What is Emotional Abuse?

Having a satisfying romantic relationship takes hard work. Knowing what to expect from a relationship and what you want from it, and how to communicate with and listen to your partner, are really important aspects of having a good relationship.

Aspects of emotional abuse are involved in many unhealthy relationships. The aim of the emotional abuser is to chip away at your feelings of independence and self-worth. In an emotionally abusive relationship, you may feel that without your partner you will have nothing or that there is no way out.

Having a girlfriend or boyfriend can be great, but there are a whole bunch of things that can get in the way of feeling content and happy. Internal pressures can come from things like jealousy, differences in age or culture, jealousy, lack of compromise, and unfulfilled or unreasonable expectations. External pressures can come from people or factors outside of the relationship itself, such as work or study, money, illness, family and friends.

Emotional abuse is a type of abuse that you can experience in an abusive relationship. Even it does not leave you with physical scars, it can have a huge impact on your confidence and self-esteem. Emotional abuse comes in many forms, which might not be obvious at first. If you feel that you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship, there are a number of things you can do to get support.

You may be emotionally abused if:

  • you are afraid of your partner leaving you
  • you feel like you are not good enough
  • your partner calls you names or puts you down.

Emotional abuse can feel as damaging and destructive as physical abuse, and can severely impact your mental health. It is common for physical abusers also to dish out emotional abuse as a way of maintaining power and control over you.


Emotional abuse can involve any of the following:

  • Verbal violence – yelling at you, swearing at you or insulting you.
  • Rejection – ignoring your presence or pretending not to notice your presence.
  • Put-downs – telling you that you are stupid or calling you names, blaming you for everything, publicly embarrassing you.
  • Causing fear – making you feel threatened, afraid or intimidated.
  • Isolation – limiting your freedom of movement, stopping you from contacting other people, such as friends or family.
  • Financial dependence – preventing you from working, withholding or controlling your money, stealing from you.
  • Bullying – purposely and repeatedly saying or doing things that are hurtful to you.

Physical violence is often seen as being more serious than emotional abuse, but this simply is not true because the scars of emotional abuse are real and long-lasting. As well as having a negative impact on your confidence and self-esteem, emotional abuse can leave you feeling anxious, depressed and even suicidal.

If you are experiencing emotional abuse, it is very important that you seek help. There are a number of services you can contact if you need someone to talk to.