Often physical, emotional, and verbal abuse go hand in hand. People that come from abusive homes often attract others who come from similar backgrounds. They often recreate the same environment in their home with their children that they experienced in their homes with their parents when they were children.
Negative words impact people in many different ways. They damage you psychologically, words stay with you far longer than the bruises inflicted on you by an abuser. Bruises fade while words stay with you.
Emotional and verbal abuse is used to control someone’s behavior and isolate or manipulate them so they can control that person..
What is physical abuse? What is domestic violence?
Physical abuse and domestic violence are two terms for the same thing: a physical force that hurts someone in our household, family, or in a relationship with us. Here’s what is considered domestic violence:
- Pushing or shoving
- Grabbing to restrict movement (stopping a partner from leaving, for example)
- Hitting with a fist or object
- Beating up (striking more than once)
- Using a knife or gun
There’s a progression of violence from top to bottom, but an answer of ‘yes’ to any of these is considered domestic violence and battery. Threatening any of these, even if they are not carried out, is considered domestic violence and assault. See our page on domestic violence laws for more on assault and battery.
What is emotional abuse?
Can abuse occur if no one is touched? Yes. Examples of emotional abuse are:
- Controlling your partner’s time, space, money, thoughts, or choices such as what they wear
- Monitoring where your partner goes or what they spend money on
- Isolating your partner by not letting them see or talk to others
- Making all of the decisions without your partner’s input or consideration of their needs
- Accusing your partner of flirting, having an affair, or being unfaithful when there is little or no evidence they have done so
- Getting angry or resentful when your partner is successful in a job or hobby
- Intimidating your partner by making them afraid, including breaking things, punching walls, slamming doors, or throwing objects
- Threatening to hurt your partner, their children, their pets, or damage their property, even if you don’t follow through on the threat
- Threatening to hurt yourself, especially when things are not going your way
- Threatening to leave or divorce your partner
- Demeaning your partner with frequent put-downs, name-calling, blame, or humiliation
- Saying things that are designed to make your partner feel “crazy” or “stupid”
- Always being right, never apologizing
- Punishing your partner by refusing to talk to them or by withholding affection
- Withholding essential resources like food or money
- Frequent mood swings, where one moment you are loving and affectionate, and the next moment you’re angry and threatening
- Frequently and quickly escalating into rage, where you just snap and lose it
- Blaming others for your behavior, especially your parents, partner, or children
- Blaming alcohol, drugs, stress, or other life events for your behavior
- Using sex, money, privileges, or other favors as a way to “make up” after conflict in order to stop feeling guilty
- Acting like your behavior is no big deal, denying the behavior, or telling your partner it’s their fault
- Attempting to force your partner to keep quiet about your behavior or drop criminal charges
You may be thinking, “So if I’m upset and don’t talk to my spouse for an afternoon, or I slip up and call him or her a name in the heat of an argument, that’s abuse?” While neither of these actions are ever good, they are not necessarily abuse. In reality, we all do some of these things sometimes. They become abusive when they are repeated frequently.
This constant negativity stays with you until you seek help and sometimes even though you work on yourself to turn things around the low self-esteem is so ingrained that no matter how much work you do on yourself you never overcome those feelings of self-doubt.