24/7 family violence
response phone line
1800 015 188

Emotional abuse is any act intended to undermine someone’s self-esteem, intimidate them, or isolate them.

Some examples of emotional abuse are when someone…

  • Puts you down all the time or criticises you, calls you names, makes you feel like you’re not good enough or can’t do anything right
  • Blames you for problems in the relationship
  • Yells or swears at you
  • Ignores you
  • Makes you feel guilty if you don’t do what they want
  • Embarrasses you in front of other people
  • Threatens to harm or kill themselves so you do what they want

Impacts of emotional abuse

Emotional abuse can have significant impacts on a person’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Often individuals who experience emotional abuse say that they started believing what the perpetrator was telling them – that they weren’t good enough, or that problems in the relationship were all their fault. Many victims of emotional abuse report feeling like they were constantly ‘walking on eggshells’ or that they started trying to change themselves or their behaviour in an attempt to make the perpetrator happy, but nothing was even enough to stop the abuse.

Feelings of shame, guilt, unworthiness and powerlessness can often result from emotional abuse, as can mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, emotional instability, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. In some emotional abuse situations, the victim may become more dependent on the perpetrator, even defending their actions to others or denying anything is wrong in the relationship.

If you are experiencing emotional abuse, call safe steps

If you are experiencing emotional abuse from someone close to you, you can call safe steps 24/7 on 1800 015 188 for confidential support, information and assistance.