Emotional Abuse Page

See below for 10 Common Emotional Abuse Techniques.

Also, I am looking for people to post very brief examples of emotional abuse that they have suffered from their partners, as well as techniques that they have found useful to survive emotional abuse…

Please post anonymously!


PS.   Thanks so much…I am hoping to use the information to help others.


10 Common Emotional Manipulation Techniques

In intimate Partner Relationships

Remember: The abuser uses your two greatest strengths against you: your love for your partner and your love for your children. The abuser knows that you are not likely to abandon either, and will put up with almost anything to keep both.


  1. Belittlement: on a regular basis, the abuser says negative things to their partner. These put-downs range from intellect, ability to control emotions, appearance, housekeeping abilities, income production, parenting skills, use of time, sexual performance, general ability to manage your life, general worth to the world, and etc. Note that often times this comes in the form of sarcasm and humor, which makes it no less harmful, just easier to try to justify.
  2. Isolation: cutting the recipient off from any emotional support, including family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. This is often done very subtly; every time you mention spending time with someone else, you are not necessarily ordered not to do so, but it is accomplished nonetheless by one or more of the following: a) strong negative comments about the person, b) strong negative comments about your abandoning tasks at home, c) falsely claiming they emotionally need you at home, d) claiming there is not enough money for you to go out, and etc.
  3. Intimidation: emotionally or physically placing you in a position where you feel fearful for yourself and/or your children. This can be accomplished by physical aggression (body language), tone of voice, holding potential weapons, and etc.
  4. Coercion/Threats: Proposing or promising negative reactions if you do not comply with stated desires or plans. These threats can be to your body,  your children, your reputation, your financial status, your relationships with others, and your life. Many also threaten to take their own life, or take the children from yours. Coercion through attempts at stirring up pity or claiming that you do not want to save the marriage/relationship are also emotional manipulation.
  5. Blame-shifting: taking little or no blame for things to themselves and shifting most or all blame to you. Whether it be for a child’s sniffles, lost keys, unpaid bills, or loss of a job, abusers are very good at finding some way to shift the blame to their partner leaving little or none at their own doorstep.
  6. Economic Control: not giving you access to money, credit cards, and etc. Many abusers give all sorts of reasons why they do not allow their partners access to money, but the underlying reason is always the same – controlling your activities. Economic control is also accomplished by hiding all the records, bills, accounts, and etc. to keep you in the dark about the financial condition of the household, often in anticipation of a divorce/separaation.
  7.  Logistical Control: not allowing access to the car, phones, email, or even going to the store alone. Many abusers want to make sure that they are fully aware of where you are at all times, what you are doing, and with whom. Installing of tracking devices on computers or phones and putting GPS tracking devices on vehlcles is also logistical control.
  8. Child Manipulation: using the children to bring about any of the other types of abuse and control. The key phrase is “using the children”, and this is done without care or concern about any negative effects or harm might come to them as a result.
  9. Male Privilege: assuming that because he is a male, he has been granted by God or the universe, the right to: be smarter, have the first say, have the last say, do little or nothing around the house, have sex whenever he is in the mood, have no responsibilities for the children, ignore your concerns, or even things interesting to you, and etc.
  10. Religious Control: using religious authority to coerce you into behaving in ways in which you are not comfortable. This can be the area of complete submission, sexual domination, religious education, and etc.  This is a double whammy when woven in with male privilege. There are often strong and effective attempts to make you feel guilty and like a horrible sinner if you do not comply. This control is especially insidious because it is coupled with male privilege of being the one who gets to say how to interpret the religious texts. (Note 1: this is not to in any way meant to put down the texts themselves or their authority. In my experience it is misinterpretation and misapplication that is the problem, not the texts themselves.)(Note 2: The three major living religions in the U.S. are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and I am not aware of any problematic use of female privilege in these systems.)

12 Responses to Emotional Abuse Page

  1. April Little says:

    I think you have done a great job of representing techniques of emotional abuse. I am concerned, however, that you are stereotyping emotional abusers as primarily male (ie…your pronoun use and the use of religious justification as the superior sex). Women are emotional abusers, too. Just giving my two cents. 😉

  2. Norah Hibler says:

    Hi Jim, My ex-husband who was a drug addict and thief. When I would try to break off the relatioship he would tell me how I was the kindest person he ever met and that he would never make it without me. He needed me and didn’t even want to live without me in his life. When I would try to set limits and boundaries he would use his poor health as a reason for not being able to survive without me. He was literally “Killing me with kindness” by using my kind heart and compassion against me. Hope this makes sense. After I finally served him divorce papers ( while he was in jail the last time) he burned my home to the ground.

  3. Jim Shaul says:

    I am very aware that abuse goes both ways… I have personally experienced it in full force. I am also aware, however, that the vast majority of DIPA (Domestic Intimiate Partner Abuse) is done by males. That being said, my strong intent was to have this be as gender neutral as possible. That is why the first 8 have no gender-specific pronouns. Number 9 has to be, by definition. Number 10 is as written because I know of no current cases where religious control is being done by women…I am sure it is somewhere…

  4. Jeanna J. says:

    While I could give several examples, coming from not one, but two abusive relationships. The one that sticks in my mind was how he would continually attack my intelligence, and my parenting abilities. He was always bringing up IQ test on the internet, and would make my kids ( from 1st marraige) and I take them. He would always make sure he scored extremely high ( He would take them ahead of time so he knew how to score high, I think) He would laugh at us and ridicule us on our scores, even if we scored well. It was so ridiculous, how he behaved, and portrayed himself to be a genius. Then of course there was the traditional abuse of telling me I was dead inside and he didn’t want to be with me because I was a dead boring person, even though his friends always teased him and would say they invited us because I was so much fun!! ( that made him so angry) He ridiculed my kids ( from my first marriage) Would pit my kids against each other with lies, messed with their heads Attacked my parenting, even though in the beginning he said he fell in love with me because I was such a great mother. He wanted to have a child with me. I gave him beautiful boy/girl twins!! He walked out before they were a year old, stating that I was so dead inside and that I didn’t keep up my end of the “bargain??” of making the amount of money he thought I should make!! I found out later he had been having an affair with his co-worker since before I was pregnant!! He is now married to her, guess she makes more money! I am now, very much alive, happy, and back in college, where I carry a 4.0 GPA. I have more friends than ever before and have never been accused of being boring!!! The day he walked out, was the day he did me the biggest favor. Never stay with someone who darkens your soul, for he who darkens a shining soul, is one who has no soul at all………

  5. cubfan231 says:

    My ex wife was the epitome of verbal and emotional abuse. Towards the last couple of years of our marriage is when I reached my breaking point. I know. It’s usually the wife that ends up filing for divorce. The last couple years of our marriage; on weekends I never knew where my wife was at, what time she’d be home or who she was with. Our phone would ring and she’d hurry up and answer it. After she got off the phone she would tell the kids “Look at your dad kids. Isn’t this funny? Look how jealous he is”. We had already agreed to get a divorce. It was just a matter of me agreeing to let her save up enough money to hire an attorney. I had already had the papers drawn but not served. Finally (during a moment of clarity) I decided “Enough is enough”. I called my attorney and told her to serve my wife. Unfortunately since the only time I knew where she was at was when she was at work. She ended up getting served on her lunch hour at work in front of her co workers. I had to intention of exacting revenge. She brought the entire situation upon herself. When she got home she waas crying when she walked in the door. She asked me (with tears in her eyes) “I thought you were going to let me save up for an attorney”. My only response was “Deal with it”. I got up and left the room.

    • cubfan231 says:

      Thank You Jim, for allowing me the opportunity to share my “story” and vent just a little bit. Sometimes all it takes is a little self reflection; not in something you feel you’ve done and are left wondering how and why but allowing it to fester for the sake of the relationship ,”hoping & thinking” things will get better when in most cases (I believe) they never do.

  6. Over It says:

    It took a therapist to point out to me that I was being emotionally manipulated. He was insecure,needed reassurance daily and I stopped delivering the reassurance he required. One day I laughed at him for being so insecure. 8 years later and we finally divorced after I realized what manipulation actually was.

    • Jim Shaul says:

      Quite often, that is just the thing you need…and objective third party, whose judgment you trust, telling you the truth about how you are being treated….

  7. Lorinda Cantoya says:

    I was married for 20 years to my high school sweetheart, who I would discover, ranked in the “severe” category of a Destructive Narcissist. So, my stories of emotional abuse could be endless, like that he frequently told me that “if it wasn’t for me, you and the kids wouldn’t exist.”

    But what might be unique for your research is the spiritual/religious abuse inflicted upon me because of my strong Christian beliefs. At the time, my view on scripture was legalistic in nature. And he knew it. So, when it came to extramarital affairs, if parts didn’t meet parts (i.e. penis inside a vagina, to be blunt), then he wasn’t technically having an affair and I would have not scriptural right to divorce him. He also felt entitled to have “emotional affairs” (although he didn’t call it that) with other women throughout the course of the marriage, because I wasn’t adequate for such a man as him in this or that area. Here’s some examples of how the emotional abuse played out with the other women:
    – Coming home to find he and the other woman sitting next to each other on the couch going through his childhood photos.
    – Coming home to find he and the other woman out doing OUR yardwork.
    – Finding out that he has purchased Christmas gifts for the other woman and her children without my knowledge. (The gift he bought her was a watch.)
    – Telling me that the other woman was his best friend.
    – Telling me that the other woman was a better Christian because she stayed with her husband (with whom she had no children) because God hates divorce (vs. me who had explained that I was staying with him for the children).
    – Telling me frequently that because I was uneducated, I was uninteresting and small-minded.
    – Was disgusted because I was contented with our home. “She [the other woman] always wants better things.”
    – Was disgusted because I didn’t want to travel the world. “She [the other woman] has been everywhere!”
    – Would go shopping for his clothes with the other woman after I was told that I would no longer be helping him pick out his clothes. Sidenote: he was allowed to spend much more money on clothes, etc. because he “was meeting with CEO’s and world leaders” and I was not.
    – Would go out to dinner with the other woman because they were friends.
    – Would accept gifts from the other woman.
    – After telling me he was in love with the other woman, he told me that I should be grateful to him for staying [with me and the kids] because he was giving up so much [her] for us.
    Note: Everytime I say “other woman” – I am not referring to the same woman. This happened over the course of 20 years. So, probably about 9 women in total.

    When I started to wise up, got some good counseling and started to put down some boundaries, he pulled the un-forgiveness card. And be-rated me what a horrible Christian I was because I wouldn’t forgive him over and over again. He even followed me around the house one time with the Bible cracked open yelling scripture to me about forgiveness. He found my journal one time and destroyed it. He would read through my bible study books and then use the information to be-rate me. He called all bible studies and Christian music, “brain washing.” Once, he found a tithe check I was trying to “sneak” off to church (I had a job, so I was just tithing from what I made), he screamed and yelled and closed the bank account, cutting me off from all household monies.

    Again, the stories I could tell would take hours. In the end, we divorced, he quickly remarried (felt entitled to get engaged while we were still technically married). When the new wife had had enough and filed for divorce after only about 1 year, he shot and killed himself.

  8. Jim Shaul says:

    Lorinda, Sadly, so much of this sounds so familiar, even in evangelical circles. Most of this has nothing to do with the man’s religious convictions… it has to do with his felt need to control. I am so glad you got free of him…I deal with so many women who have stayed in these kind of relationships for 20-30 years and are just empty shells of their former selves. Email me sometime if there is anything I can do to help your healing process. jimshaul@shaulmediation.com

  9. Tiffany says:

    Thank you for all the work that you do! About the list: my son’s father has all of the traits. I will briefly give examples on a few.. Before I do, I feel it is best that I give a quick background (although that is difficult). I was engaged to him in 2004-2005. We were both young and looking back I was extremely naive. It started with what I have learned to be love bombing. It quickly turned to abuse. By then I was in way over my head. I will not go into details, but trust me it was beyond bad. When I got pregnant the abuse escalated and then he left. I spent 6 years raising the most beautiful little boy alone and happy. Our son started asking questions about why he doesn’t have a dad but other kids do, who his dad was, ect. I showed him pictures and when he asked where he was I answered truthfully that I didn’t know. This weighed on me. I wanted to be the best mother possible and so I called his father. Mostly I did it so that when our son was 15 and had the really hard questions I could look our son in the eye and tell him I did everything I could. The response from the phone call was not positive in any way. This broke my heart even more. How could someone not care about their kid? Months later he had an interest. I didn’t see anything wrong with father and son meeting and playing ball, spending time together safely. A child should know who their other parent is…and be protected. I thought the court system would feel the same way and common sense would lead you there anyway. Father and son met in March of 2012 when son was 6. Looking back there were signs all over the place that I chose to ignore. I hate to admit this, but somehow he love bombed me again! He painted this very elaborate fantacy of our son growing up in a nuclear home and even took me house hunting-not for houses we could actually afford, but for dream houses, and convenced me that we could do it. In August 2012 he moved closer to me and son. That is when the red flags could no longer be ignored. The same week that he moved closer I contacted and started seeing a counselor. I couldn’t understand what was going on….was I crazy or was he. Later I found out this is the pivital question domestic violence victims ask right before they start to come out of the fog. By November 2012 I had obtained a protection order for myself and a child protection order. This move thrust my son and I into the family court system in Missouri. The place where I thought we would find relief and protection….NOT! I will not go into that aspect of the journey at this time.
    1. Belittlement…it was constant and most of the time covert. Little remarks here and there. It was so confusing for me because it came directly after an overabundance of compliments and praises. But then nothing I did was right. I overreacted, I was too emotional, I didn’t give him his space (or if I did, then I gave him too much and was neglecting him). When I say nothing I did was right I mean NOTHING! I was no longer entitled to my emotions as they were wrong and he told me constantly.
    2. Isolation. I believe he tried this as well. He absolutely didn’t want me talking to anyone, especially about him. I made the mistake of bringing up a conversation with, “Well, my sister thinks…” And he absolutely forbid me to see her or speak to her again! I was naively trying to validate my thoughts and feelings, because as I said in Belittlement, I was losing them. He did not want me seeing my counselor and so he started coming to the sessions and taking over, manipulating… He also attempted to keep me in isolation by constantly calling and texting me. He had to know where I was and with whom every second. He would also call/text me knowing that I was walking into one of my college classes to take a test or give a presentation. All of a sudden he needed me right then for various reasons. I (of course) would politely remind him of my current obligations. Then when class was over and I would call him or stop by his house I would be given the silent treatment or talked down to because I “wasn’t there for him when he needed me.” It would not matter that I was there then, just a few hours later. I was the perpetrator, he was the victim. His behavior could then be washed under the bridge because I was the bad one.
    3 and 4: I think 3 and 4 go together very easily. The intimidation quickly turns to threats. The intimidation could be perceived as threats… a few examples: After son’s father moved closer, we were at his house often. The only cups he had were long-stemed wine glasses or metal coffee cups. Of course there was always the collection of gas station styrofom cups everywhere, but I purchased some little blue cups for son to drink milk, juice, ect out of . No big deal right? Boy was I wrong! He became irate! He gathered up all the cups and collected them together while yelling at me. He made no sense what-so-ever. He yelled that he was going to throw them away and then demostrated it. But then pulled them out of the trash and came over to me in a “nice?” voice and said, “But that would be wrong, and would probably hurt your feelings.” Then he announced that he would box them up and put them in the basement. I didn’t understand? I protested and was like, “They are little cups for son to drink out of.” The argument continued and of course he won because he boxed up the cups and put them in my car. They were a disgrace I guess to him. Everytime he flung his hands close to me I flinched. Then he started in about how I shouldn’t be scared of him, that at least the cops weren’t called, at least he didn’t throw me down the stairs, ect. Bizarro world. Then in his car (we were headed to my grandparents house for a bbq with family) he was pounding on the steering wheel and I kid you not he was growling. The veins in his neck poking out and his face all red and contorted. Our son was in the backseat. The reason he got so mad= he said it was because I could’t let it go. He tried to convince me that I had a problem with not letting his abusive attacks go. I can chuckle a little about it now, but at the time I was scared to death. The pounding of his fist on the steering wheel and dash turned into him yelling in the backseat to our son, “Isn’t mommy stupid! She is so stupid! Cups! Cups! Cups! She is getting all worked up about CUPS! That is so stupid!” Son was crying and I’m sure traumatized. I knew better than to say anything at that point because it would only escalate, but then even not saying anything was wrong. Remember, nothing I did was right. This was one of the most mildest encounters. I have lots of other examples and could go on at a later time. I try to be careful how many triggers I have to deal with at one time for my own sanity. Although I surprisingly got over his abuse rather quickly, I have many, many triggers from the Missouri Family Court system.

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