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How do you recognize emotional and psychological abuse?

It’s easy to recognize domestic violence when the abuse is physical. If your spouse has ever harmed you or your children, you know that he or she is abusive. It can be hard to leave an abuser, whether the abuse is physical or emotional. However, it may be even more difficult for Texas residents to recognize the latter type of abuse.

Psychological and emotional abuse is often subtle, explains PsychCentral. The goal of an emotional abuser is much the same as a physical one – your abuser uses tactics to intimidate and control you. The following signs are common behaviors of emotional and psychological abusers:

  • Making threats or ultimatums to keep you afraid of what might happen if you defy him or her
  • Periodically using gifts and positive behavior to emotionally manipulate you into second-guessing your instincts
  • Giving the silent treatment or withholding affection
  • Having no respect for your privacy regarding social media, test messages, voicemail and emails
  • Damaging your personal property, especially items that mean a lot to you
  • Blaming you for everything and taking no responsibility or apologizing
  • Isolating you from your family and friends and controlling your resources

There is usually a cycle of violence to abuse, including emotional violence. Your spouse may push you to the limit, then switch behaviors and become kind and loving for a while until you let your guard down. After that, the abuse begins to escalate again, keeping you in a perpetual cycle of hope that things are getting better, fear of upsetting your spouse and confusion over whether you are really being abused.

The subtle nature of emotional abuse can make it difficult to get help and leave. However, you should find allies when you seek help from victims’ advocates, counselors and experienced legal counsel.

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