Signs of Verbal and Emotional Abuse

Do you wonder if your relationship may be abusive? Ask yourself the questions below. If you answer ‘yes’ to more than a few, you may want to take a closer look:

Does your partner:

bbullet ignore your feelings?
bullet disrespect you?
bullet ridicule or insult you then tell you its a joke, or that you have no sense of humor?
bullet ridicule your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class?
bullet withhold approval, appreciation or affection?
bullet give you the silent treatment?
bullet walk away without answering you?
bullet criticize you, call you names, yell at you?
bullet humiliate you privately or in public?
bullet roll his or her eyes when you talk?
bullet give you a hard time about socializing with your friends or family?
bullet make you socialize (and keep up appearances) even when you don’t feel well?
bullet seem to make sure that what you really want is exactly what you won’t get?
bullet tell you you are too sensitive?
bullet hurt you especially when you are down?
bullet seem energized by fighting, while fighting exhausts you?
bullet have unpredictable mood swings, alternating from good to bad for no apparent reason?
bullet present a wonderful face to the world and is well liked by outsiders?
bullet “twist” your words, somehow turning what you said against you?
bullet try to control decisions, money, even the way you style your hair or wear your clothes?
bullet complain about how badly you treat him or her?             
bullet threaten to leave, or threaten to throw you out?
bullet say things that make you feel good, but do things that make you feel bad?
bullet ever left you stranded?
bullet ever threaten to hurt you or your family?
bullet ever hit or pushed you, even “accidentally”?
bullet seem to stir up trouble just when you seem to be getting closer to each other?
bullet abuse something you love: a pet, a child, an object?
bullet compliment you enough to keep you happy, yet criticize you enough to keep you insecure?
bullet promise to never do something hurtful again?
bullet harass you about imagined affairs?
bullet manipulate you with lies and contradictions?
bullet destroy furniture, punch holes in walls, break appliances?
bullet drive like a  road-rage junkie?
bullet act immature and selfish, yet accuse you of those behaviors?
bullet question your every move and motive, somehow questioning your competence?
bullet interrupt you; hear but not really listen?            
bullet make you feel like you can’t win? damned if you do, damned if you don’t?
bullet use drugs and/or alcohol involved? are things worse then?
bullet incite you to rage, which is “proof” that you are to blame?
bullet try to convince you he or she is “right,” while you are “wrong?”
bullet frequently say things that are later denied or accuse you of misunderstanding?
bullet treat you like a sex object, or as though sex should be provided on demand regardless of how you feel?


Your situation is critical if the following applies to you:

bullet You express your opinions less and less freely.
bullet You find yourself walking on eggshells, careful of when and how to say something.
bullet You long for that softer, more vulnerable part of your partner to emerge.
bullet You find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior?
bullet You feel emotionally unsafe.
bullet You feel its somehow not OK to talk with others about your relationship.
bullet You hope things will change…especially through your love and understanding.
bullet You find yourself doubting your memory or sense of reality.
bullet You doubt your own judgment.
bullet You doubt your abilities.
bullet You feel vulnerable and insecure.
bullet You are becoming increasingly depressed.
bullet You feel increasingly trapped and powerless.
bullet You have been or are afraid of your partner.
bullet Your partner has physically hurt you, even once.

If you feel your relationship may be verbally and emotionally abusive, talk to people you trust. Talk to clergy, call your local battered women’s shelter, educate yourself, seek professional help. Do not allow verbal and emotional abuse to escalate to battery!


Courtesy of Irene Matiatos, Ph.D.copyrite.gif (84 bytes)1998-2001 The material on this website may be distributed freely for non-commercial or educational purposes provided that author credit is given. For commercial distribution, please contact the author at


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