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10 Warning Signs Of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

by Oluseye Igbafe



Recently, there has been an increase in the projection of the fight against domestic violence especially in the light of the woman allegedly murdered by her husband. The social media has become a great tool in creating awareness about the ills of domestic violence as well as creating an avenue of outcry for the victims.

There is however is a less popular yet very deadly form of abuse that many are daily subjected to. Some even have no idea that they are being abused. This form of abuse is called Emotional Abuse. While the Physical abuse batters and damages the body, Emotional abuse destroys the spirit and the soul. Ultimately both can lead to death.

So what is Emotional Abuse? Emotional abuse also called Mental or Psychological abuse involves a regular pattern of verbal offense, threats, bullying, constant criticism and intimidation. It often precedes physical abuse.

All forms of abuse take their toll on the self esteem of the abused but Emotional abuse or Physiological warfare- if you prefer- does extensive damage to the self esteem and self worth of the victim. It also causes emotional instability, sleep disturbances, withdrawal, depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, mental imbalance Fear etc.

Sometimes the victims of the abuse don't see the mistreatment as abusive and therefore remain in the relationship perpetually. While this can be done by either gender, studies seem to suggest that over 75% of abuse is done by men.

So if you are not sure what constitutes Emotional abuse, here are 10 warning signs


1. Publicly Humiliating or Embarrassing you: They degrade you publicly or ridicule you in front of others. This also involves calling you names, treating you shabbily, shouting at you, saying demeaning things to you in the presence of others. This is sometimes shrouded in jokes and you are accused of being too sensitive or lacking a sense of humor.

2. Constant Put downs: Using derogatory terms like stupid or foolish, dumb, daft etc or Using a sarcastic voice while saying things like "Aren't you supposed to be a graduate?' Shouldn't you have enough sense to figure that out? Etc They give you names, unpleasant labels and often make cutting remarks.

3. Withdrawal of Affection: Denying you love and support, refusing to meet your emotional needs. Refusing to pay compliments or show any form of endearment. Treats you like a sexual object, more interested in the process than the person.

4. Refusing to Communicate:  Refusing to talk to you and respond to you. Ignoring you when you want to talk, refusing to make eye contact or giving mono syllable responses. Refusing to tell you things that are happening thereby causing you many embarrassing moments. They deliberately shut you out and give you the silent treatment.

5. Hypercriticism/ Constant Disapproval: Subjecting you to highly unreasonable standards which others aren't subjected to. Finding fault in everything you do, seeing no good in you and dismissive of all your accomplishments and successes. They are always right and you are always wrong. Even your thoughts, opinions and feeling are judged as wrong while they never take responsibility for any wrong doing. Nothing you do is ever good enough

6. Lack of Support: They never motivate you to achieve your goals or be the best yet when you go for it; abusers become critical and cynical of your success. Rather than support you, they ridicule you and demean your efforts. When you make great achievements, they do not recognize or celebrate it rather they mock it.

7.  Isolation: Sometimes abusers drive a wedge between their victim and their friends and family. They try to keep you from your support system or keep them away from you.

8. Threatening: They always make threats. These threats are intended to breed fear and grant them control. They threaten to leave you or find another partner. They make threats to deal with you financially.

9. Extramarital Affairs or Provocative Behavior with the Opposite Sex: While withdrawing affection and support from their partners; they are quick to lavish such displays of affection on others. They sometimes engage in extra marital affairs or inappropriate relationships with the aim of provoking jealousy or hurting their partners.

10. Unreasonable Jealousy:  They become jealous of any relationship that gives you joy. They are quick to suspect and accuse. This jealousy can even be extended to your family members, same-gender friends, colleagues etc.


If you recognize any of the above signs of emotional abuse in your relationship, you need to be honest with yourself so you can regain power over your own life. If you aren’t yet married, it might be best to walk away if you are married, and are in an abusive relationship, I urge you to get start by getting some counseling and professional help and guidance.


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