According to Brigham Young University Women’s Services, one of the signs of emotional abuse is when your partner makes unreasonable and unreachable expectations. These are expectations that are intentionally designed to make you fail and feel bad or worse about yourself. This can include constant criticism, requiring constant attention or making frequent demands.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, emotional blackmail can be a sign of an emotionally abusive relationship. Actions such as using children or other family members against you, preying on your specific fears or guilt and threatening to abandon you are all examples of emotional blackmail and abuse.
Making threats of physical violence is another symptom that you might be in an abusive relationship. Even though your partner or family member may never actually hurt you, healthy relationships should be free from the mere threat of physical violence. Intimidation can come in the form of threatening with weapons, raising a hand or fist as if to strike you without making contact.
People who commit emotional abuse often try to rationalize their behavior by telling you they are trying to help or teach a lesson. Patterns of denial are common in abusive relationships, and can include denying that certain events ever took place and refusal to listen to your thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes, in relationships, arguments can get heated and voices can get loud, but verbal abuse goes way beyond a normal argument. There is no solid definition for what constitutes verbal abuse, but according to Patricia Evans, author of the book “Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out: On Relationship and Recovery,” it is any type of spoken communication that seeks to exert control over another person. This can come in the form of constantly pointing out someone’s fears, flaws or weaknesses. The abused are often made to feel guilty for past mistakes and often slip into depression when confronted with verbal abuse, says Evans.
- Doesn’t want you to tell people about the problems between the two of you.
- Makes you feel guilty when you don’t want to have sex.
- Pressures you into having sex when you don’t want to.
- Physically forces you into submission when he wants sex after you have sad no.
- Doesn’t accept or respect your decisions.
- When chatting, sends you a lot of nudges when you aren’t answering fast enough.
- Implies that you lie or directly calls you a liar.
- Doesn’t trust you.
- Checks up on you.
- Comes to your home, school or workplace to look for you when you have asked him not to.
- Keeps sending you text messages or calling if you don’t answer.
- Hangs up the phone when he is talking to you.
- Tells you to hang up the phone when you are talking to friends.
- Gives you the silent treatment.
- Expects you to follow him and ask him what’s wrong when he walks off.
- Apologizes but then does the same thing.
- Blames you for things.
- Makes you feel guilty for not spending more time with him.
- Tells you what you “should” do.
- Tells you to do things rather than asking you to do them.
- Tells you to do things rather than telling you how he feels.
- Says he can’t live without you or he will kill himself if you leave him.
- Makes you feel responsible for his feelings
- Makes you afraid of telling him the truth, so you find yourself not telling him things or lieing to him in order to avoid fights and conflicts.
- Says things like “I can’t believe you are doing this to me.” and “You promised me.”
While all of these are emotional or psychological, remember that emotional abuse is often the first type of abuse shown or used. It often escalates and becomes a physical form of abuse. It always involves control – one partner controlling the actions of the other. If this kind of behavior is present, you have a potentially abusive situation that is likely to only get worse as the relationship progresses.
Grabbing your arm or blocking the door when you are trying to leave is one of the first signs the emotional abuse may later turn into physical violence.
Another early warning sign is physically taking something from you, like your cell phone to check who you were texting or talking to.
While the emotional abuse could lead to physical violence, it doesn’t always lead to this. The abusive person might learn he can sufficiently control you with psychological abuse, guilt trips fear, professions of love, apologies, gifts and other manipulation.