5 signs you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship

If you’re in a relationship and things aren’t sitting right with you, really have a think about it. If you’re being emotionally abused you can often be so far in you don’t spot the signs. Try to take a step back and consider these potential signifiers of emotional abuse.


Stay true to yourself and be confident in your memory. Abusers will deny and deny and deny ANYTHING that doesn’t fit their version of reality. If you feel like your own grip on reality is slipping when your abuser rejects your telling of events and substitutes it with their own, this is called gaslighting, and is a tactic often used by abusers to control and confuse their victims.

Criticism & Control

If you feel like everything you do is overly-criticised this can also be a sign of emotional abuse. If everything from your singing in the shower, to your outfit, to your latest essay, to your taste in music is being degraded – often without you asking for your partner’s opinion – it is possible that you’re in a relationship with an abuser.

Both men and women can be the perpetrators of control on their signification others. There are controlling girlfriends out there, men who deceive women into liking them, and those who seek to physically harm their partners.


If your partner threatens to hurt themselves or even hurt you, this definitely constitutes emotional abuse. Emotionally blackmailing you or scaring you into behaving how they want you to behave is typical of abuser behaviour.


If your achievements are downplayed – often followed with your partner explaining how they are superior/how they have achieved something better – then again it is possible you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. Abusers love to make their victims feel small and insignificant and cast themselves as gods, so keep an eye out for this toxic attitude.


Abusers will restrict your contact with friends and family and try and may try to cut you off from them altogether. Abusers love feeling powerful and will quickly become jealous of anyone who tries to take your attention and affection off of them. Listen to your friends – if they think you seem distant and spend too much time with your partner, don’t lash out, try to consider the situation from a more removed perspective.

What to do

If you think you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, it will always be more complicated than a matter of upping and leaving. If you’re struggling, it’s best to talk to a professional, and there are great charities like Mind and the Samaritans who can hopefully help. You can also always seek help at your university’s mental health or Student Support services, or even your GP. Just don’t go through it alone.

Serena Smith

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