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Emotional abuse

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    Emotional abuse is when words and aggressive behaviour are used to intimidate you and limit your life. It can make you feel afraid, powerless and worthless.

    Examples of emotional abuse:


    Intimidation is when the person you’re with threatens to harm you or themselves if you act in a certain way, for example if you leave. Threats can be used to put pressure on you to do things you don’t want to do.

    Saying they will spread sexual or private images or that they will take their own life if the relationship ends is a common threat. A threat can also be directed at someone who means a lot to you, such as a member of your family or a pet. If you are LGBTQI+ but haven’t yet come out your partner may threaten to out you. If you have a controlling family with strong beliefs and/or a strong honour base your partner may threaten to tell them things about you that they know your family won’t accept. Intimidation is about controlling and scaring someone. Changing the way you live because of the threats is often a strategy used to protect yourself and those close to you, and can lead to you becoming more and more limited in the way you live your life.

    If your partner is making threats you may need support and help to leave them. We are here for you, we will listen and we believe you.


    Does the person you’re with always want to know what you’re doing? Do they check your phone and social media or have opinions about what you share with other people? Does it feel as though they see your friends as a threat to your relationship? Do they want to control what clothes you wear, your style or what you do in your free time?

    All this is controlling behaviour. In the end they may forbid certain things in your life. You may become increasingly isolated as a way to avoid suspicion, accusations and jealousy. Our society, through films, TV series and music, often portrays jealousy as a sign of interest and love. There is also a belief that you should share everything with the person you love. But you have the right to keep things to yourself, like the passwords for your email and social media accounts. It is never acceptable for someone you are with to isolate you or limit your freedom.

    Manipulation and degrading language

    It is common for the abuser to make derogatory and insulting comments. They may do this when it is just the two of you or so that other people can hear, for example they might say that you are ugly, worthless or something else hurtful. Saying things to diminish you, such as that you are sensitive, childish or over-reacting is also common. They may say that it’s all your fault, that you’ve only yourself to blame for the abuse.

    Hearing things like this from the person you’re in a relationship with can make you feel insecure and ashamed. Making your partner feel like that is the opposite of love and respect. It is never your fault that you are subjected to abuse.