Educational Post – Signs of Emotional Abuse

Taken from – my comments in parathesis

Emotional abuse is characterized by the abuser’s manipulation and invalidation of his or her partner. Here is a list of warning signs to be aware of.

Abusive Expectations

  • Makes unreasonable demands
  • Requires constant attention, or that you spend all your free time with him/her.
  • Constantly criticizes.
  • No matter how much you give, it never seems to be enough. (and don’t expect a Christmas present, either)


  • Calls you names, accuses, blames, threatens, or gives orders.
  • Can be disguised as “helping” or “teaching.”
  • Judgmental “I know best” attitude. (and no one else knows anything and is the problem)

Constant Chaos

  • Deliberately starts arguments and may be in constant conflict with you or with others
  • Treats you well in front of others, but changes into a different person when you’re alone together, or vice versa.
  • May enjoy “drama,” because it creates excitement and brings the focus back onto him/herself.


  • Denies your personal needs, especially when that need is greatest, and does so with the intent of hurting, punishing, or humiliating you.  (Ask yourself, when you just got home from being at work 12 hours and your spouse has been home for 4 hours while your mom has watched the children- should you have to make dinner and cater to him?)
  • Denies that certain events occurred or that certain things were said.
  • Refuses to listen or communicate (silent treatment), and withdraws emotionally. (especially with family members)
  • Denies your perceptions, memory, and sanity.
  • Disallows or overrules any viewpoints, perceptions, or feelings that differ from his/her own.
  • Causes you to lose confidence in and question your own perceptions and feelings.
  • Causes you to doubt your most powerful survival tool: your own mind.


  • Manipulates the relationship so that the only feelings and opinions that count are his/her own.
  • Must have his/her own way, and will hurt your feelings if necessary in order to get it.
  • Holds you personally responsible for his/her own happiness.
  • Disregards your personal standards or beliefs, and may try to persuade you to do things that you don’t want to do.

Emotional Blackmail

  • Plays on your fear, guilt, compassion, religious values, or other “hot buttons” to get what he/she wants.
  • May threaten to end the relationship, totally reject or abandon you, give you the “cold shoulder,” or use other tactics to control you.


  • Seeks to distort your perceptions of your own world.
  • Refuses to or fails to acknowledge reality in order to create his/her own false reality.
  • If you tell your partner that you felt hurt by something he/she did or said, he/she might say, “You’re too sensitive. That shouldn’t hurt you.”
  • Or, the abuser might turn it around by saying, “You hurt me too sometimes. I just don’t say anything because I’m understanding.”
  • Suggests that your emotions and perceptions are faulty and can’t be trusted.
  • Any time your own feelings are disregarded or denied, invalidation has occurred.


  • Less extreme form of denial.
  • Says things like “You’re exaggerating” or “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
  • Trivializes by suggesting that something you have communicated is inconsequential or unimportant.

Unpredictable Responses

  • Acts angry or upset in a situation that normally would not warrant such a response, or gets angry certain times but not others.
  • Blows up or gets angry at you over innocent comments you made.
  • You feel like you have to “walk on eggshells” around him/her.
  • Has drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts.
  • Likes something you do one day, but hates it the next.

Verbal Assaults

  • Berates, belittles, criticizes, threatens, or calls you names.
  • Subtle to blatant use of sarcasm and humiliation.
  • Constantly finds flaws with you.
  • Makes fun of you in front of others, or in private.

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