What is Emotional Abuse?

An emotionally abusive person may “dismiss your feelings and needs, expect you to perform humiliating or unpleasant tasks, manipulate you into feeling guilty for trivial things, belittle your outside support system or blame you for unfortunate circumstances in his or her life. Jealousy, possessiveness and mistrust characterize an emotionally abusive person”[1]. In summary, emotional abuse includes the following:

1. Acting as if a person has no value and worth; acting in ways that communicate that the person’s thoughts feelings and beliefs are stupid, don’t matter or should be ignored.

2. Calling the person names; putting them down; mocking, ridiculing, insulting or humiliating them, especially in public.

3. Controlling through fear and intimidation; coercing and terrorizing them; forcing them to witness violence or callousness; threatening to physically harm them, others they love, their animals or possessions; stalking them; threatening abandonment.

4. Isolating them from others, especially their friends and family; physically confining them; telling them how they should think, act, dress, what decisions they can make, who they can see and what they can do (limiting their freedom); controlling their financial affairs.

5. Using that person for your own advantage or gain; exploiting their rights; enticing or forcing another to behave in illegal ways (for example, selling drugs).

6. Stonewalling and ignoring another’s attempt to relate to and interact with them; deliberately emotionally detaching from a person in order to hurt them or “teach them a lesson”; refusing to communicate affection and warmth, or to meet their emotional and psychological needs.
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