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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is emotional abuse?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Pamela Hoy

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist

    Offering both Hypnotherapy and Counselling for my clients is a double opportunity to change unwanted feelings, thoughts, behaviours and reactions. Accessing both the conscious and … View Profile

    Emotional abuse may take several forms, in a personal relationship it could be     * Verbal, where a person is constantly belittled privately and/or in public.  Being told they are not good enough, they should be grateful that the abuser puts up with them because nobody else would.  That they are stupid or ugly, they are not worthwhile etc. what ever degrading verbal messages are said.   *Being seperated from family and/or friends so the person becomes totally dependent on the abuser.        *Threatening harm to them or someone they love if they do not comply.   * Financially controlling all money.   * Sexual demands with consequence if they do not participate.  The person often feels trapped and  too frightened to defend themselves by gaining help, or to leave. However there is help from many different sources, such as counselling. If the abuser is not willing to attend, the person being abused can explore their options and also learn some coping strategies.  To gain legal advice may be helpful, and this could be sought through legal aid if money is unavailable or with a private solicitor.  To reach out to family, or friends, your religious leader or self help groups.

    In the work environment, emotional abuse may be * Demanding more time and/or better results from a person than from others.     * Making unwelcomed advances.    *Threatening dismissal or some other form of discompensation if they do not comply with demands.   *Not being offered  the same opportunities as other team members when all credentials are equal.  Emotional abuse occurs when the level of equality is not present.   The person being emotionally abused may feel it is not possible to prove any abuse and/or that they need the job, therefore putting up with it.  It may be helpful to document any experiences of this type of abuse.  You may choose to take action  available to you.

  • 1


    Dianne Zebic

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist

    Dianne Zebic has retired as of 31/01/2015 View Profile

    I feel Pamela has given a very well indication what ‘Emotional Abuse’ in her response.

    However a few other things I wanted to write here about ‘Emotional Abuse’, is where one person would constantly criticise and put the other person down, in order for the abuser to feel good about themselves. Emotional abuse affects dramatically a persons self esteem, and many victims of emotional abuse have very low levels of self esteem as it detroys the victims self worth, their identity and their dignity as a human being.

    Emotional abuse tends to leave far more scars than physical abuse, and emotional put downs affect the person psychologically as they are led to believe by their perpetrator that it;s all their fault and this then leads to the victims feeling guilty and responsible for all the touble. In the end the emotional abuser gets what they want which is ‘Power & Control’. This Power & Control is seen especially in Domestic Violence situations, as one person wants to gain total control over the other so they use ‘Emotional Abuse’ tactics to brainwash the other person to make them feel guilty so the abuse can get away with it.

    Emotional Abuse is also known as Emotional Blackmail, and the victims usually are very vulnerable when they are being emotionally abused, as most would not be able to identify this. The emotional abusers main agenda is to control the other person emotionally so they could get things their way without giving any regard how the victim will end up feeling. Abusers have no empathy or compassion towards their victims as the perpertrators are driven usually by either envy or jealousy to torment emotionally others around them for them to reach their goals.

    Some forms of emotional abuse can occur in relationships, where one partner will constantly blame their partner for everything, and this makes the victim feel responsible, and this is where emotional abuse then tends to control the victims and causing them anxiety and shame or guilt.

    Other forms of emotional abuse can occur in the work place or its known as workplace bullying, where workers are put down or constantly belittled by other co-workers, and even when the victims are socially excluded from any social events eg. all workers going for lunch and then ignoring and avoiding to socialise with the other co-worker deliberately) this is a form of emotional abuse, when people are acting in a very rejecting and anti-social behaviour. 

    School bullying is also a form of ‘Emotional Abuse’, where other students may socially isolate another student  from others, calling kids bad names, making fun and ridiculing others, pretending they dont exist and ignoring others, name calling and swearing and intimidation.

    Generally Emotional Abuse is hurting the other persons feeling without having any empathy how the other person is going to feel.

    For people to avoid ‘Emotional Abuse’, they need to be assertive more and tell the abuser', eg.
    'I feel I didn't like the way how you just spoke to me right then, could you please tell me why do you feel this way about me"?

    It is good to seek help from a counsellor or psychologist which specialises in ‘Abuse Counselling’, as they could assess your situation if you feel you are being ‘Emotionally Abused’.

    Remember, please don't suffer in silence, go and tell someone today.

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