12 Signs You May Be In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Ally Villar
·6-min read

Emotional abuse is just as terrible as physical abuse. But it isn’t immediately recognised when compared to the latter. In fact, in most cases it can be more harmful than physical abuse and strangely enough, even the biggest signs of emotional manipulation can slip through the cracks and cause tremendous harm to a person’s mental health.

Whether it’s a hurtful phrase thrown at you by your partner or name-calling in the midst of a heated argument; any word meant to diminish your self-worth or manipulate you can be a red flag of psychological abuse. 

If you notice any of these signs of emotional manipulation and abuse from your partner, consider asking for help before your situation turns even worst. 

12 Signs Of Emotional Manipulation In Relationships

signs of emotional manipulation
signs of emotional manipulation

Keep an eye out for acts like hiding things from you or insisting that you did something, even though you didn’t. | Image source: iStock

1. ‘Gaslighting’ is a fun activity for your partner

Victims of gaslighting are manipulated into doubting themselves. They question their thoughts as well as memories. Infact, the term comes from a movie called Gaslight where a husband manipulates his wife into convincing her she’s mad. Crazy right?

Actually, it’s an incredibly effective and harmful form of manipulation that can be found in many types of relationships. That is why it’s important that you immediately recognise whether your partner has been gaslighting you. Keep an eye out for acts like hiding things from you or insisting that you did something, even though you didn’t.

2. Physically threatens you

Once your partner threatens you with physical abuse, that in itself is a red flag. This is even when they’ve never laid a finger on you.

Physical threats to harm you or your child bring upon a heavy burden on the victim. It can leave them fearing for their lives and that of their children’s. 

3. Constantly wants to know where you are and who you are with

Being controlling of your partner is one of the big signs of emotional manipulation. When the abuser becomes borderline obsessive, violates boundaries, and always wants to know where you are, where you’re going, what you’re doing or who you’re with, it can be seen as a form of harassment.

“What can seem like genuine concern is often a way for an emotionally abusive person to be in total control when they are constantly keeping tabs on another person’s schedule,” says Lisa Ferentz, author of the book Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Trauma Survivors: A Clinician’s Guide. 

She adds, “Wanting an ongoing account of another person’s whereabouts, in addition to [a person] limiting where their partner goes or who they spend time with, are powerful examples of emotional abuse.”

4. Insults you and passes sarcastic remarks 

Name-calling or criticising you in form of insults can be a form of verbal abuse. Even if your partner defends them as simple just jokes and claims the victim is just sensitive, it could do a lot of damage to your self-worth and well-being. 

5. Forces you to apologise when you’ve done nothing wrong

An emotional abuser may manipulate their victim into thinking they’ve done something wrong even when they haven’t. They would leave their partner into blaming themselves instead.

Just like gaslighting, the abuser will try to convince the victim that latter should apologise for something they did tp upset the abuser. This may happen even if what the victim did was not worth apologising for.  

6. Your partner belittles you

When they say things to invalidate your accomplishments and belittle you, while also constantly criticising everything you do. This is one of the crucial signs of emotional manipulation and could be harmful to one’s self-esteem. 

signs of emotional manipulation
signs of emotional manipulation

Emotional abusers can be extremely controlling. They may make you doubt yourself. | Image Source: iStock

7. Does things to scare you

Outbursts of anger may lead the emotional abuser to slam doors or punch walls. They may even threaten you that they’ll leave you for good while also taking your kids or pets with them. 

All of this is meant to frighten the victim and falls under physical threats. 

8. Your partner humiliates you

It could take a huge toll on someone when their partner humiliates or ridicules them, especially in front of other people. Emotional abusers can be extremely controlling. They may make you doubt yourself, which in turn feeds their agenda of coercing and manipulating you to do as they please. 

9. Nitpicks at your appearance, work, and more

Aside from humiliation, emotionally abusive partners may also be controlling about how you look and how you dress. They may even want to have power over your finances as well as criticise what you do at work. 

10. Accuse you of cheating

When emotionally abusive partners turn jealous of other people you spend time with, they may tend to accuse you of cheating. They would probably not hear your side out when you deny these allegations.

If they’re the ones cheating, they might also blame you for their actions of infidelity. 

11. Isolates you from family and friends

In order to exert further control, your partner may prevent you from visiting your family or friends and cut off contact with them completely. They may even stop you from going to work or meet up with other people. 

signs of emotional manipulation
signs of emotional manipulation

If your partner isolates you and doesn’t speak to you for hours or even days, it’s a sign of emotional manipulation. | Image courtesy: Pixabay

12. Silent treatment

In an attempt to make you worry, your partner may also use the silent treatment on you. Remember that ignoring somebody as well as disregarding them can be a form of emotional abuse. 

3 Best Ways To Deal With Signs Of Emotional Manipulation

Here’s what you can do when you find yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship:

  • Accept the truth. The first step is to be honest with yourself and acknowledge that you’re a victim of emotional abuse. This way, you can start moving forward to figure out how you can help yourself.

  • Create your own support group. It’s important that you have people who will be there with you no matter what happens, whether it’s your family members or friends. 

  • Do not hesitate to seek professional help. It may be difficult to open up about your situation but it would help greatly talking to a therapist who can support you into healing from this. 

With reports from Nasreen Majid

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