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Emotional Abuse in Relationships


What is emotional abuse? What are the signs of emotional abuse and typical behaviour of the abuser?


Times are certainly changing when it comes to how the UK legal system views emotional abuse and psychological bullying. In April this year, a man was convicted under new laws when he admitted using ‘coercive or controlling behaviour’ against his partner. The new offence was introduced in December 2015 and will perhaps bring some comfort to victims that suffer emotional abuse. Statistics show that a quarter of women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, with a mere quarter of sufferers actually reporting physical abuse to authorities. Sadly, emotional or psychological abuse is far less reported, because there is less evidence when no physical marks are left on a victim. Women are suffering in silence because they are afraid to come forward with little or no proof.
Emotional abuse is when somebody manipulates and controls your emotions on a psychological level using their behaviour…




The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” couldn’t be further from the truth. What is emotional abuse? Emotional abuse occurs when somebody manipulates and controls your emotions on a psychological level using their words and behaviour. A bully will often pretend to show affection for their victim, humiliate them and manipulate them to make sure that they have full control of them. They tend to have a somewhat egotistical way of life, adopting the ‘it’s my way or the highway’ attitude. However, they make you believe that you can’t live without them to force you to stay. Manipulation is their key game plan and often they have learnt this from a young age. An emotional abuser may well have experienced the signs of emotional abuse at some point during their life, before swapping roles and, sadly, filling the shoes of the abuser.
They can belittle you and make you feel powerless with a word, a gesture or a facial expression…




The abuser strongly believes that everyone should do exactly what they want. They are clever with words - affectionate and loving to the victim one moment then, within seconds, turning into a manipulative control freak. They can belittle you and make you feel powerless with a word, a gesture or a facial expression, intimidating you and making you feel guilty when you haven’t done exactly what they required. They may undermine you in one breath, then whisper sweet nothings in the next in front of your friends or family, so that, to the outside world, it looks like a perfect relationship. They keep you sweet, then they make you sweat for their attention. The abuser's aim is to have full control of what you do and think, and they will have several psychological methods at their disposal in order to achieve this.





The victim will show signs of emotional abuse in many different ways. Do you recognise any of the below?

  • Very low self-esteem or self-confidence, shy or introvert in their manner
  • Twitchy or fearful in their behaviour, on edge or agitated
  • May have anxiety, depression or, in severe cases, agoraphobia
  • Escapism behaviour – reliant or addicted to alcohol or drugs
  • Avoids social occasions with friends and family, isolated and controlled



It can be difficult to recognise the behaviour of an emotional abuser while you are suffering. Research shows that emotional abuse seems to occur in a pattern with three major types of behaviour involved:

  1. THE AGGRESSIVE: Includes accusing, shouting, screaming, threatening, name-calling, blaming and belittling. Overall destructive criticism. May be displayed in a passive-aggressive way.
  2. THE DENYING: Shows signs of neglecting, manipulation, avoiding communication, refusing to give affection, sulking and moodiness. They deny their behaviour and only start to communicate when you have given them your full attention.
  3. THE MINIMISING: Includes isolating, accusing you of overreacting, especially when you should have been praised or congratulated - does not like good attention being given to you. Unreasonably blaming you for inventing or exaggerating a situation.

 Victims of emotional abuse find it increasingly difficult to speak up because their confidence has been destroyed over time…




If you are in a relationship that makes you feel intimidated, insecure or controlled, it is likely that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. Victims of emotional abuse find it increasingly difficult to speak up because their confidence has been destroyed over time. There are some very good support groups that can be found online such as The Samaritans or Victim Support, which will give you guidance and support so that you can start to rebuild your confidence and learn how to move forward in your situation. Remember that your friends and family love you and, even if you feel isolated, it is never too late to reach out to them for help. If you have a friend or family member who you think is suffering from emotional abuse, reach out to them – you could end up being the person that helps them to stand up for themselves and walk away.





In the past, you probably imagined yourself in a stable, secure and loving relationship with someone who was kind, affectionate and understanding. Emotional abuse is not always such an obvious situation, so do not be hard on yourself for falling into the trap of an abuser. Often abuse becomes more regular and more obvious over time, through subtle methods of manipulation. Being able to focus on your future, and feeling confident and strong within yourself, is all anybody wants. Let us guide you to a happier time ahead, speak to our most sincere and compassionate psychics at TheCircle. Let us empower you for your future.



PUBLISHED: 15 June 2016

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