brainwashing—it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and sense of self-worth. Whether this verbal and mental abuse occurs by berating and belittling, intimidation, or under a false guise of “teaching” or “guidance”, the results are the same—the victim loses all sense of self worth and personal value.
Emotional abuse can cut to a person’s core, creating long-lasting emotional scars—insults, criticism, and accusations eat away at a victim’s self-esteem until a situation can no longer be judged realistically. A victim may begin to blame herself for the abuse, and she is unable to leave her abuser because of low self-esteem. Victims of emotional abuse become convinced they are worthless, they believe no one else could want them and therefore they remain in abusive situations, believing there is nowhere else to go. The ultimate fear of being left all alone persists.
Different Types of Mental and Verbal Abuse:
Domination: Your abuser wants to control your every action, and will resort to threats to have their own way. If you allow another person to dominate and control you or your behavior, you lose self-respect.
Verbal Abuse: Criticizing, name-calling, belittling, berating, screaming, excessive blaming, threatening, and humiliation and sarcasm are all forms of verbal assault. Making fun of you in front of others and blowing flaws out of proportion can erode self-confidence and self-worth over time.
Blackmail: When your abuser plays on your feelings, compassion, guilt, or other values to get what they want. This could include threatening to end your relationship, using fear tactics for control, giving the cold shoulder, etc
Unreasonable Demands and Abusive Expectations: When a partner places unreasonable demands on you and requires you put their needs above everything else—this could be the demand for attention, frequent sex, or requires you spend all your time with them, all the while you are subjected to criticism and berated for not fulfilling all their needs.
Unpredictable Response: Drastic mood change and outbursts of emotion are another form of abuse. If your partner reacts very differently to your behavior, you are being abused with unpredictable response. This is damaging behavior as it puts you constantly on edge. Individuals with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), or those who abuse drugs and alcohol may act this way. This is anxiety provoking, causing the abused person to feel unsettled, frightened, and off balance.
Mental, emotional, or psychological abuse can both be verbal and nonverbal. While physical abuse may seem worse, scars of verbal and emotional abuse run deep—studies show that these other forms of abuse can be much more emotionally damaging, and damaging in the long term. Thousands of battered people have said that the pain of verbal and emotional abuse lasted longer than those of physical abuse. Verbal abuse causes mental anguish and deep emotional pain that can be immobilizing.
Verbal or nonverbal, and emotional abuse can be very traumatizing and take a long time to recover from, and in many cases, can precede physically abusive and threatening relationships. If prolonged, emotional abuse can cause serious emotional, mental and behavioral disorders. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you think you are involved in a mentally or verbally abusive relationship.