8 Signs You Are In an Emotionally Abusive Relationship


Emotional Abuse is a criminal offence

Psychological, or emotional abuse is not as easy to spot as physical abuse.  There may be no physical scars or bruises, but the hurt and pain runs deep and has devastating consequences.   Being found guilty of psychological abuse in the UK could now result in a jail sentence under the Serious Crime Bill.


Victims are not responsible

Perpetrators of abuse are at the centre of their world with everything revolving around their needs.  They are master manipulators and will go to great lengths, controlling and coercing to get what they want.    If you are in an abusive relationship, it is not your fault – it may be hard at first to believe this  because one tactic the abuser uses is to make you believe that everything is your fault, and that you have caused the abusive behaviour.  It is important to remember that the abuser is the one responsible for his own behaviour, you are not.

8 Signs that you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship:

  1. Financial Control

You are not in control of the finances: He makes all the important financial decisions and keeps any financial records where you do not have access.

2. Public Humiliation

He has no problem humiliating you in public.  He may embarrass you, use sarcasm or undermine you and will enjoy watching you feel uncomfortable when this is done in public.

3. Threats

He threatens to harm, or to humiliate you.  This is often done to get what he wants.  This may take the form of ‘If you don’t do x, I will do y.’  It is not uncommon for emotional abusers to get compliance by threatening to reveal personal secrets or information you have told them in confidence.

4. Social Control

You are controlled in what you do, who you socialise with and where you go.  This may not be obvious until you realise that you are becoming more and more isolated.  He may say ‘oh, I don’t like (insert friend/family member), we will not hang out with them’.  Or he may try to turn you against them.  He may prevent you advancing in your career or studies and again this may not be obvious – he may give what seem genuine reasons why you cannot go, or wait until you are about to have that promotion interview or study class and then start an argument or suddenly find some reason/emergency so that you cannot go.

5. Entitlement

His needs always come before yours.  He feels entitled to have his needs met at all costs, whereas your needs are not important to him;  he feels superior to you.  A sense of entitlement is a key driving force in abusive behaviour.

6. Gaslighting

You are made to feel that you are the one thats crazy, mental, or even abusive.  You are left feeling extremely confused, and that it is all your fault.  If you bring his behaviour up, he may turn it back on you in an argument and call you the very things you are pointing out to him.  For example he may say ‘I’m not listening to this abuse any more’, or ‘you’re just crazy, you need to see a pscyh’.   This tactic causes the victim to doubt herself which gives him even more control.

7. Minimising

He will make light of the arguments and upset that he has caused, and may say it was just a joke – ‘You’re too serious, can you not take a joke?’, or ‘You are getting me all wrong, thats not what I meant’.   He will then move on from the argument as if nothing has happened and berate you for not doing the same.

8. Apologising

He may buy you lavish gifts and tell you how much he loves you and how sorry he is, making you feel like there is a glimmer of hope  and that things will change, however this is shortlived.  You are on an emotional rollercoaster.
If this sounds like you, the most important thing to realise is that it is not your fault.   The perpetrator of abuse is responsible for his actions, not the victim.  Reaching out to talk to someone you trust, or a professional therapist can help to clear your mind and rebuild your self esteem.  Remember, love is sacrificial.


Note: I have used ‘he’ as the perpetrator here however females are also perpetrators of domestic violence.

Find more information at womensaidni.org. Call Womens Aid 24-hour helpline free on 0808 802 1414.
Visit the Cithrah Foundation at www.cithrah.org or call on 02893 351 199


The truest form of love is how you behave toward someone, not how you feel about them.”
― Steve Hall

8 Signs You Are In an Emotionally Abusive Relationship
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