27 Little Known Signs of Emotional Abuse

“The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. In fact, even among women who have experienced violence from a partner, half or more report that the man’s emotional abuse is what is causing them the greatest harm,” explained Lundy Bancroft.

Unfortunately, most victims of emotional abuse don’t see it for what it is until they are in far too deep to get out easily.

Here are 27 warning signs that need to be taken seriously:

1. When your partner is unhappy, you are always to blame.

2. They become angry if you do not answer phone calls, text messages, or emails right away.

3. They share your secrets, private moments, fears, insecurities, or even sexual experiences with others. Nothing is safe or off-limits.

4. They make your accomplishments feel small and unimportant. If you have a career, they likely treat it as a hobby.

5. They claim to always know what is best for you, and pressure you into allowing them to make choices that should be yours.

6. Your partner often accuses you of things that you did not do.

7. They make “suggestions” that you have no choice but to take. You are afraid of what will happen if you don’t.

8. Your partner often insinuates that they are somehow above you. They try to make you feel as if you are lucky to have landed them, and don’t truly deserve to be their significant other.

9. They demand to be included in all of your plans.

10. They become angry when you tease them, even in private and in a loving way.

11. They always win arguments. You always lose. There is no compromise or give-and-take.

12. Your partner sometimes calls you names or uses demeaning and offensive language.

13. Your partner may punish you by withholding sex, affection, or even conversation.

14. They criticize you in public, in small ways that only you can see – such as an eye roll or a disapproving glance.

15. When you try to express your feelings, they dismiss you as being too sensitive or emotional.

16. They constantly bring up mistakes you have made in the past.

17. They forbid you from seeing certain friends or family members. If they do not approve of a loved one, that person is out of your life – regardless of their importance to you.

18. They dismiss your ambitions and goals. They convince you that your dreams are impractical, unattainable, or even silly.

19. Your partner maintains full control of the finances. They often question your spending habits or prevent you from making reasonable purchases.

20. You are afraid to fail in front of them.

21. They always need to know where you are and who you are with. Sometimes they might even check on you.

22. They tell jokes at your expense. They may be personally insulting, or hurtful in a more universal way, involving sexism or racism.

23. Your partner’s personal and professional failures always seem to be your fault.

24. They control your major life decisions, including educational and career choices.

25. You find yourself falling into perfectionism and obsessive behavior to avoid your partner’s criticism. Still, it never seems to be enough.

26. When you’re with your partner, you feel like you can’t do anything right.

27. Your partner thinks it’s funny to humiliate you in front of people you care about.

If your relationship mirrors this list, it is likely you are a victim of emotional abuse.

I would urge you to leave the relationship as soon as possible and to seek help in maintaining your emotional well-being as you do so.

Here are some helpful resources to get you started:

The Women’s Resource Center

Safe Horizon

Hope for the Heart

Break the Cycle

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