What Are the Common Signs of Emotional Abuse?

It is a sad truth that emotional abuse is all too common in our society today. While physical abuse leaves visible signs, emotional abuse can be harder to detect and identify at first glance.

Emotional abuse often occurs in relationships and can take many forms, including verbal insults, blame-shifting, threats, and guilt-tripping. It leaves behind deep scars that affect the way victims view themselves and their relationships.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the common signs of emotional abuse so you can recognize it when it’s happening and get help if needed.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Before we get into the signs of emotional abuse, let’s first define what it is. Emotional abuse is any type of behaviour that is intended to control, belittle, isolate or punish another person through the use of fear, humiliation or manipulation.

The following are the most common types of emotional abuse and the signs to look out for.

Verbal Abuse

Abusers often rely on name-calling and put downs to make their victims feel worthless and powerless.

Name-calling is a particularly common form of emotional abuse and can range from mild comments such as “dummy” or “stupid” to more cruel insults, like calling someone an “idiot” or a “loser”.

It’s important to remember that the effects of verbal abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse and can lead to serious emotional effects, like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

These types of verbal attacks are designed to belittle victims and destroy their self confidence. The abuser creates an environment where it’s difficult for them to stand up for themselves or express their thoughts and feelings without fear of negative repercussions.

signs emotional abuse

Isolation from Friends or Family

One of the most common signs of emotional abuse is when one partner isolates the other from friends or family members.

This could take the form of discouraging contact with friends or family, controlling information about their whereabouts, or even forbidding them from seeing certain people altogether.

It’s important to note that this isn’t always done overtly. In some cases, it could be done subtly through passive-aggressive behaviour or manipulation.

They may also do this by attempting to monopolize all of the victim‘s time and resources so that there isn’t any left for anyone else, including family members who could potentially provide support and help get the victim out of the situation.

If you notice your friend or loved one has become increasingly isolated, it may be a sign that something more sinister is going on behind closed doors. This type of isolation can be particularly damaging for victims because it makes them feel even more alone and helpless against their abuser’s power.


Another one of the common signs of emotional abuse is gaslighting. This is a tactic used by abusers to make their victims doubt their own reality, memory, and perception of events.

When this happens, victims may begin to question themselves and start believing that everything they experience is wrong or invalidated somehow.

This can be especially damaging if it goes unchecked over time as victims may eventually lose all sense of self-confidence and self-worth due to the manipulation they’ve endured at the hands of their abuser.

Controlling Behaviour

Another very common pointer of emotional abuse is controlling behaviour exhibited by one partner towards another. This can range from controlling financial decisions and lifestyle choices to constantly monitoring communication with other people (such as checking text messages).

Abusers may also attempt to control how their victim dresses or behaves in public settings as well as dictate who they should be interacting with and how often. This is all done in an effort to maintain power over them both physically and emotionally.

In some cases , abusers control their victims with threats or intimidation tactics such as shouting, threatening physical violence, or using manipulative language such as “If you don’t do what I say then…” This type of intimidating behaviour creates a fearful environment where victims are constantly on edge waiting for the next outburst from their abuser.


Abusers often use manipulation in order to control their victims and gain power over them. This can take many forms such as gaslighting, lying, guilt-tripping, or making false promises.

They may also manipulate situations by using their victim’s fears against them or blaming the victim for the abuser’s behaviour.

signs emotional abuse

The following are the most common manipulation tactics used by abusers.

Lying and Deception: Emotional abusers may use lies and deception in order to gain control over their victim. This can be as simple as telling half-truths in order to create confusion or as complex as creating an alternate version of events.

Guilt Trips: Abusers often use guilt trips to make victims feel responsible for their own pain. They will frequently tell their victims that they are the cause of all the problems in the relationship and that they are selfish and irresponsible.

Withholding Affection: Manipulative abusers often use affection as a form of reward and punishment. They will withhold love, support, and attention in order to make their victims feel anxious and desperate for approval.

Blaming: An abuser may blame their victim for every problem in the relationship, even when there is no basis for it. This can make the victim feel hopeless and powerless, because it gives them no way out of the situation.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence that can have devastating consequences on victims. Abusers use finances as a way to control and manipulate their partner, making them feel helpless and trapped in the relationship.

The following are the most common tactics of financial abuse.

Withholding Funds: Manipulative abusers often withhold money from their victims as a punishment or to control their behaviour. This can make it difficult for victims to access basic necessities like food, clothing, housing, medical care, and transportation. This can be especially difficult for those who rely on the abuser for financial support due to limited access to resources outside of the relationship.

Controlling Finances: Abusers may take control of joint finances and insist that the victim only spends money on activities that benefit the abuser. Additionally, they may pressure the victim to transfer their money into joint accounts in order to gain financial control over them.

Coercion/Blackmail: Emotional abusers may use threats of financial ruin or blackmail as a way to gain power over their victims. They may threaten to expose embarrassing information or accuse the victim of something in order to get what they want.

Financial Exploitation: Abusers may take advantage of their partner by taking out loans or credit cards in their name without permission or using their partner’s social security number to open accounts without the victim’s knowledge. This can have long-term consequences such as financial debt or ruined credit scores which can lead to further damage down the line.

Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect is a subtle form of emotional abuse where one’s feelings and needs are disregarded by another person. This can include invalidation or denial of emotions, refusal to listen or engage in meaningful communication, blaming one’s emotions on the other person, or avoiding topics that may cause distress or discomfort.

Emotional neglect comes in many forms, and recognizing its presence is the first step to addressing it.

Here are a few of the main types of emotional neglect:

Ignoring: Refusing to acknowledge or validate another’s emotions, by either completely ignoring them or dismissing them as unimportant.

Invalidation: Discrediting another’s emotions by labelling them as irrational or unreasonable.

Refusal to Talk: Avoiding topics that cause distress or discomfort, and avoiding difficult conversations altogether.

Blaming: Placing the blame for one’s feelings on another person, rather than owning up to them themselves.

Emotional Isolation: Withholding communication, affection, support and connection in order to punish or control another person’s behaviour.

Unpredictability: Constantly shifting moods which can leave a partner feeling confused and insecure about where they stand in the relationship.

Trivializing Feelings: Dismissing someone else’s feelings as not important enough to merit any attention or care from the other person in the relationship

Final Thoughts: Do Not Ignore the Signs of Emotional Abuse

It’s important for us all to understand the warning signs of emotional abuse so we can help those affected by it seek out help before things get worse.

Be aware of any sudden changes in a person’s behaviour, especially if they seem more isolated than usual, as this could indicate a problem within their relationship.

If any part of this blog post resonates with you, please take steps towards getting help right away. Reach out to trusted friends and family, talk to a therapist or counselor, or find support from a local domestic violence organization.

You deserve safety, security, respect and love in your relationships. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

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