The Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Abuse in Relationships

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The cycle of abuse and violence often begins with emotional abuse within a relationship which intensifies over time. Emotional abuse, also known as psychological or mental abuse is a series of ongoing or continuing incidents which develop over time into a pattern or cycle of abuse. This emotional abuse can eventually lead to physical abuse such as violence within relationships. While there may be no physical signs of emotional abuse, its impact on the victim can be devastating and soul destroying. Before we identify the signs of emotional abuse, let’s first understand one of it’s definitions

Emotional abuse is “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”

It is helpful to be aware of the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse so that you are able to name any unacceptable behavior which may have a negative impact on your sense of self. Prevention is safer than cure as emotional abuse takes its toll on the victim’s confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and resilience.

Emotional abuse may be an ongoing pattern of one or more of the below;

  • Blaming.
  • Bullying.
  • Constant put-downs.
  • Controlling.
  • Criticising.
  • Degrading.whiteribbon
  • Demanding.
  • Dismissing.
  • Disrespectful.
  • Extreme moodiness.
  • Ignoring.
  • Insulting.
  • Interrogating.
  • Intimidation.
  • Judging.
  • Manipulating.
  • Neglecting.
  • Passive aggressive.
  • Punishing.
  • Refusing to communicate.
  • Rejection.
  • Sarcasm.
  • Shaming.
  • Shouting.
  • Threatening.
  • Unpleasant tone of voice.
  • Withholding love and affection.

Many of these behaviors can also be associated with poor communication skills and a lack of awareness and empathy of the negative impact on the recipient. Naming and disclosing how you feel about the way you are being treated is an important part of preventing the cycle of abuse from developing. While respecting your own thoughts and feelings about what is acceptable to you in your relationship is equally important. Get support from loved ones, family and friends about how you are feeling and if necessary seek professional help and support.

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Orlagh Gahan is a an accredited Psychotherapist, Sex and Relationship Counsellor, Addiction Counsellor & Complementary Health Therapist in private practice and online in Co. Kildare, Ireland. She specialises in well-being, sex & relationships, fertility & infertility, pregnancy and recovery from addiction and illness. Book online for Face to Face Therapy and Online Consultations worldwide via DOXY.ME! Check out

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