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Mary Bohan - Emotional Abuse

Nothing is more destructive to self-confidence and self-esteem to a person than being in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Unlike physical violence, emotional violence is more insidious and elusive. In some cases, neither the offender nor the victim are fully aware that this is already happening. In fact, emotional violence can occur in any relationship - between a parent and a child, between friends, relatives, colleagues...

So, what is emotional abuse? It includes regular "verbal crime," threatening, delinquents’ behavior and constant criticism.

Emotional violence is used to control and subjugate another person. Quite often this happens because the offender, after having experienced some wounds and injuries in his childhood, abuses it himself, inflicting injuries of exactly the very same kind to the partner.

Victims of violence often do not perceive mistreatment as offensive. They develop protective mechanisms, such as denial and minimizing suffering, to cope with the stress easily. But the effects of long-term emotional abuse may cause severe emotional trauma to the victim, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Here are some signs of emotional violence that abusers use in relationships:

  1. They humiliate you, often in public.

  2. They regularly ignore your opinions, ideas, suggestions or needs.

  3. They use sarcasm or teasing to degrade you or make you think badly of yourself.

  4. They accuse you of being "too sensitive" to distract you from their offensive remarks

  5. They try to control you and treat you like a child.

  6. They are trying to correct your behavior or hold you reproached for it.

  7. You feel that you need being permitted to make some decisions or, for example, to get a permission to just go out somewhere.

  8. They try to control finances and the way you spend your money.

  9. They humiliate and devalue you, as well as your achievements, your hopes and dreams.

  10. They're trying to make you feel like they're always right and you're not.

  11. They give you disapproving or contemptuous views or condemn you with the help of body language.

  12. They regularly point to your mistakes or flaws.

  13. They accuse you of things which have never happened, or these accusations are untrue.

  14. They do not know how to laugh at themselves and cannot tolerate when others laugh at them.

  15. They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.

  16. Justifying their behavior, they try to blame others, and experience difficulties with apologizing.

  17. Regularly violate your borders and ignore your requests.

  18. They accuse you of their own problems, troubles or misfortunes.

  19. They call you unpleasant names, put on unpleasant labels, or make harsh remarks.

  20. They are emotionally distant, cold, or emotionally inaccessible most of the time.

  21. They draw distorted conclusions about what they see in order to attract attention or achieve what they want.

  22. They do not show you sympathy or compassion.

  23. They play sacrifice and try to blame you instead of taking personal responsibility.

  24. They leave, neglect you, or leave you to punish or intimidate you.

  25. They do not notice or care for your feelings.

  26. They see you as a continuation of themselves, not as a person.

  27. They use sex as a means for managing and control. For example, they reduce the number of contacts to a minimum.

  28. They tell personal information about you to others.

  29. They deny their emotionally abusive behavior.

  30. They subtly, do not directly threaten you or make negative remarks in order to intimidate or control you.


- People with weak and permeable personal boundaries. Such people do not fully realize what they themselves want, so they easily neglect their needs to please the desires of others, do not know how to say no, and are easily manipulated.

- People using such protective mechanisms of the psyche as denial and displacement, simply "swallow" emotional aggression to their address, do not let their negative experiences into the realm of awareness, habitually they are supplanted, depriving themselves of such kind of data as emotions, the possibility of making decisions based on their emotions.

- People-alexithymics: they hardly understand and describe their emotional states, easily become infected with other people's emotions, for example, fear, which makes them vulnerable to manipulation and use.

The victim of domestic violence does not appear at once, the rapist sneaks up to it carefully. A person gets used to violence and can realize what is happening only when the pressure on his psyche can no longer be overlooked.

Only by realizing that he was a victim of psychological manipulation can a person think about the prospects of such a not healthy relationship. You need to ask yourself a few questions:

Do I enjoy such a relationship?

Am I safe next to such a person?

Is this relationship good for me?

Am I able to end this relationship at any time and at will?

By honestly answering these questions, a person can decide to change herself and her fate.

Do not forget, life is given only once, and everyone has the right on happiness, and respectful treatment.


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