The Sneaky Ways Emotional Abuse Occurs and How to Recognize Them

Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, but it can be much harder to recognize. This is because emotional abuse often occurs in subtle and sneaky ways that can be difficult to pinpoint. Here are some of the most common ways emotional abuse can occur:


Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser manipulates their partner into questioning their own sanity. The abuser may deny things that actually happened, or make their partner feel like they’re overreacting to a situation. Over time, this can lead to the victim feeling like they can’t trust their own perceptions and memories.

Passive-aggressive behavior:

This is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser uses subtle or indirect ways to express anger or frustration. For example, they may give their partner the silent treatment, or make sarcastic comments that are meant to hurt or undermine their partner’s confidence.

Withholding affection:

Withholding affection is a common tactic used by emotional abusers. They may use it as a way to punish their partner, or to manipulate them into doing what they want. Over time, this can lead to feelings of rejection and emotional distance in the victim.

Criticism and belittling:

Emotional abusers may use criticism and belittling to make their partner feel small and inadequate. They may criticize their partner’s appearance, intelligence, or abilities, and make them feel like they can’t do anything right.


Emotional abusers may try to isolate their partner from friends and family, making them feel like they’re the only one who truly understands them. This can make it easier for the abuser to manipulate and control their partner.

Recognizing emotional abuse can be difficult, especially if it’s been happening for a long time. However, there are some signs that can help you identify it. These can include feeling constantly criticized or belittled, feeling like you can’t do anything right, or feeling like you’re always walking on eggshells around your partner.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing emotional abuse, it’s important to seek help. This can include talking to a trusted friend or family member, reaching out to a counselor or therapist, or contacting a support group for survivors of emotional abuse.

In conclusion, emotional abuse can occur in sneaky and subtle ways, but it can be just as damaging as physical abuse. By recognizing the signs and seeking help, you can break free from the cycle of abuse and begin to heal.