Emotional abusers have the same end goal as a physical abuser – they desire to control the other person. The difference between physical and emotional abuse is the use of physical violence (or the lack thereof). Not every negative experience with your partner can be attributed to emotional abuse. It is not emotional abuse if you break up with a partner. It is not emotional abuse if you argue with a partner. It’s not emotional abuse if your partner reacts to something you’ve done that hurt them.

So when is it emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is an attempt to control. Often, the perpetrator doesn’t even know they are abusive. The actions may come from a place of insecurity. They might not be confident of their partner’s feelings for them, and use that as an excuse to become jealous, check in constantly, or accuse their partner of cheating. These behaviours are forms of emotional abuse.

See 12 more obvious signs of emotional abuse below:

1: They humiliate you

This is the number one sign of emotional abuse. If your partner humiliates you in front of your friends or family, that is a serious red flag. The only way to combat this negative behaviour is to call your partner on it and stick up for yourself.

2: Your opinion doesn’t matter

When your partner chooses to ignore your opinion or doesn’t want to hear it, they are emotionally abusing you. In a healthy relationship, partners work together to take care of each other. If one partner decides the other one doesn’t matter, the relationship will die.

3: Constant sarcasm

If your partner is constantly using sarcasm they are likely using it as a way to get away with saying hurtful things. Sarcasm is a selfish form of humour, and likely isn’t all said in jest. Tread carefully, likely your partner doesn’t have great empathy for other people – especially you.

4: Criticism of your feelings

They don’t ever take your side on your emotional issues, instead, they call you a ‘cry baby’ or ‘too sensitive’. They won’t try to understand your side of the issue.

5: They are controlling

Partners who are emotionally abusive tend to try and micromanage. You may feel like they are watching you and judging all your actions – like a supervisor.

6: They constantly correct you

Maybe they don’t let you tell a story because you ‘can’t get it right’ or ‘they tell it better’. Maybe they try to correct your behaviour – like in social settings. Maybe they tell you not to talk so loud, or not to talk so much. Regardless of how they want you to behave, let them know that you are not a child and that you deserve freedom – just like they do.

7: They don’t want you to go out

If you say you want to go out with friends, and they freak out – that’s a sign of emotional abuse. A person who wants control of your life will often freak out if you try to make decisions they don’t ‘approve’ of.

8: They control the purse strings

If you’re living with an emotionally abusive partner, they will try to tell you where and how you can spend money – even if it’s YOUR money.

9: They communicate through hand gestures

No, not cute little ‘I love you’ hand signs. An emotionally abusive person will try to shoo you out of the room by waving their hands, etc. This is flippant and disrespectful communication, and you deserve someone who will communicate with you by using words.

10: They point out all your mistakes

It doesn’t matter if you spelt something wrong in a text, or maybe you said a word incorrectly. They always have to be right.

11: They blame you for everything

They will accuse you of things you never did – things that might never have even happened. They do this to try and guilt you so that you will be easier to control.

12: They are intolerant

You will never be good enough for them. An emotionally abusive person will have no grace for your shortcomings – yet have infinite grace for themselves.

If you are experiencing these behaviours, you are experiencing someone who does not have respect for you. Some partners are unaware how they are affecting you, and they may be open to discussion. Don’t let them get away with this behaviour – stick up for yourself!

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