Am I Abused Emotionally? Learn the 5 Signs

Learn the 5 signs of emotional abuse that can't be ignored

Types of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse comes in many forms, including psychological, mental, financial, spiritual, and sexual.

Emotional Abuse, Psychological Abuse and Mental Abuse

  1. Your abuser makes you think that your thoughts and ideas are wrong. This includes gaslighting, in which even your sanity is in question.
  2. Aggressive forms of emotional abuse include name-calling, public embarrassment, bullying, and isolation from family and friends.
  3. Most emotional abusers use anger to instill fear in their victims.

Verbal Abuse

The abuser’s use of hurtful words breaks down any resistance to his or her control.

Financial Abuse

This includes withholding money that you are entitled to because either you earned it or you are a financial partner because you are legally entitled to a portion of the earned income.

Financial abuse includes making unilateral financial decisions.

Financial abuse includes efforts to prevent you from working and earning your own money.

Spiritual Abuse

Your abuser uses scripture or an authoritative position within a religious community to undermine you and de-legitimize your rights.

Sexual abuse

Your abuser forces you to engage in sexual activities.

Regardless of what form the abuse comes in, an abusive partner is wrong in his or her approach. Each person has a God-given natural right, a human right, to live free from the control of another person!

Sometimes, emotional abuse is difficult to identify since it doesn’t leave physical marks the way physical abuse does. To know the signs of emotional abuse, you need to look at the behavioral patterns of the abuser.

Even from within the relationship, it can take time before you recognize that you are in an abusive relationship. Like toxic waste that slowly contaminates the environment, abusive behavior will over time contaminate your marriage or a committed relationship.

When evaluating your relationship to determine if it is abusive or not, compare your marriage or committed relationship with your relationship with friends and coworkers. When you are with them, how do you feel? Likely you feel understood, valued, and respected.

On the other hand, how do you feel when you are with your spouse or committed partner? Do you feel the same as when you are with your friends? Do you feel respected and liked when you are with your partner as you do when with your friends? If so, likely you are in a healthy relationship. However, do you feel put down, confused, disrespected, and your feelings disputed when you are with your partner? If this is the case, likely you are in an abusive relationship.

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Abuse is different than relationship discord

Often, couples quarrel amongst themselves. Relationship conflict, although painful and regrettable, is not automatically emotional abuse. Abuse is a husband attempting to bully his wife to demonstrate that he is ‘the boss,’ or the opposite, a wife bullying her husband to claim her role as being ‘superior.’

  • To ‘get one’s way’ on a particular issue is not abuse. It is arguing.
  • To ‘establish a rule’ that one person makes all the decisions, regardless of how his or her partner thinks or feels, is abuse.

When answering the question, “Am I abused emotionally?” you need to consider both possible explanations for your relationship problems.

Examples of relationship conflict verses relationship abuse:

  • Arguing over what color to paint the bedroom is not a sign of emotional abuse. Rather, this quarreling is an expression of differing opinions, and though the bickering is unfortunate and unpleasant, it does not mean you are in an emotionally abusive relationship.
  • Arguing to establish a ‘relationship rule’ that a particular individual always makes the home decorating decisions, regardless of their partner’s feelings, is an example of abuse.

If the intent of the argument is to establish a ‘relationship rule’ that one member of the relationship makes the decisions because of a belief in his or her superiority or entitlement, this is emotional abuse.

If Mary needs to make an important phone call and is insistent that her husband quiet the children so their playing does not disturb her call, this is not emotional abuse. In this case, Mary only wants some help from her husband.

If Greg insists his wife is ALWAYS responsible for keeping the children quiet so they don’t disturb him when he watches TV, takes a nap, uses the phone, or simply wants quiet time, this is emotional abuse. The ‘always’ implies an entitlement to be treated special regardless of how Cindy feels or what her needs might be — this is emotional abuse.

Dina insists her husband, Peter come home immediately after work and help her in the home. When Peter is home, she demands he comply with her instructions since she knows best how to do things ‘correctly’ and he is not allowed to stop helping her until she says he can stop.

If Peter attempts to resist her control or do things in a way other than how she wants them done, Dina threatens him with divorce and says he will never see his kids again. This is emotional abuse!

Joe, wanting to get together with some friends and go to a sports bar to enjoy a game, meets with opposition from his wife, Mary.

Mary explains her mother is having a birthday party on this particular evening and she would like him to attend with her. They argue about whether Joe should go to the sports bar or the birthday party.

This is not emotional abuse. Rather, this is an argument more about what is more important as a couple — family responsibility or relaxation.

Susan likes to occasionally get together with some of the friends she had before she married Sean. However, Sean has told her she is no longer ALLOWED to associate with her old friends, and she needs to stay home in the evening and keep him company.

They always fight whenever she wants to go out. Sean threatens her with punishment, and he prevails. Susan stays home. This is emotional abuse because the intent is to isolate and control Susan’s life.

In the above examples that are labeled ‘abusive’ the intent is to establish permanent and systematic control over one’s partner.

The ‘intent’ of the disagreement is one of the most important signs of emotional abuse.

When the intent is to establish superiority and entitlement over one’s partner, then it is emotional abuse.

Every person is of equal value, and no one has the right to control another person.

Should an individual try to claim superiority and claim the right to control his or her partner, this is abuse and must be resisted and denounced.

An abuser’s general opinion of you and your relationship with him or her is as follows:

  • Insisting on respect. Chastising you when you are deemed to not have been sufficiently respectful.
  • Controlling communication. When, how, what to talk about.
  • Dehumanizing you. Disregarding your feelings and needs.
  • Controlling your socializing. Taking the position that you don’t know when you should be talking to others, what you should say, and how to conduct yourself.
  • Demanding your attention. Your abuser becomes jealous and tries to stop you from talking to friends or family, or insists you stay home should they want something from you.
  • Unfeeling. You are hurt or crying and your abuser doesn’t care.
  • Invalidate your feelings. Whenever you share a feeling it is considered to be “wrong.”

5 Definitive Signs of Emotional Abuse

emotional abuse ti characterized by intent of behavior power disparity escalation duration repetition

The abuser intends to assert that he or she is superior to his or her partner and that this entitles him or her to the right to make decisions and control.

The abuser’s systematic harsh criticisms of his or her partner are a clear sign that he or she is attempting to establish dominance.

The abuser wants to establish the belief that he or she is always ‘right’ and that his or her partner is always ‘wrong.’

Abusers establish power over their partners in two ways:

  1. Physical. Having more resources such as money, ownership of material goods, a larger body, a louder voice, or a gender advantage (such as being a man).
  2. Position. Having convinced his or her partner that because of his or her superiority, this then naturally leads to the conclusion that they should make all the decisions.

The abuser’s authority is expressed with an aggressive twisting of the victim’s thinking, insisting that it is a pathetic collection of absurdities (gaslighting).

The abuser’s fight to have all the power is no different from that of a cult leader who brainwashes his or her subjects and then demands compliance.

Typically, emotional abusers are willing to squash any challenges to their power and proceed with the belief that it is ‘any means to an end.’

The abuser may take away their partner’s car keys or wallet, break personal belongings, or even resort to physical assault.

To an abuser, normal limitations do not apply. In their mind, they believe they are entitled to control and that nothing will ever get in their way of achieving whatever he or she desires.

Emotional abusers are comfortable making their partners uncomfortable.

Because of this, they are prepared to sustain a fight as long as it takes to establish and maintain their superiority and control.

At the time of conflict, an abuser’s arguing, threats, and curses, may go on for hours or manifest as passive-aggressive anger or withdrawal for long periods.

An emotional abuser may seek to punish his or her partner by refusing to engage in romantic and sexual activity.

An emotional abuser knows that he or she must continually assert his or her dominance.

Thus, the abuser asserts the same demands repeatedly without considering the needs of his or her partner or the current situation.

Should the victim assert his or her right to be free or independent, the response of the abuser is predictable. He or she will repeat his or her efforts to assert control and not let up until he or she has conquered any resistance.

Which is it... relationship conflict or emotional abuse?

Differentiating between conflict and abuse is a key step in determining whether or not your relationship is emotionally abusive.

Conflict is common in a relationship and a relationship problem to be solved.

On the other hand, abuse is not a relationship problem — it is a problem with the abuser.

Abuse is not reasonable nor acceptable, ever.

You have now learned The 5 Definitive Signs of Emotional Abuse, and hopefully you can now answer the questions, "What is emotional abuse" and, "Am I abused emotionally?"

If your answer is "Yes," I am being abused; get immediate help to correct this relationship disease. If not corrected, it will destroy you, your relationship, and likely every person living in your home.

No one deserves to be abused.

It is up to you to take the first step to STOP IT!

Take our FREE Emotional Abuse Test and find out if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. No email required. Emmediate results.

ONE MILLION INDIVIDUALS have taken this scientific-based Emotional Abuse Test!

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abe kass

Abe has helped thousands of individuals, couples, and families for twenty-five-plus years. When it comes to relationship expertise — Abe is the real deal and can be trusted!

abe kassProfessional Therapist Abe Kass MA RSW RMFT

Abe has helped thousands of individuals, couples, and families for twenty-five-plus years. When it comes to relationship expertise — Abe is the real deal and can be trusted!