The Invisible Scars of Psychological Abuse In Relationships

With the massive outrage over celebrity domestic violence cases around the world, it is apparent that even though we have miles to go to eradicate the issue, we as a society are increasingly becoming intolerant of physical abuse. And it is excellent. Physical abuse is painful and traumatizing. But it is also a clear line and more apparent to spot. 

Psychological abuse, on the contrary, is insidious. Not only does it take multiple forms and shapes, but it is also extremely difficult to spot, even in one’s own relationship. However, despite being much less visible, psychological abuse is much more common and equally harmful as physical abuse. 

The very structure of psychological or mental abuse is built using control and power tactics that leave the victim feeling vulnerable, scared, and ashamed. Psychological and emotional abuse in relationships can eat away at a person’s self-esteem and threaten their mental well-being in the long term. This is why it is important to understand the various aspects of psychological abuse so that you can recognize the red flags because they start hurting you.

On that note, let us dive deeper into psychological abuse, its warning signs, and ways to cope with it. 

Psychological Abuse

What Is Psychological Abuse?

Just like physical abuse, psychological abuse is all about control and power, just without the physical nature. It manifests as demeaning and invalidating behaviors that allow a partner to exert control and power on their significant other in a relationship. It can also occur continuously for years under the disguise of humor, teasing, or bluntness.

This form of abuse uses threats, verbal insults, and other subtle forms of coercion tactics to gain power in the relationship. The abuse is tailored to destroy the partner’s self-esteem and make them entirely dependent on the abuser. 

Read more: Breaking The Attachment Cycle – Healing From Trauma Bonding

What Are The Common Signs Of Psychological Abuse?

When you are mentally and emotionally hurting but also have an attachment and feeling for the abuser, it can get increasingly difficult to spot the signs of mental abuse. You can often be tricked into feeling like you are the cause of the problem or that you deserve the way you are being treated. Maybe your partner hasn’t hit you physically, and therefore you feel justifying their emotional abuse is okay. Whatever your reasons, it is important that you take a step back and reflect on the signs. Emotional abuse is just as its name suggests – a form of abuse. To help you understand your situation better, here are the signs of psychological abuse.

1. You are constantly made to feel like you are not enough.

Constantly feeling incomplete can chip away at our happiness and threaten our self-esteem. However, the damage can be even more significant if a partner makes us feel like we are not enough. It can mentally beat you to rock bottom. 

2. They consistently make mean jokes and statements. 

There is a significant difference between innocent jokes and outright humiliation. A big red flag for psychological abuse in relationships is a person’s tendency to put their partner down in public and private situations constantly.

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3. They frequently direct their anger toward you.

Yes, every couple has their own share of bickers and fights. However, these conflicts should always be driven by respectful and open communication, not outright screamings and tantrums. If your partner tends to direct their anger outbursts at you, especially in private, it is a definite sign of mental abuse.

4. They minimize and downplay your needs.

One of the more subtle signs of psychological and emotional abuse include minimization. This doesn’t only mean making you feel small and powerless, though it is a huge part of it. Additionally, minimization in mental abuse means your partner constantly downplays your needs and makes you feel like an attention seeker or incapable person altogether. 

What Do If You Are Being Psychologically Abused In Relationships?

If you feel you are being subjected to psychological abuse in your relationship, it is important to know that multiple resources are available. Here are some of the best tips for leaving a mentally abusive partner.

1. Trust your instincts.

The first step toward leaving an abusive relationship is recognizing that you are in one initially. Therefore trust your gut. If you feel like something amounts to psychological abuse, it most definitely is psychological abuse. 

2. Distance yourself.

This one’s tough. But you can only fully recover and heal from the toxic cycle of abuse when you completely dissociate yourself from the abusive partner. Therefore, it is important to distance yourself. 

3. Surround yourself with loved ones.

Abuse can often leave people feeling alone and isolated. This is why it is important to find support and love from people who genuinely love and care about you. 

Why Is It Important To Recognize Psychological Abuse As Abuse?

We are taking huge strides in discussing women’s rights in every sphere. However, conversations around psychological abuse are often limited. This is why there is a growing need for advocacy and awareness around the extent and impact of psychological abuse on the victim’s life. This is because it will help:

  • foster equality and safety within the society and help people identify and recognize signs of psychological abuse, thereby increasing support for victims,
  • increase quality care and support for victims dealing with trauma, and
  • strengthen the case of psychological abuse victims with respect to the legal framework.


Psychological abuse is one of the many forms of abuse. Just like in all other forms of abuse, in the case of psychological abuse, it is essential to recognize that it is not the victim’s fault. Abusers are specifically skilled in dumping the responsibility for their actions on the abuser. However, it is crucial to recognize that their actions are their fault and no one else’s.

If you or someone you know have been through psychological and emotional abuse, addressing your issues in a safe space is important. Therapy provides people with the right safe space to address their issues and find effective ways to recover. Access to therapy is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy platforms. To learn more about them, click here.

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