How to Tell If Your Partner Is Emotionally Abusing You

by YourTango  |  photo via flickr

Is it possible that you are being abused and not even know it? Abuse is not always as obvious as being hit or shoved, called degrading names or cussed out. In fact, it can very well be underhanded or subtle. You may find yourself feeling confused about the relationship, off balance or like you are “walking on eggshells” all the time. This is the kind of abuse that often sneaks up on you as you become more entrenched in the relationship. I am talking here about psychological abuse, which is also known as mental or emotional abuse.

Psychological abuse occurs when a person in the relationship tries to control information available to another person with intent to manipulate that person’s sense of reality or their view of what is acceptable and not acceptable. Psychological abuse often contains strong emotionally manipulative content and threats designed to force the victim to comply with the abuser’s wishes. All abuse takes a severe toll on self-esteem. The abused person starts feeling helpless and possibly even hopeless. In addition, most mental abusers are adept at convincing the victim that the abuse is his/her fault. Somehow, the victim is responsible for what happened.

A more sophisticated form of psychological abuse is often referred to as “gaslighting.” This happens when false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. Examples may range simply from the abuser denying that previous abusive incidents ever occurred to staging bizarre events with the intention of confusing the victim. I listened to a client tell me that her husband denied an affair after his she found a racy email to another woman on his computer and confronted him. The husband vehemently denied this and when so far as to send an email to his tech guy asking how his account could have been hacked and to fix the problem!

Read the full article at YourTango:  21 Signs Emotional Abuse Is Happening In Your Relationship


  1. I spent the better part of my twenties in two different relationships, both of them emotionally abusive. The first one drove me into therapy, where I finally figured out that the source of all of my anxiety was that I wanted out, but was afraid to own up to it for fear of the fallout. The second one had me thinking I was crazy and just too damn sensitive. If you feel yourself shrinking around your partner, pull the plug. It is better to be alone, and fully yourself, than with someone who makes you smaller.

  2. Oh man – this brings back memories. My first relationship was full of this shit on both sides.

    I can confidently say, even in retrospect, that she was the true abusive personality in the relationship. I eventually snapped under the stress of being constantly treated like shit, and got as nasty as she was. That’s when she flipped the script and told people I was in fact the abuser. Things turned UGLY.

    But I learned. Never got burned the same way twice. I know what I’m looking at when I see an abusive personality now.

    I know that both genders do this and no gender has a monopoly on emotional abuse. But fellas: when a woman sends emotional abuse your way, it will most likely be in the form of provocation followed by the script-flip. Like, she’ll be a nasty, nasty person to you for days, weeks, years… as long as it takes; finally you’ll snap and flip a table and scream at her louder than you’ve ever screamed in your life. She’ll then cower and cry and tell you (and everybody else) that you’re an abuser; she’ll act wounded at the horrible things you said and question whether she can ever forgive you; she’ll accuse you of having a temper problem (never mind that you’ve BEEN controlling your temper for like four months). She’ll say she’s scared of you and you’re crazy.

    … and it’ll work on you! You’ll feel bad! Because a normal, non-abusive guy who gets pushed too far will still feel guilt and shame for behaving that way, no matter how he was provoked.

    I feel like everyone, male or female, is going to encounter this if they date around a lot. Learn to spot it, and learn to walk away.

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