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signs of emotional abuse in a relationship

Most of us enter into a relationship carrying our unique identity and behavior. Things in the starting do seem smooth until they start taking ugly turns. What’s more confusing is the identification of getting emotionally abused in a relationship. This article covers some of the crucial signs of emotional abuse in a relationship.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is an instant or systematic series of events that creates emotional disbalance in a person. Emotional abuse, unlike its physical counterpart, wears many masks. This is so craftily done that victims often can’t identify it, but it still suffocates their spirit. The sole purpose of an emotional abuser is to exert power and control over the victim. This dreadful tool, if left unnoticed for a long time, can cause trauma, depression, severe anxiety, OCD, etc.

Take a look at some signs of emotional abuse in a relationship.

Signs of emotional abuse in a relationship

  • Sarcasm or teasing are used as tools to put you down. Usually, they target your past mistakes, experiences, or even body shaming. The purpose is to make you feel bad about yourself.
  • They keep you unpleasant and in charge and start arguments over holidays or other special occasions. You get anxious days before an occasion and get sad instead of feeling excited.
  • You aren’t allowed to make individual decisions even for something as simple as groceries. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
  • They often accuse you of being “too sensitive” and labeling you a “weak” person whenever you need their support.
  • They humiliate, put you down, or make fun of you in front of others. This is one of the most common signs of emotional abuse in a relationship.
  • They get irritated and violent when you take a stand for yourself. They emotionally abuse you, accusing you of belittling their opinion.
  • Threats or negative remarks become common, and the intention is to frighten or control you.

Types of emotional abuse

Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse includes a range of deceptive and harmful tactics. These tactics are used to erode the victim’s self-worth and sovereignty.

Let’s take a look at some of these tactics, which will help you to identify signs of emotional abuse in a relationship.


The abuser uses this tactic to reinforce power over the victim. The reason could be small, but the abuser does not miss the chance to humiliate you. He doesn’t hesitate to humiliate you, even in public. No doubt the purpose is to demean or embarrass the victim.


No matter how good you are at your work, the abuser still finds a way to criticize you. The frequent criticism eventually leads to a mental breakdown, resulting in low self-esteem and low self-confidence.


Intimidation in emotional abuse includes using threats, aggressive behavior, or gestures to instill fear and submission in the victim, often making them feel powerless and constantly on edge.

Emotional Blackmail

The abuser manipulates and controls the victim by taking advantage of their emotions to further their own goals. They emotionally blackmail the victim by using guilt, fear, or duty.

Neglect and Rejection

The abuser uses this narcissistic tactic by consistently ignoring the needs, feelings, and presence of the victim. This may lead to the victim feeling unloved and insignificant.

Blame Shifting

This is one thing in which every emotional abuser has expertise. The blame for harmful actions is deflected toward the victim very cunningly. The victim thus experiences a mixed feeling of guilt and frustration.


The abuser purposefully makes the victim question their understanding of events, experiences, and memories. This creates dark clouds of doubt that won’t go away before raining frustration, self-doubt, trauma, and guilt.


Recognizing the signs of emotional abuse in a relationship is essential for safeguarding one’s mental and emotional well-being. You can take proactive steps to protect yourself once you identify the unhealthy patterns.

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