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Emotional Abuse: Here's what you need to know

Emotional abuse is when someone constantly puts you down and threatens, teases, bullies, humiliates or intimidates you.

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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Emotional abuse can damage your self-esteem or make you feel worthless or unloved. It can be very frightening and can affect you long after the abuse has stopped happening.

It happens when someone constantly threatens, teases, bullies, humiliates, intimidates, calls you worthless or betrays you. 

What are examples of emotional abuse?

The following all count as emotional abuse:

  • Someone always telling you that you’re worthless, stupid, or you’re not going anywhere in life. The criticism could come from a parent, family member, boss, teacher or someone your own age.
  • If you’re threatened with violence or someone makes you feel frightened by what they say.
  • Constant put downs about what you wear, your looks or what you do, even if they’re said as a joke.
  • Very jealous and controlling behaviour, when someone tries to influence who you speak to, what you wear or who your friends are.
  • Twisting the truth to make you feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault.
  • If someone tries to control you, and this control begins to have an impact on your day-to-day life or causes you fear.

What can I do if I'm being emotionally abused?

  • Know that this is not your fault. Recognise that this behaviour is emotional abuse, and that it is unfair and unjustified.
  • Don't believe what the abuser says of you.
  • Talk to someone you trust about what's going on. Even after the abuse has stopped you might have emotional or self-confidence problems. Visit a counsellor who can help you to work through your feelings.
  • If you're not ready to speak to someone you know,’s text message support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We provide in-the-moment anonymous support and problem solving when you need it most. Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to begin. Standard SMS rates may apply.
  • If you are living with someone who is abusing you and you need to get out, there are places you can turn to for help. You can contact SAFE Ireland (women) and AMEN (men) for help.
  • Telling someone you’re being abused by a family member doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be taken away from your family, the social services will try to work out a situation that means you're safe from abuse but where possible with your family.​

Sometimes emotional abuse can lead to physical abuse or domestic violence. In these situations it is important to realise that it is not your fault – regardless of what your abuser may tell you. If you find yourself in this situation here are few things you can do.

Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?

If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.

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Published Jan­u­ary 14th2013
Tags emotional abuse abuse
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