It can be difficult to recognise emotional abuse as it can be insidious. Often, relationships begin with the perpetrator being very charming and attentive and the emotional abuse creeps in gradually over time. For example, they may show a particular interest in the way you dress, and compliment certain clothes to encourage you to dress the way they like, but these compliments may turn into digs and outright insults if you don’t comply. They may make up for this with gifts or apologies but then go on to do the same thing again. They may also disguise their controlling behaviour as romantic gestures making it harder for you to make sense of what is happening.
Here are some other examples of emotional abuse:
- Blaming you for their behaviour
- Criticising you or calling you names
- Embarrassing or humiliating you
- Making you feel guilty
- Controlling how you dress
- Isolating you from friends and family
- Dismissing your opinions or feelings
- Twisting facts and distorting reality
- Extreme jealousy
- Monitoring and controlling you
Persistent emotional abuse is a serious offence of coercive or controlling behaviour under The Serious Crime Act 2015.
Many people who experience emotional abuse do not think that their partner could ever become violent, but irrespective of whether there is physical violence or not emotional abuse can cause long term psychological damage, including low self esteem and depression.
If you are concerned about your relationship, IDAS can offer advice and support.
Listen to the IDAS Voices podcast with Rebecca Beattie as she talks about her experience of emotional abuse and her recent Pride of Britain award. (Interview starts at 38 seconds).
00.00 - When did you first know something wasn't right with the relationship?
01.34 - Financial abuse and coercive control
04.06 - What was the turning point for you?
05.24 - Leaving the relationship
07.38 - Court, housing, visa issues
09.15 - What was the most useful part of the support you received?
10.25 - What's your message to other victims?