Most people are familiar with verbal abuse: hurting someone through yelling, belittling, and being mean to them. This can be very damaging and affects a person's self-esteem and self-worth. But emotional abuse can also include stalking, ignoring, and threatening you (or threatening that the abuser will do something to themselves if you don't follow their rules).
There can also be a lot of blame or making you feel guilty about things or even starting rumours about you.
Abuse can happen in any kind of relationship, whether homo- or heterosexual, and marriage. All genders can be perpetrators or victims of emotional violence.
Other than verbal abuse, your partner might reject, isolate, ignore, or terrorise you. This can be done through words but also through actions, like taking your phone away so you can't contact friends or family.
If your partner corrupts you, they will encourage you to do dangerous or illegal things, like taking drugs, or something that could be harmful to yourself or others.
Finally, a partner who exploits you takes money or other valuables away from you or forces you to do things you don't want to do.
Some people who are being emotionally abused don't even realise that they are being abused. Abuse can slowly creep into a relationship. You get used to your partner calling you ugly names – it becomes 'normal'.
Your partner may even claim that their controlling nature is just their way of showing that they care for you and to protect you.
Also, from the outside, it may look like everything is perfectly fine. But that doesn't mean that's really the case.
Often, the abuser will apologise and promise that it will never happen again. But it most likely will.
Some people brush off emotional abuse as not as harmful as physical or sexual violence. That's not true. There may be no broken bones but there's more to what can break in a person. And, emotional violence can easily turn into physical violence.
But, the dismissal of emotional violence can make it really difficult to get other people to understand just how serious emotional abuse is and why people may need help.
Get out. As soon as it is safely possible. Confide in a friend or family member and ask them for help. It might seem impossible but you will be able to do it if you are well-prepared. You've already shown extreme strength and resilience by enduring your partner's abuse.
If you have children, make sure they are safe, too.
And if leaving doesn't work out the first time, try again if you can. Eventually, you will be able to escape this toxic relationship.
If you have questions about any form of violence or if you need help, don't hesitate to talk to one of our forum moderators.