Psychological or emotional abuse involves non-physical acts, threats of physical acts, verbal abuse and coercive behaviours to terrorise, bully, shame, confuse control the victim. Unlike coercive control, psychological abuse serves to, first and foremost, manipulate the victim’s emotions, leaving them with diminished self-esteem, a lack of independence, and, at worst, mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and PTSD.
Such abuse characteristically involves subjecting the victim to a consistent, and trauma-inducing, onslaught of these attacks. It can be overt, or otherwise insidious and hard to detect. Abusers may denigrate their victim publicly to cause embarrassment - for example, by mocking their sexual performance online to Facebook friends or to work colleagues at events. However, the abuse may be confined to the couple’s private lives, with hurtful comments, explosive rants or gaslighting behaviours taking place behind closed doors. Very often, more subtle forms of psychological abuse are increasingly detrimental to the victim, with periodic and underhand comments often going undetected, yet still serving to chip away at the victim’s self-esteem and causing them, eventually, to question their reality.
Gaslighting behaviours, like denying abuse, withholding affection, giving silent treatment
Insulting, bullying or belittling the victim in public and/or private
Mocking, embarrassing or shaming the victim
Manipulating the victim’s anxieties, deliberately targeting or worsening certain insecurities
Manipulating the victim’s beliefs, causing them to question their reality
Stopping the victim from visiting friends and family
Turning others, including friends and family, against the victim
Stalking the victim online and offline
Verbally intimidating and threatening the victim
Ridiculing the victim’s beliefs and insecurities
Constantly criticising the victim
Frequently shouting at the victim
If you are suffering psychological and emotional abuse of any kind, it is vital that you get help as quickly as possible. Please contact our specialist team who can support you and explain the options and protections that are available. Please call 999 if you are in imminent danger. In circumstances where calling the emergency services may inflame the situation, you can press 55 once you have dialled 999 and the emergency services will go to the address from where you have called without you having to say anything.