When the topic of domestic abuse comes up, we typically think of sexual violence and other forms of physical assault. However, while often overlooked, the impact of emotional abuse can be just as harmful.
So, what is emotional abuse? Emotional abuse can sometimes be paired with physical violence, but it essentially boils down to one person exerting a level of domineering control over their partner.
Emotional abuse primarily occurs through verbal attacks—either in frequent insults and devaluing remarks designed to hurt an individual’s sense of self-worth, or in the form of threats and shouting matches.
As with other forms of domestic abuse, victims are sometimes unable to recognize that they are victims—they believe what their partner says, and they think their partner actually cares about them.
This can make it difficult to identify when emotional abuse is taking place, but there are still signs you can watch out for. While public verbal abuse is a clear indicator that something is wrong, most warning signs are more subtle.
In particular, a person who seems unable to make decisions on their own or has their actions and choices limited because of their partner may be suffering from domestic abuse. Victims often withdraw socially, and may develop other mental health issues such as depression or an eating disorder.
By staying alert and being aware of the signs, you will be able to recognize when a friend or family member needs help and point them to the resources that will allow them to escape the cycle of abuse.