Emotional Abuse


Emotional Abuse

Adapted from EWA, Canada

Many survivors find that emotional abuse is difficult to name or even talk about. They often wonder if it is serious because you cannot see it, like bruises or broken bones. Emotionally abused survivors state that one of the biggest problems they face is that others seldom take it seriously. These questions will help you identify if you are being emotionally abused, and provide some ideas on available support and resources.

What Is Your Relationship Like?

  • Do you feel that something is wrong with your relationship, but you don’t know how to describe it?
  • Do you feel that your partner controls your life?
  • Do you feel that your partner does not value your thoughts or feelings?
  • Will your partner do anything to win an argument, such as put you down, threaten or intimidate you?
  • Does your partner get angry and jealous if you talk to someone else? Are you accused of having affairs?
  • Do you feel that you cannot do anything right in your partner’s eyes?
  • Are you told that no one else would want you, or that you are lucky your partner takes care of you?
  • Do you have to account for every moment of your time?
  • When you try to talk to your partner about problems, are you called names such as bitch or nag?
  • Does your partner prevent you from going to work or school, or from learning English?
  • If you wish to spend money, does your partner make you account for every penny, or say you don’t deserve anything?
  • Does your partner threaten to withdraw your sponsorship or send you back to your country of origin?
  • After an argument, does your partner insist that you have sex as a way to make up?
  • Does your partner use the children against you in arguments? Does your partner threaten that you will never see the children again if you leave?
  • Does your partner blame you for everything that goes wrong?

Things To Consider:

  • Know that you are not to blame for your partner’s abusive behavior.
  • Recognize that you have the right to make your own decisions, in your own time, and that dealing with any form of abuse may take time.
  • Recognize that emotional abuse should be taken seriously.
  • Know that emotional abuse can escalate to physical violence.
  • Find people to talk to that can support you. Consider getting individual counseling from professionals who are trained about abusive relationships and will hold your partner responsible for the abuse you are experiencing.
  • Do not give up if community professionals are not helpful. Keep looking for someone that will listen to you and take emotional abuse seriously.
  • Trust yourself and your own experiences. Believe in your own strengths. Remember that you are your own best source of knowledge and strength.

What Resources Are Available?

  • Call a help line: Toll Free Phone: 800-799-7233 / 800-799-SAFE
  • Shelters do accept women who are emotionally abused and have not been physically abused. Go here for a list of Bay Area shelters, or ask the help line for shelters near you. If you are a person with a disability, ask where there is an accessible shelter in your area.
  • If you have been threatened with harm or death, or are being stalked (followed and harassed) by your partner or ex-partner, you can call the police. Dial 911, or if you are in a rural area, find out the emergency number.
  • Plan for your safety if you are considering leaving your relationship, because sometimes leaving can increase your risk of harm. You can find resources to help you create a safety plan here.
  • If you have children, consider some of these Legal Resources.

Please also see the Impact of Verbal and Emotional Abuse.

Return to Types of Abuse.

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