What are the Signs of Emotional Abuse in a relationship?

Emotional abuse is said to be more harmful than physical abuse because it cuts to the very core of a person’s self-esteem. It can cripple the victim in far more ways than physical abuse. Physical wounds heal. But emotional wounds cut deep.

What are the Signs of Emotional Abuse in a relationship?

Emotional abuse cuts to the core of a person because the behaviors are more subtle. Being told you’re ugly, that no one else could possibly love you, that you’re a deadbeat parent, and that you can’t do anything right is more about sabotaging the victim’s spirit and inner self.

What are the Signs of Emotional Abuse in a relationship?

You show off a new dress to your spouse. You picked it out because red is your favorite color. He says, “It flatters on you, but you always looked good in blue.

Do you consider it as an abusive comment? Not if it’s said in a loving gesture!

But if your spouse said something like, “Well, why do you pick THAT dress? I guess you do. if you like that sort of thing.”

Do you consider it as an abusive comment? Absolutely YES.

What’s the difference between these two statements? The differences are three-fold, tone of voice, words actually spoken, and body language. The second statement also carries a degrading undertone.

We all exhibit these behaviors on some level at points in our lives. But what makes the relationship abusive is the habitual nature of the behaviors. It happens on a continual basis and forms a pattern.

The abuser is seen as more dominant in the relationship. This person will control you through behaviors, actions, and words to erode your self-esteem, confidence, self-worth, trust (in yourself and in others), and your emotional stability.

Even non-verbal behaviors like heavy sighs, eye-rolling, disgusted glances, giving the cold shoulder, slamming doors, banging cups around, and punching holes in the walls can be considered abusive.

Abusive Behaviors

Below is a list of things that are experienced and felt like a victim of emotional abuse and domestic violence.

  • Living in fear of partner.
  • You feel so alone.
  • Feel like your opinions never matter.
  • Walking on eggshells, being extra careful about what should be said or did.
  • Feel humiliated and degraded during the many times.
  • Feel such shame when your mistakes are pointed out.
  • You feel so unwanted and unlovable.
  • Never feel appreciated for your hard work.
  • Feel criticism for the smallest things.
  • You are blamed for things that went wrong.
  • Feel like a slave.
  • You are accused of things, like cheating.
  • Never feel validated. Your feelings are always dismissed.


Emotional abuse most often is easiest to detect when witnessed. You might not be aware that you have seen it happening. It can include intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, threats, controlling behavior, and isolation. It also can involve ignoring the person and not giving them attention on purpose, such as for punishment.
Being able to recognize abusive behaviors is the first step towards ending the relationship, and beginning your healing and recovery. If you recognize these signs, I urge you to reach out. There is help out there.

Have you been in an emotionally abusive relationship? Comment below. And as always, We appreciate you sharing your stories with us.

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