Emotional abuse in relationships

Sometimes it is hard to know whether you are in an unhealthy or toxic relationship, particularly if there is no physical violence involved. Victims of emotional abuse can often feel like their feelings aren’t valid or are gaslit into thinking it is all in their head. 

The sad truth is that emotional abuse can be just as damaging and upsetting as physical abuse. The Serious Crime Act 2015 made coercive or controlling behaviour towards another person in an intimate or familial relationship punishable by a prison term of up to five years. 

We’ve collated some resources and some information in this article that will help you to understand whether your relationship is healthy or not. 

What is emotional abuse?

When your partner is emotionally abusive it is easier to brush it under the carpet than it is when they are physical but it can be just as damaging. If your partner brushes off bad behaviour with excuses such as ‘they were having a bad day’ or ‘they were under a lot of stress’ then it can be easy to think that the word ‘abuse’ is too harsh.

Emotional abuse could look like:

  • Screaming or shouting at you
  • Sulking and refusing to talk to you until you do something they want
  • Threatening they will destroy something or commit suicide
  • Telling you that it isn’t abuse and you are overreacting
  • Threatening to kill or harm you
  • Mocking you, calling you hurtful names or using derogatory words
  • Telling you that you deserve the abuse
  • Telling you that no one else would love you
  • Making you doubt your own sanity (To find out more about the red flags of gaslighting click here)
  • Telling you what you can and can’t do

To find out more about domestic abuse as a whole click here. 

The biggest thing to notice is how the behaviour makes you feel. Whether you or your partner think it is or not, if it makes you feel belittled, degraded, small and / or controlled then it is abusive.

What to do if you are being abused

The best thing you can do if your partner is being emotionally abusive is to talk to someone outside of the relationship. Speak to a friend or family member that you trust and if you need further help then seek the advice of a professional. 

If you are based in South Tyneside and need help you can get in touch with us at [email protected] or call us on 07375 788 835 (Mon-Fri 9-5)

You can find more information about emotional abuse and hear stories from victims over on the Women’s Aid website.