General Question

sanari's avatar

What does emotional abuse look like?

Asked by sanari (485points) June 14th, 2009

I think our relationship might be affected by this. I’m not quite sure, but I am always hurting.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

31 Answers

adreamofautumn's avatar

I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist and I can’t tell you for CERTAIN what emotional abuse looks like, but I can say that if you’re hurting in any way as a result of your relationship, and even more so if it seems like you’re always hurting than there is definitely something wrong and you need to remove yourself from that situation. If you feel that you can’t get yourself out of the situation or you feel unsafe or that it will escalate into physical abuse if you try to than you need to seek out help from friends, family, the proper authorities, etc. It’s NEVER acceptable for a person to be hurting in their relationship because of the way their partner is treating them whether it be physical, mental or emotional.

Aethelwine's avatar

If your SO belittles you, puts you down, calls you names or tries to control your every movement.

kenmc's avatar

A child hiding in his/her closet in the fetal position. They’re most likely rocking back and forth while whispering something strange like, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

YARNLADY's avatar

I found some great articles at This is a sample of an article found there:
* E – Emotional
* M – Mean
* O – Obnoxious or Overly Opinionated
* T – Tyrannical, taunting
* I – Inconsistent in behavior or Irresponsible
* O – Obsessive and overbearing
* N – Narcissism, negative behavior
* A – Aggressive, argumentative
* L – Liar, lays responsibility on others

* A – Abusive, arrogant, aloof
* B – Brutal, batterer
* U – Unforgiving, unreasonable
* S – Sarcastic, secretive
* E – Eccentric or egotistical

Bri_L's avatar

Does he/she always use words like “you always, your always” ?

Mentally walk through a day and think about what happens and why it happens the way it does. Is is for you or them? What would happen if you tried to discuss changes?

Do you discuss plans and what your going to do as a pair or is it decided and your told or you just find out?

Do you have fears and concerns that are the focus of his or her attacks in arguments, wether or not they have anything to do with the problem?

Are you always the problem? Is their apology really them “giving you another chance?”

adreamofautumn's avatar

@boots I don’t think wise-crack comments are appropriate until one is certain that this person isn’t in a really awful position right now. If this person is genuinely in need of advice or is being hurt in any way we should not make light of it, but do our best to point him/her to the right direction.

kenmc's avatar

@adreamofautumn I was just stating what I picture in my head when I think of the words “mental abuse”.

adreamofautumn's avatar

@boots okay, i’m sorry I jumped all over you, I just hate that occasionally on the threads serious subjects become someone’s joke fodder. Sorry for assuming the worst.

augustlan's avatar

If your SO makes you feel stupid, afraid, ashamed, guilty, sad (really any negative emotion) on a regular basis, you are most likely experiencing emotional abuse. If there are constant apologies (on either side), especially ones that begin with “I didn’t mean to… ” and end with “I’ll try to do better” and result in no tangible changes… you’re probably experiencing emotional abuse. I’m sorry to hear that you’re in this situation. I wish you the best!

MacBean's avatar

It’s ugly. :(

Bri_L's avatar

It can be passive as well as aggressive.

An ongoing quiet thing, not really talking, opening up, discussing things. Or doing so but with others and not you. Living their life as if your not a part of it. Not in a mean way, but in an exclusionary way. A way that allows them to say “what have I done?” and leave you unable to really pin down any one thing.

MrGV's avatar

People who are emotionally abused are stupid to me, seriously why do people put up with it…..

MacBean's avatar

@MrGeneVan—You sound like an emotional abuser.

whatthefluther's avatar

I agree with @MacBean…it is ugly, whether it is directed at you, or you witness it directed at someone else, particularly if it is within your home.

sanari's avatar

@Bri_L and @augustlan kind of hit it on the head for me. It’s very passive, and I can’t exactly pinpoint what’s wrong. There are a lot of apologies on my side, and I’m always placating him to avoid his anger; yet he doesn’t apologize. It’s like he’s never wrong. I really resent that he isn’t introspective enough to see what he does. He’s not available emotionally all the time…. it’s like a yo-yo ride. I feel I can’t express myself without his undermining my feelings [you’re being too sensitive, it’s not really that deep, why is THAT bothering you?].

SirBailey's avatar

You also have to remember that in a lot of cases, the abuser does NOT realize the effect what they’re doing has on the other person. Especially if they were brought up in a household where there was abuse, they think that what they’re doing is normal. And psychological abuse is the hardest to detect. Psychological abuse may be obvious when the SO calls you names, but when the SO doesn’t support you when they should, THAT can be abuse, also. You should talk to a Psychologist.

augustlan's avatar

I second @SirBailey. Therapy could really help you, even if it doesn’t help your relationship. For the actual relationship, couples counseling might have an effect.

wundayatta's avatar

Doing the following things just about all the time:

telling someone they suck
telling someone they are incompetent
telling someone you wish you didn’t have to be around them
telling them you can’t understand how they could be related to you
telling them that if it weren’t for them, the other person would be so successful
Insulting them all the time
Never saying anything positive
telling them they are weak, stupid, poor excuses for humanity

If it is unrelenting, and demanding and demeaning…

It’s emotional abuse.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Undermining someone’s perceptions. Disregarding their feelings. Constant putdowns. Belittling them. Ignoring their requests for assurance or compassion. This was how I experienced emotional abuse as a child. But I didn’t realize why I felt so awful about my relationship with my guardian until I was a teen and saw from my friends’ families how people were supposed to treat each other.

If you’re feeling bad about yourself, or like you can’t trust your feelings or decisions, if you feel like you have to walk on eggshells just to keep the peace, you’re probably being emotionally abused, and as an adult, you don’t have to take it. You can leave that situation. Do what’s best for you. Good luck.

Bri_L's avatar

@MrGeneVan“why do people put up with it…..”

Because we are all different and come from different backgrounds. Our experiences as kids, how we were treated growing up. That can affect how and why we put up with it.

Sort of how it affects the way all of us accept you chose to try and help. You chose to not take the persons feelings into consideration and make an obvious hurtful statement. Great demo.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Bri_L much lurve for pointing that out.

Bri_L's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – thanks. I didn’t type very clearly at the end. English is my second language when I am angry.

Jude's avatar

Wow, @MrGeneVan strikes again. Compassionate little fellow.~

CMaz's avatar

Look in the mirror.
Not meant to be a joke. But unlike a cut, the scar left from emotional abuse tends to be deeper.
But is not as easy to spot.

scamp's avatar

@sanari With just the little bit you’ve told us in this thread, I’d say that you may want to reconsider this relationship. Emotional abuse is just as serious if not more so than physical abus., Bruises heal, but the sting of an insult lives on long after it is spoken.

If this guy truly loves you, he should want you to be happy, and want to do whatever is needed to set things right when you are not. He should not brush it off by saying “you are too sensitive.”

I think you should stand up to this guy and tell him you will not tolerate him treating you this way any more. If you are afraid to do that, then I think you know where this is leading. As long as he can get away with demeening you, he will do so, and it will only get worse. Tell him you want to get counselling for this problem together. If he is unwilling to do this, show him the door, or find it yourself, and call it quits before it gets to the point where you have no self esteem left. You deserve to be treated better, and you hold the key to making sure you are, either with him or without him.

Never let a man or anyone treat you this way. Demand the respect you deserve, and get it or walk!! Good luck sweetie!

Bri_L's avatar

I changed my thinking back in 1995 so that in a conflict the first thought should be of oneself, not to prove yourself to be right, but to try and see how you might be mistaken. How can you see it from the other persons point of view? What could you offer as a peace branch, if you will, to let them know this is a double sided conflict you want to work together to resolve.

Right now, I know for a fact that is not my wife’s way. In fact, her way is quite the opposite. But we are married so I am trying to work with her. Get her into counseling.

CMaz's avatar

I have found one caveat with emotional abuse. They will become the abuser or find someone to abuse them again.. They have become use to it and have adapted. When someone comes into their life that is good. That person tends to trust, sometimes too much, for the abused person to handle, and that person tends to fall back onto what they know best.
Using the “skills” they have had to survive.
Therapy is definitely the way to go with your loved one, but also understand that they will deny there is any fault with them. and manipulation of the therapy session can happen.
Hopefully you find someone that can see this clearly. Therapist are not do it all people, some are better in certain situations then others. Also, you will find that as your partner is getting help, so should you. I was in two emotionally abusive relationships. In both cases the question MY therapist had for me was, why do I keep putting myself into these situations.
What is hard to accept, especially when you love someone, is that “sometimes” we have to accept that emotionally abused people have issues that can only be taken care of as a single people.

David_J1985's avatar

Here are some first-hand observations of emotional abuse:

-unusual flaking of skin [skin peeling off regardless of dryness or infection]
-stress sores forming on the edges of your lips, forcing you to ingest everything through a straw.
-Eating disorder [eating too much/ eating too little]
-Unusual behavior [hyperactive/depressing/aggressive[sp?]/lethargic].

kschoy's avatar

You should know if you’re being abused depending on how you in general and how the other person makes you feel. Someone who makes you feel low, steps on your self-esteem, calls you names, makes you feel worthless, and uses you are signs of emotional and mental abuse. I have found many victims are those that are dealing with people struggling with bipolar disorder.

wundayatta's avatar

@kschoy I have found many victims are those that are dealing with people struggling with bipolar disorder.

I guess I can see that. Sounds odd, though, since I don’t know if there’s anyone else who feels as shitty about themselves as someone with bipolar disorder. However, in my experience, when I felt the worst, I felt like I didn’t deserve anyone loving me. It became my job to try to drive my wife away. I was operating under the assumption that she had a strong sense of self and wouldn’t put up with my attacks, and kick me out. I suppose with a person who didn’t have a strong sense of self, they might actually believe thee bipolar person, and let the abuse continue.

In my case, my wife got me treated instead of kicking me out. She did wonder what I said about her was real and what wasn’t (none of it was really real, although I believed some of it at the time I said it). However, I felt so badly about myself that I couldn’t imagine anyone taking anything I said seriously.

My efforts to drive her away, conversely enough, were aimed at finding out if she really loved me. If she really loved me, she would show it, and then I could stop feeling like scum. Unfortunately, it turned out that there was not enough love in the world to make me feel ok. Catch22 and weird logic. Welcome to the bipolar world.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther