Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can chip away a person's self-esteem and lead to a number of signs of emotional abuse such as criticism, fault finding and other aggressive behavioral problems. Read on to know more about the signs of emotional abuse in a relationship and in children.
Abuse in any form is a behavior that seeks to subjugate and control the other person in a relationship. While our picture of abuse is usually restricted to physical abuse, emotional abuse is just as rampant in a bad abusive relationship as physical abuse. In fact unlike in a physically abusive relationship where you can see the marks, emotional abuse leaves scars of humiliation and distress that is difficult to see but is just as harmful to a person. So if you feel that your partner is ignoring you, disrespecting and ridiculing you in public and always criticizing you, then you might be involved in an emotionally abusive relationship. Here are some signs of emotional abuse in a relationship.

Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship

Most people describe the relationship with an emotional abuser as a feeling of "walking on eggshells". This is because of the use of control tactics by the abuser such as fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion and manipulation. The problem is that most of these psychological tactics are difficult to identify and thus, hard to deal with even by the victim himself/herself. However, the most common signs of emotional and psychological abuse is the chipping away of the feelings of self-worth and independence. This is accompanied by feelings of helplessness and the sense of being chained to the relationship. You can identify whether you are emotionally abused or not by looking for the following signs of emotional abuse in a relationship.
  • Isolation of the person, especially, from family and friends
  • Intimidation
  • Humiliating and disrespecting you in front of others
  • Criticizing you constantly
  • Yelling at you and calling you names
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Abusive expectations
  • Denying your emotional needs
  • Domination and controlling behavior
  • Emotional blackmail
  • Invalidation, minimization and trivialization of the victim's feelings
Verbal assaults be it berating, belittling, criticizing, name calling, screaming or threatening are some of the most common signs of emotional abuse in a relationship. This leads to depression, feelings of worthlessness, low self worth and low self-esteem, nervousness, pessimistic behavior and even substance abuse in certain cases.

Signs of Emotional Abuse in Children

Sadly, emotional abuse in children is the most common form of child abuse. More than the physical abuse that results in broken bones and bruises, child abuse in the emotional form can leave behind long-lasting scars for life. Whether the abuse is being perpetuated by friends, relatives, people in the day care centers or even by the parents, it is important to recognize the signs of emotional abuse in children to try and eliminate the problem before it can ruin your child's life.

Emotional abuse in children consists of verbal abuse in the form of name calling, blaming and threatening the child with physical punishment. Moreover, a child needs parental affection and love. Ignoring the child and rejecting its advance of love can be painful for the child. Exposing children to violence, abuse of others and inappropriate behavior such as crime, sex, violence and excessive alcohol and drug use constitutes emotional abuse and can negatively affect a child's psyche.

This emotional abuse can lead to signs such as physical, mental and emotional development lags, self depreciation by the child, speech disorders, overreaction to mistakes, neurotic suicidal behavior such as self-mutilation, rocking and extreme passivity or aggression. The child will seem excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong. The best way of treating this problem and protecting the child is by child abuse reporting.

Recognizing the signs of emotional abuse be it by a parent or some other loved one can help you take a positive step towards a change. This is important for your well-being as emotional abuse can worsen over time and escalate into physical abuse and battery.
By Parul Solanki
Published: 2/1/2010
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