Emotional abuse in relationships: Signs and solutions

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Emotional and psychologically abusive behaviour can have a significant impact on the mental and physical health of a victim. It can be quite difficult to spot the signs of emotional abuse, which is what makes it so dangerous.

Emotional abuse is a pattern of behaviour that involves the use of words, actions, or inactions that are intended to control, manipulate, or harm another person’s emotional well-being. Emotional abuse can happen in any kind of relationship, including romantic relationships and relationships between family and friends.

Emotional abuse is most commonly experienced in romantic relationships. Below, we have listed the most common emotional abuse in relationships signs.

Emotional abuse in relationships signs

Some common signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Constant criticism or belittling: This type of abusive behaviour could be in the form of insults, put-downs, or other negative comments. This type of behaviour is intended to make the other person feel small or worthless.
  • Gaslighting: This is a form of manipulation in which the abuser denies the reality of the victim’s experiences or feelings, causing them to doubt themselves.
  • Controlling behaviour: The abuser may try to control what the victim wears, who they see, where they go, and what they do. They may not allow victims to spend time with certain family members and friends in an attempt to maintain power and control over the victim. Some may monitor their partner’s use of social media and other forms of communication.
  • Emotional blackmail: This could be in the form of threatening to leave the relationship, harming themselves, or other extreme measures if the victim doesn’t comply with their demands. Many victims of this type of abuse may feel like they are constantly “walking on eggshells.”
  • Isolation: The abuser may try to isolate the victim from friends and family members, making it harder for the victim to leave the relationship or get help.
  • Withholding affection or attention: An abuser may give their victim the silent treatment, refuse to engage with them emotionally, or withhold physical affection as a way to punish or control them.
  • Blaming: The abuser may blame the victim for their own behavior, making the victim feel guilty or responsible for the abuse.

It’s important to note that emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse and can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional abuse, it’s important to seek help and support from a trusted friend, family member, or professional.

What should you do if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship?

If you find yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s important to take action to protect yourself and seek help. Listed below are some steps you can take:

  • Recognise that the behaviour is not okay: The first step you should take when you find yourself in this type of relationship is to acknowledge that the behaviour is not acceptable. You should also recognise that that it is not your fault. No one deserves to be emotionally abused, and it is not a reflection of your worth as a person.
  • Set boundaries: If possible, set boundaries with the abuser and make it clear that their behaviour is unacceptable. This may involve limiting contact, refusing to engage in arguments, or leaving the situation altogether.
  • Seek support: It’s important to reach out to trusted friends or family members for support and to talk about what’s going on. Consider seeking the help of a therapist or counsellor who can provide additional support and guidance.
  • Develop a safety plan: If the situation is particularly dangerous, develop a safety plan to protect yourself. Your plan should include where to go if you need to leave quickly, emergency phone numbers, and consider involving the police if necessary.
  • Leave the relationship: If the abuse continues, despite setting boundaries and seeking help, it may be necessary to leave the relationship.

Remember, it’s not easy to leave an abusive relationship, and it’s important to seek help and support from trusted sources to ensure your safety and well-being.

Emotional abuse and the law

Emotional abuse is a form of domestic abuse, and therefore, it is a criminal offence. There are several legal remedies available to protect victims of emotional abuse. Below are some ways in which the law can protect victims of this type of abuse:

  • Domestic abuse protection orders: A domestic abuse protection order is a legal order that can be obtained through the court to protect someone from domestic abuse, including emotional abuse. It can require the abuser to stay away from the victim, stop contacting them, and refrain from engaging in certain behaviours.
  • Non-molestation orders: A non-molestation order is a court order that prohibits the abuser from harassing or intimidating the victim. It can also prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim or coming within a certain distance of them.
  • Occupation orders: An occupation order is a court order that can remove the abuser from the home, or prevent them from entering the victim’s home. This can provide the victim with a safe space and prevent further emotional abuse from occurring.
  • Criminal charges: Emotional abuse that amounts to behaviour that is intimidating, controlling, or coercive can be a criminal offense under English law. The abuser can be charged and prosecuted for this offense, which can result in a criminal record and possible imprisonment.
  • Family law remedies: If you are married to your abuser, you may wish to consider divorce. In family law cases, such as divorce or custody disputes, the court can take into account evidence of emotional abuse and use it to make decisions. These decisions may be in relation to custody arrangements or other orders to protect the victim.

It’s important to note that each case is unique, and the appropriate legal remedy will depend on the specific circumstances. If you are a victim of emotional abuse and need legal advice, you should seek the help of a solicitor or domestic abuse support organisation.

How can Expert Family Law’s panel of domestic abuse solicitors help?

Expert Family Law’s panel of solicitors understand emotional abuse in relationships signs. Our panel of domestic abuse solicitors will ensure you get the best advice and will ensure you are made safe from your abuser as soon as possible.

We can assist by obtaining the right court order or injunction as well as assisting in divorce, child arrangements and ancillary relief.

We understand that being a victim of domestic abuse can be extremely distressing. We ensure that the domestic abuse solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a family law solicitor from our panel could help on your case.


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