Emotional Wellbeing



Mandy Kloppers

10 signs of emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is more common than many of us realise and the sad thing is that many suffer in silence. Victims of emotional abuse live with someone who is irrational, unreasonable and who seems impossible to please. That’s because they are – you will exhaust yourself trying to keep an emotionally abusive person happy because, in reality, they are unhappy within themselves and project this onto a target person – someone they have identified as vulnerable and easy to manipulate. Below are the most common signs of emotional abuse:

  1. Controlling behaviour

A loving, healthy relationship has no place for controlling behaviour. A partner who tries to dominate your life by telling you what to do, where you can go and what you can wear is trying to control you, it is not love. A balanced partner may not like you going somewhere that is perhaps dangerous or they may not approve of everything you do but they will rarely give you an order that you must obey. It’s all about communication and compromise in  healthy happy relationships.

2. Critical of you

An abusive partner is often very insecure underneath. They mask this insecurity by criticising and belittling you to keep you in your place. They want you to have little confidence. The more you doubt yourself the easier you are to control and the more secure they feel. It’s a vicious cycle. Of course, we can all say the wrong thing at times and hurt our partners but we try to learn from that an no do it again. An emotionally abusive partner with regularly criticise how you do things, how you look and try to make you feel inferior.

3. Isolates you from friends and family

Another way that an emotionally abusive partner will try to control you is by subtly isolating you from friends and family. They generally do this is quite a discreet manner as they can be adept at manipulation and playing with emotions. One day, you suddenly realise you hardly speak to any of your old friends or even your family members. This is a big warning sign! Never lose contact with those that care about you. An emotionally abusive partner will try turn you against people that they see as a threat. Anyone else who might challenge them or influence you has to go when n emotionally abusive person is in the picture.

4. It’s never their fault

Emotionally abusive partners rarely take any responsibility for their actions and they are skilled at turning situations around to make it seem like everything going wrong is actually you fault! They will rarely apologise and when they do, it is because it will benefit them and help them regain control.It’s all about emotional manipulation.

5. Excellent manipulators

Emotionally abusive people often come from family environments that were chaotic on some level. They will have learned early on how to manipulate to get their own way. Sadly, when parents are neglectful or abusive, their children have to be resourceful and find ways to regain power. As a child, there is very little power against adults so they find ways to get their way that are subtle yet effective and they carry this unhealthy behaviour with them into their adult relationships. Not all abusers have had difficult upbringings but a large majority have experienced significant upheaval of some sort.

6. Verbal abuse

“Slut”, “whore”, “useless”, “pathetic”, “no one will ever love you”, “fat”, “ugly”, “lazy”…these are the kind of statements that constitute verbal abuse. They are unacceptable and someone who loves you won’t speak to you in this way. Of course, we can all say the wrong thing at times but someone who regularly speaks to you in an abusive way is treating you badly. You don’t deserve to be spoken to like this…ever.

7. Supportive when it suits them

Being in a relationship with an emotionally abusive person can be very confusing. They can be kind, charming and loving at times and this can lead a victim of emotional abuse to doubt themselves. The victim longs for and loves the kind and caring part of their abusive partner and that is what keeps them in the relationship. Statistics show, however, that abuse tends to get worse over time, not better.

8. Jealous/possessive

We can all feel jealous and possessive at times but  healthy balanced person will manage this a lot better than an emotionally abusive person will. Due to being extremely insecure, they will react to any threat. Emotionally abusive people tend to snoop, check their partner’s phones and constantly be on the lookout for an indiscretion even when none exist. they can be paranoid and make life very difficult even for the most loyal and loving of partners.

9. Crazy-making/gas lighting

This is quite a severe form of psychological abuse and it can lead the victim to believe they are going crazy. Examples: The emotionally abusive person will move your keys and deny that they did or they will swear they told you about something that they never did tell you about. You can start to doubt your own sanity and perceptions of things. It is a form of mind control used to manipulate and intimidate. The term “gas lighting” comes from the 1938 play called Gas Light.

10. Silent treatment/withholding affection

Be prepared to be punished if you don’t tow the line with an emotionally abusive partner. They will let you know that you have displeased them by ignoring you or by withholding love and affection. They are cruel sociopaths and they are often narcissists – it’s all about them and their needs and they will hurt you to get their own way. A loving person won’t want to intentionally hurt you. An emotionally abusive person will often rush in and woo you quickly. Once you are emotionally hooked (they will seem perfect in the beginning, doing all the right things), the games will start and they will begin to ‘break’ you.

Recognise the patterns and the signs and either, stay away or if you feel you are in an abusive relationship, get help from a professional counsellor, a friend or family. You deserve to be cherished and loved, not manipulated and controlled!

Mandy X

Also see my You Tube video for more info on abusive relationships:


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