Is your relationship, an emotionally abusive one?

Look out for these signs to know if you are in an emotionally damaging relationship at home or at work, says psychologist Inchara Shivaraam

By: Inchara Shivaraam

Emotionally abusive relationships are hard to recognize. As there is no physical violence, most times people who are in such relationships dismiss their situation or don’t give it as much importance, because they are not threatened by a physical attack or abuse.  
But such toxic relationships can cause serious damage and affect a person’s well-being. They are also dangerous because the victim is often convinced that the abusive behavior patterns are normal forms of a relationship.
Why do people emotionally abuse?
Emotional abusers have a need to control and manipulate the other person, and quite often it occurs because the abuser has childhood wounds and insecurities they haven't dealt with, perhaps as a result of being emotionally abused themselves.
Such abusers often haven’t learnt healthy coping mechanisms or how to have positive, healthy relationships. Instead, they feel angry, hurt, fearful and powerless.
Although emotional abuse doesn't always lead to physical abuse, physical abuse is almost always preceded and accompanied by emotional abuse.
The victim of emotionally abusive behavior quite often doesn't see the mistreatment as abusive. They develop coping mechanisms of denial and minimizing in order to deal with the stress.But the long-term effects can cause severe emotional trauma in the victim.

Emotional abuse is seen across different relationships like parent-child, couples, workplace and other social set up.
Manipulative parent child relationship:

The key part of emotional abuse is that it's usually a pattern. One of the situations where a parent snaps or is rude to their offspring are not characteristic of an emotionally abusive environment. People aren't perfect. But repetitive insults and putdowns can turn into emotional abuse. “Parents have explicit ways of emotionally abusing their children such as desertion or speaking hurtful words that break their hearts, cast blame, and make them lose their self-worth,” says relationship and childhood counselor Shannon Battle. Examples of abusive phrases, Battle says, are “I wish you weren't born”, “I wish you were more like your sister”, or “You are a lost cause.”

Children of these kinds of emotionally manipulative parents are expected to constantly pander to their emotional needs and will be punished if they show emotional self-sufficiency, or make the parent “look bad”.

Narcissistic parents often view their children as accessories to impress others, and will manipulate their emotions in order to produce a good impression in public. They're particularly prone, as psychotherapist Amanda Perl writes for Counseling Directory, to the practice of "gas lighting," in which they deny the child's emotional reality and make them question their sanity.

Among couples or romantic relationships:

An abuser might threaten to expose you in a way you find embarrassing, or they may threaten to take something important away from you, such as money, your home, or even your own kids or even to leave you if they don’t get their way.
By this way they are not only threatening you but manipulating and convincing you to believe that there is something so wrong with you that you should feel ashamed of. One of the main characteristics of emotional abusers are unwillingness of taking responsibilities for anything, Instead, they prefer to blame you, saying things like, “If you just hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had to act that way in response.”
An abusive partner may break or “lose” something they know is meaningful to you as a way to punish you and remind me you of the power they hold over you.
At workplace:

At work, emotional abuse can be just as obvious or profound as it is at home. The people, who are abusive at home, can be the same persons abusive at work. Abuse can occur at the supervisor-subordinate level, or among co-workers. It comes in the forms of acts or verbal comments that create emotional pain or isolation. If the acts or comments are repetitive, intimidating, and are designed to humiliate or degrade, then it is clearly defined as bullying.

Some broad examples of abuse in the workplace by a supervisor towards a subordinate and among co workers include:
1. Intentionally excluding subordinates from benefits, activities, or opportunities.
2. Deliberately impeding or sabotaging the work product of a subordinate (such as setting impossible work deadlines, withholding critical information, not providing enough work so as to create a sense of uselessness).
3. Removing responsibilities or changing work habits in an attempt to coerce resignation.
4. Creating or allowing a hostile work environment.
Emotional and verbal abuse can have short-term and long-lasting effects that are just as serious as the effects of physical abuse. If you think you have been experiencing these do not push these aside by enduring them, instead seek help of a friend, family member or a therapist. Get in touch with us at if you think you need help with a damaging relationship.

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