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Warning signs of emotional abuse

 Emotional abuse may be subtle but it will take a toll on your emotional wellbeing (Image: Shutterstock)

Emotional abuse is not a new thing. It comes in subtle ways like a comment here and a joke there but these words can pierce right through someone’s heart. Emotional abuse is the most common form of abuse not addressed that people experience at home, work even school, adults and children alike.

Though most people may not even realize they are being emotionally abused, there are signs that could help you know you are stuck in this vicious circle. If you are not sure you are being emotionally abused here are some of the warning signs:

Name calling

When someone straightforwardly calls you stupid, foolish or slow, whether in private or in front of other people and it makes you uncomfortable, that’s emotional abuse. Name calling especially amongst friends may be considered okay but when you feel bad about yourself later on, it is still emotional abuse.

Pet names

When someone intricately calls you those pet names like “chubby baby” or “fast sloth,” they are not trying to make you feel good about yourself. If someone wants to give you a compliment, it will be plain and simple not through derogatory pet names.

Character assassination

This is very common at the workplace when someone wants to bring you out as though you are lazy or not a good person. For instance, when they use words like ‘they are always late’ or ‘they won’t listen,’ they are basically ruining your reputation amongst other people.

 Emotional abuse is when they constantly turn tables on you and paint you black (Image: Shutterstock)

Do you ever feel someone is trying to bring you out as though you can’t handle a specific task or situation? Statements like: ‘I know you can do it but let Andrew do it.’ It comes out as though they are understanding but in the real sense they don’t believe in your capabilities.


When you are a parent and you are always yelling at your kids, you are subtly abusing them emotionally. Or when your partner or boss is always shouting at you like you are deaf. People who yell at others want to intimidate them and make them feel inconsequential.

Picking on your appearance

Like any other bully, the easiest way to put someone down is to insult their appearance. If someone is constantly picking on your outfits, height or even skin colour that’s emotional abuse. You will start to feel self-conscious around people and doubt everything else you do.

Belittling your success

When your partner, friend or colleague constantly tries to water down your accomplishments, they are toying with your self-esteem. This or trying to put themselves first when you talk about yourself or make it known that they helped you achieve something.

 When your partner constantly threatens you, this is abuse (Image: Shutterstock)
Pushing your buttons

This is very common in romantic relationships, when your partner knows what upsets you but still does the same thing everyday, they are emotionally torturing you by intentionally getting into your nerves. A person who cares about your feelings will steer clear of your triggers


Things like ‘I will leave you if you do this’ or ‘I will tell your supervisor about this’ can do a number on our emotional wellbeing. Knowing that your relationship or job hangs by a thread or on the word of another person can be hard to deal with on a day to day basis.

Turning tables

This is one of the commonest forms of emotional abuse. When someone makes a mistake and tries to make it sound like it was your fault or doing, this is emotional abuse. This can happen even when you know you are right, the other party will never take blame for anything, instead you take the fault for them every time.

Tip: As mentioned earlier, emotional abuse is subtle and will often go unnoticed but basically anything that makes you feel bad about yourself is a form of emotional abuse.  

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