Don’t Fall For The Trap: Identifying Emotional Abuse Before It Happens

Identifying Emotional Abuse: 6 Signs Of Emotional Abuse

Identifying emotional abuse before it happens is key to breaking the cycle. Don’t let toxic behaviors go unnoticed – take note of the six signs!

It takes courage to speak up about domestic violence, yet many suffer in silence. From the hairdresser whose husband nearly choked her to death, to the friend of a friend who endured years of threats from her boyfriend, millions of people live with this insidious danger every day. 

That’s why I’m sharing my story because silence only perpetuates the violence. We need to talk, demand better and learn how to identify emotional abuse in a relationship.

I’m passionate about my bike, it’s my ultimate joy. But when I met a boy who shared my passion, I fell fast and hard. The problem was, I ignored the red flags, convinced that I could change him. 

I lied to myself, my standards dropped lower, and my life became a living hell. But my bike, my loyal friend, refused to let me suffer in silence. It took a hard fall for me to wake up and see the truth.

I endured hospitalization, a wired jaw, and unimaginable trauma, but it was the emotional abuse that kept me away from him forever. Now, I know what love is not, and the abusive behaviors that go with it.

So how to identify emotional abuse in a relationship or any relationship, be it romantic or platonic?

Identifying Emotional Abuse Before It Happens

1. Regularly hanging out, right from the start

Intense togetherness can be a tricky sign of identifying emotional abuse, and here’s why. In our fast-paced world, we’re used to instant gratification in all aspects of life, including relationships. Hookup culture is the norm, and anything else seems old-fashioned.

Abusers, initially charming and complimentary, take advantage of this mindset. They make their partners believe that constant togetherness is necessary for sincerity. During this intense phase, they established a dependency where I relied on their opinions and habits to validate my worth as a partner.

They also pushed for significant commitments like moving in or sharing finances. The fast pace made it easy to go along, but it was all a ploy to control my actions and limit my options when the abuse began. I felt guilty whenever I expressed hesitation about the speed of things.

2. Creation of isolation.

If you’re wondering how to identify emotional abuse, well, most abusers thrive on maintaining power imbalances, often resorting to isolating their partners in various ways.

This includes threats of loneliness if you dare to leave, manipulating your perception of friends and family, and chastising you for seeking support.

When you try to leave them, they may try to manipulate and guilt-trip you into staying, claiming that you won’t find anyone better or that you’re making a huge mistake. They might play the victim and make you feel responsible for their well-being, trying to instill fear and doubt in your mind.

3. Extreme jealousy

At the beginning of our relationship, I mistook my partner’s jealousy for exclusivity, believing it was a sign of their strong feelings for me. However, I failed to recognize that this jealousy stemmed from deep-seated insecurity.

Over time, toxic habits became the norm, including intrusive behaviors like checking my phone daily, demanding details about encounters with other men, and controlling what I wore.

My partner would constantly invent stories about me cheating, leading to fits of rage over insignificant interactions from my past. In public, he would yell at me, assuming I was involved with someone based on minimal evidence.

Read : The Toxic Attraction Between An Empath And A Narcissist

4. Disregard your belongings, ambitions, and goals

Abusers disregard your property, aspirations, and values. They view you as an extension of themselves, ignoring your individuality and rights.

Boundaries become blurry in such relationships when the abuser accuses their partner of sneaking off to meet someone when they attend a meeting alone or using their partner’s car despite being asked not to.

Kind words about their partner’s career choices can turn cold when the relationship ends, and owed money is often disregarded.

5. Self-victimization

One of the signs of emotional abuse is that abusers often deny their abusive behavior by portraying themselves as victims. They attribute their actions to others and refuse to take responsibility.

Consequently, they consistently blame their exes, family members, and friends, while considering themselves faultless. In my experience, my abuser constantly blamed me during conflicts, refusing to apologize while expecting apologies from me.

Read: 5 Things A Narcissist Says To Make You Feel Crazy

6. Uninterested in self-help

Abusers prey on empathetic individuals and those with a savior complex. They manipulate their partners into believing they are the only ones who truly understand them, allowing their partners to try and “fix” them.

Towards the end of the relationship, abusers may use this dynamic as a threat to make their partners stay, claiming they should always be there for them. In my situation, I suggested anger management for my partner, offering to go with him and even pay for it.

However, he refused, revealing the distinction between someone genuinely seeking help and a true abuser who prefers to find a new victim.

This list is far from complete, merely scratching the surface of the intricate web and cycle of abuse. It becomes even more convoluted when intertwined with factors like substance abuse, family history, and mental illness – all present in my past relationship.

But let’s not dwell on that. I’m here to shed light on the telltale signs of emotional abuse, a topic often overlooked because it lacks the visible scars of physical abuse. Now, I won’t claim to be perfect or deny that I may have exhibited qualities that enabled the abuse at times.

Helping someone improve can be gratifying, but I’ve learned that uplifting must be mutual in any relationship. Anything less is a one-way ticket to self-worth destruction, depleting your own energy for others until there’s nothing left for yourself.

Emotional abuse can sneak up on you, disguised as love and adoration. But it’s a slow poison that can leave you doubting yourself and deplete your energy.

Don’t be fooled by fleeting good times; recognize the bad and leave. For me, cycling was the key to replacing those good feelings. Remember, if someone or something is bringing you down, flush it and wipe it away.

Read: 6 Signs You’re Arguing With A Psychopath

Identifying Emotional Abuse before it Happens
How To Identify Emotional Abuse In A Relationship: Learning The Cycle Of Abuse
Identifying Emotional Abuse before it Happens.
Identifying Emotional Abuse: 6 Signs Of Emotional Abuse

— About the Author —


  1. J B Avatar
    J B

    I see why you say, “Don’t ask me why I stayed”. Most people who ask that have never lived through it and they don’t understand. The worst is when you get it from your family – and then when the shit hits the fan, you’re left with a lot of “I told ya so’s”.

    I was here too. My relationship only lasted 7 months – he worked fast. But it was long enough for him to do a lot of damage…both to me and my life, and to my relationship with my son (not his – we didn’t have children together). Mine ended up being a narcissistic sociopath, mixed in with a drug addict who simply refused to do the work that needed to be done in order to recover.

    The sad part about all of this is that it didn’t start to make sense until the relationship was over, I had kicked him out, and ended up becoming friends with someone from HIS past. The more she and I spoke, the more I was internally kicking myself and saying, “how could I have been so stupid!” and “I wish I’d known” because frankly I would have dropped him before the relationship even began.

    He put his hands on me a couple of times and it was a year ago yesterday. He also threatened to harm my child – which should have been the final straw…but even through that I tried to make things “fair” for everyone by explaining away and excusing his behavior with his drug habit – that and the fact that he had me terrified that if I called the police he really would hurt my kid. I was stuck and I was a hostage in the relationship.

    The day finally came, a couple of months later, where he basically did me the favor of robbing me to fund his drug habit, and leaving me stranded without a working vehicle. I told him if he showed up again he would have been met by the authorities. I finally grew my backbone, and told him I had nothing more to give him because he took it all. He tried to manipulate me one last time with the threat that he was going to kill himself but I surprised him when I told him I didn’t care.

    Most importantly, I’ve also fixed my relationship with my teenage son and things have gotten back to normal – like before I even met that guy. I had to take a long, hard look at the damage I was doing by just trying to make things fair and easy for everyone involved.

    So – this coming September, he will have been gone a full year. I’ve gone “no-contact” this entire time. I’ve written about him, I’ve bitched about him, I’ve joined support groups as well as some Co-Dependency Anonymous meetings (which really helped me put myself first). I feel like I’m talking about him less and less and I go longer stretches of time without letting the thought of his stupidity enter my mind. I’m even trying to date again, but I notice now that I’m always watching my dates…and still kind of suspicious of any kind gestures or nice words – maybe that means I’m not completely ready yet. Who knows.

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