Emotional Abuse

Children say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” However, we now know that verbal and emotional abuse can have devastating, long-lasting effects–sometimes even more than physical abuse. Society condemns the act of one partner hitting another, but other kinds of abuse are often overlooked.

Signs of emotional abuse include the following:
You feel frequently criticized, humiliated and put down.
Your partner is very jealous without reason, often controlling or limiting whom you talk to or see.
You feel treated like a servant.

  • Your partner uses male/female stereotypes to keep you out of decisions.
  • Your partner prevents you from getting or keeping a job, and controls your access to or information about family money.
  • Your partner’s angry voice, looks, or actions (e.g., destruction of property) make you fear for your safety.
  • Your partner criticizes your parenting to intimidate you (i.e., by implying that you might lose custody of the children).
  • Your partner tries to coerce you by making threats to hurt you or your children, or to leave you or commit suicide.
  • Your partner makes light of or denies your concerns about some of the above behavior, or blames you for causing the behavior.

A relationship can be abusive even if there is no physical violence. On the other hand, emotional abuse can sometimes escalate into physical abuse. If several of the above items apply to you, you may find it helpful to talk with a counselor.