Identifying emotional abuse and how to break free from it
Emotional or psychological abuse is the ongoing emotional mistreatment of a person by another. It can involve deliberately trying to scare, intimidate, or humiliate, and allows the perpetrator to gain control over someone.
Features of emotional abuse vary, but can include belittling, blaming and highly critical behaviour. The abuser is likely to deny the abuse through manipulation of a person’s emotions, and minimises abuse by making their victim feel they’re overreacting.
Signs of emotional abuse might be your partner isolating you from friends or family, and threatening to hurt themselves if you leave. They might be extremely jealous, constantly demanding proof you’ve been faithful, and will often be highly controlling. You may be concerned about upsetting them, or feel a drop in your self-esteem.
Causes of emotional abuse vary, but the root is often feelings of powerlessness, hurt, fear or abuse. These underlying issues can be linked with childhood experiences that have often not been fully processed.
Seeking help is an important step in stopping abuse before it can become entrenched. A counsellor can work with you to understand your thoughts and feelings, and to build your confidence and self-belief.