Emotional Abuse

What is Emotional Abuse?

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Any behavior that is aimed to control and subjugate another person through the use of fear, humiliation, verbal and physical assaults is abuse. Constant criticism, making snide remarks, verbal threats and manipulating another person’s decisions in the disguise of offering advice all are emotional abuse. Research proves such behavior systematically erodes the victim’s self concept, self esteem, self confidence and self worth thus emtional abuse is regarded as the most destructive of all types of abuse.


Types of Emotional Abuse


 Aggression is both direct and indirect. Calling names  (you are selfish, conniving, very smart etc.), making accusations (you did X on purpose, you want my parents to die, you want me to break off from my parents etc.), threats (do X or else I’ll …, stay in your limits of I’ll teach you a lesson etc.) and ordering around is direct aggression. When someone’s criticizing, questioning, analyzing, probing, advising and offering solutions that feels over bearing it is indirect aggression even if they mean well. It feels they are belittling or controlling the other or are insisting ‘I know best.” In such situations the abuser demand undivided time and attention. In Indian context this may appear as “let me do that or you’ll just spoil it,” “Oh! you can’t even do this,”I know what is in your heart,” “I want you to do this now or else…” etc. Often



 Refusal to acknowledge how you feel such as, when you confront the abuser they may say “I do not know what you are talking about,” “I never said that,” “I was just joking,” etc. Refusal to listen to your view point (“You mean I should not meet my parents/friends” etc. even when you did not say that) or ignoring your concerns (“you are just exaggerating there is enough money in the account “etc.), feelings and treating you like an extension of themselves (making decisions without consulting you eg. “I told them she’ll do it,” “You have to do it because I gave a word” etc)  is denying. We are a couple so we should think and feel alike. Refusal to talk or listen to you, withholding affection as punishment is also part of denying. Giving silent treatment to the abused on her/his refusal to abide by abuser’s wishes/commands.


Minimizing is a form of denial. The abuser accepts that the said event occurred but denies how the abused feels. For example, “you are being too sensitive,” “you are too touchy about particular topic,” “you misunderstood me my English/Hindi/X language is not so good” etc. thus implying recipient’s emotions and perceptions are faulty or inconsequential.

Click to read  How Abuse Begins




17 Responses to “Emotional Abuse”

  1. sshree333 July 18, 2020 at p07 #

    DG, I was being abused by my best friend. She really made me doubt my sanity. Whenever I confronted her about anything, she would deny it and play the victim as I if I were wrong.

    Your article made me realize that I was being emotionally abused.

    How well you have written all the points. I could identify word to word.

    DG, it is so difficult to spot emotional abuse. It takes years! Most times these people are so close that you cannot forever break up with them. They are an integral part of life. Everyone in your family knows them. Sometimes they are members of your family.

    I have a few questions regarding emotional abuse:

    1. Can we confront an emotionally abusive person and tell them that they are emotionally abusing us?

    2. Sometimes we feel sorry for them and want to help them. Most of these people are in abusive relationship themselves. Is there any way we can guide them and help them change themselves.

    3. Since we cannot let these people go out of our lives (as they are relatives), sometimes they come close to us again. Abuse starts happening and we don’t realize. So, how can we be with them and still protect ourselves.

    4. Their spouse or boyfriends/girlfriends are also emotionally abused by these people. How can we help them?

    In my case, I would really like to help my friend’s husband

    Another case, the girl who is abusive, tortures her boyfriends and love interests.

    5. Once you know their game and try to distance yourself from them, they do a lot of drama and that really disturbs us. How to handle that?

    Thanks DG,
    Lots of love,


    • girlsguidetosurvival July 18, 2020 at p07 #


      Welcome back to GGTS, a safe space.

      You pose very important questions they demand a whole post. DG will try to respond to each question in a post in next few days.

      Please share this message of hope with anyone who may benefit.
      Desi Girl


      • sshree333 July 18, 2020 at p07 #

        DG, I will be eageely waiting for your post. Thanks for prompt response.

        Liked by 1 person

      • sshree333 July 21, 2020 at p07 #

        DG,one more question that I would like to add to the list is:

        Do most abusers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder?


  2. miraculin May 29, 2013 at p05 #

    hi DG,

    I am married 10 months now. Inter religious love marriage. I am a Christian and he was a Hindu (converted to Christian during marriage.) when we had to decide how to marry, he asked whether I can convert. I said no. I had faith in my religion and he is not like that. So he said he will convert (mostly out of compulsion I guess). His family is very much orthodox. This is the basic reason I wanted a Christian marriage because I felt they will not let us live in peace if we had done a hindu marriage or had done a register marriage. His family did not accept us. In the opposite my family had no objection.
    His parents did not attend our marriage.
    Before marriage I took him for granted for months (10 months or so – this happened just before marriage). I regret it till today, I did not do it on purpose. I realized that after marriage and I will never repeat it. During those when I took him for granted, he had a difficult relationship with his family main because of our marriage. Altogether it had left a bitter feeling in him. But during all these he loved me so much and was very patient.
    Our relationship is very much abusive from both ends. Myself and he.
    About my family: I am from middle upper class family. Initially my mother and father used to cook and the rest is done by servant. Later, We had servant at home for everything – to cook, clean, wash etc. we have a room for each person and we spend most of our time in our private room. We come out of our rooms only to take food from the table. My mother and father had a very strained relationship. (I do not know if it left any impression on me.). My mother entirely took care of my family. She is the strongest person I have ever seen. (Nowadays I feel she is quite manipulative too.). I have an elder brother. He is a very broad minded person. I admire him a lot. My dad is a hypocrite. He is nice outside to others but not to my mother. He went into deep debt and went away from home in the name of business. My mother had to face (still facing) all the problems he had caused. He is a money minded person.

    About his family: He is from a lower middle class family. Mother, father, 2 elder sisters and him. His family is very much orthodox. They see good time, bad time for everything (husband told me). Love marriage is very much new to his family.

    Our relationship: he is 9 years elder to me (now I am 23 and he is 32). He is my house owner’s son’s classmate. I met when I was in fifth standard. I had a crush on him even since that time. We didn’t speak much though. During college, we fell in love and came to know he too liked me a lot since my fifth standard. In the second year of my college(engineering), I stopped talking to him abruptly. I felt I was doing wrong. I regret it. That is one of the worst things I have done on my life.
    Later , during my third year of my college, I started speaking to him, he asked why did I do so, I gave reasons like, my mom was strict, she found out etc..etc.. then again we started talking. (not as a lover though, I do not know what I was doing! He asked how should we proceed, I said lets be friends.) One day I went to meet him. I got caught at home.(I told I am going to my friend’s house and my mom had called to find out I was not there.. they don’t doubt me unnecessarily, I think since I was talking to him over phone they would have found something is fishy.) . my mom did not talk to me for one whole day and the next day she asked what have you decided about marrying him. Till that moment, I did not feel like marrying him (though I liked him a lot, he is very kind, soft, sweet, etc. I thought since he is much older he might want to marry at the earliest which I was not willing.) But when my mom asked so, I wanted to marry because I did not want to miss this nice person in my life.

    He loved me like hell. I do not know how to describe it. He loved me a lot. Shared everything with me. I too liked him. Was addicted to him in a way. Later I started taking him for granted without my conscious knowledge. But he stayed with me.

    As I thought, he wanted to marry early as he was nearing 30. We got married 10 months ago. I am working in my own school (my parents run a school) just for the sake of earning. I want to be independent always.

    I realized I was taking him for granted when he started giving silent treatment (before marriage). I used to repeated call him when he hangs up on me on a call and yell at him. He used to sms me all the time and I did not care to reply(not intentionally, I do not know why I did so). One day, he stopped sms-ing and I asked him, he said, he did not feel like it. When we used to go out, I always chose hotel or coffee shop over going to park. Later after I realized, I wanted to park to spend time with him, but he wanted to go to hotel instead.

    Post marriage: we live in a separate rent house. He is working in night shift and I am in day shift and we hardly get time to see each other during weekdays. Quarrels, yelling(me at him) and silent treatment(him at me) all the time. He is a person who understands things when we sit together and talk nut yelling character has changed him I guess. 10 months passed, we have spent more time in yelling and silence than being together. Nowadays if we spend one day without argument it is a big deal.

    I am using harsh words always. He, then gets up and leaves the room. Then, he will not talk to me, eat at home, and attend my calls even in an emergency. I cry a lot. I am a person who use harsh words in an anger and later a smile can cool me down.
    During the initial months of our marriage, we used to go to his house during weekends, just 5 min from my house, he always wants me to wear chudidhar or sari. Since I work in school I wear every day, so I wish to wear western clothes during weekends. But that does not happen. And he insists I keep bindi when I visit his house or any function in his house. I do not like it. I like keeping bindi but now they are forcing on me, I totally hate it. As soon as we enter his house, his mother or his sister comes with bindi and says, please keep bindi. Nobody here is allowed without keeping it. I feel irritated. I wear it when they give it and remove it immediately once I move out. Every time we plan to go to his house, this happens. I hate going there for the same reason.
    Nowadays we don’t go there mainly because, once in an argument about moving in together with his parents, he said, “I can only decide one of the two. One: we move in with them. Two: we don’t move in with them and therefore there is no necessity to visit them often. So from now on I am not going to visit them at all.” I kept quiet. After that we didn’t go there much may be once or twice. That’s all.

    Another problem 1: I’m not very organized at house work and this gets him irritated to the core. He helps in everything in our house work. He can sweep, mop, clean vessels, cut vegetables etc etc. I want to be very much organized in everything but I am not able to do it. I am always late to work.(since it is my own school I take advantage of that.) I am not punctual in anything. I want to keep the house as organized as possible. I do it for two days and later it’s gone. my house is messed up all again. I feel lazy.
    He is very much irritated because he grew in a house where his mother did everything. He will clean the house, sweep, mop and again I mess it up. Not on purpose though.

    Another problem 2: His father has two flats. One is under construction. So his father and mother are living in the other flat which is single bedroom flat. Now, he is having of plans of moving together with his family after the flat is constructed but I’m not for it. If I go there, I will have no identity and I know he will never stand up for me in any situation. We have a lot of arguments on it. I tell him I will come there only if he is willing to stand up for me. One minute, he says he will, next time he says, he is not sure whether he can stand up for me. Though I want to go there just for the sake of him, I’m terribly scared.
    He constantly finds fault in me in everything I do. Right from brushing my teeth to doing any chore at home. Also I am never appreciated for any work that I do. I feel hurt. When I cook and ask him for comments, he says, it is edible only. I am hurt. This is happening from the first day of marriage. Once I made sambar and gave it to my mother’s house and everybody there said it is so good. I felt so happy. On the other hand, I appreciate him in every little thing he does (I don’t do it to get appreciated in return, it is my nature I guess). And if I fail to notice anything he had missed, he will point out and ask for comments. [For eg: hey, you didn’t notice that I have cleant the stove. Isn’t it nice?. I look at the stove. It is really clean. And I tell him, oh yes, I did not notice. It is very nice da. He smiles.]
    I feel I am a drama queen. Attention seeker. Manipulative. Feeling guilty all the time.

    Few incidents of my marriage life:
    1. Yesterday, My brother had a baby few days back and we went to see them at hospital. His in-laws were also present there.(my brother did a register marriage. He married a hindu. Both families accepted.). my husband loves babies. So I went near the infant, he was standing next to the room entrance itself. I tell him, come here, come here, you can have the baby in your hand. After so much hesitation, he came near me and took the infant. Back home, we were just talking casually, he says he did not like it when I called him near me because all were ladies next to the bed there and gents were sitting (are supposed to seat) only near the entrance. The in-laws might feel bad because they are hindu, they will follow all this. I was thinking what the hell!

    I said, so you are bothered only about the in-laws who might get hurt and you do not think about me. he said, yes, you are right. Iam wrong totally and he got up and left the room and is giving me silent treatment. I cry.

    2. He gets angry if I don’t cook and gives silent treatment and he will not eat at home.

    3. Once we were just chatting in the hall in the afternoon. As we were talking, he said,”I am looking at the clock(digital clock) often just to remind you that you have switched it off in the morning, but you are not noticing me.” (we have two clocks in the hall, I use digital clock for exercise and getting ready to work). I was totally shocked. I was thinking, that means he was not at all involved in the chatting we had. I was happy that we were spending time chatting. I was deeply hurt. I went quiet.

    I am not remembering many things now, but every time it is just a small thing over which we end up yelling followed by silent treatment.

    I want to make this relationship work. I’m sure he too wants the same. i am browsing your blog for answers. they are helping a lot. i understood yelling is emotional abuse only after reading it here. i feel bad that i’m doing it. i carry the guilt everyday. Advice me on how to stop the emotional abuse. many times i wonder if this relationship is going to work ever! i do not know. hope it works.


    Welcome back to GGTS, a safe space.

    You have written to me sometime ago and I had answered in detail. https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/dealing-with-in-laws/#comment-8266

    You are just repeating yourself if you want DG’s personal attention you should understand her time costs. She has clearly mentioned in numeroud posts any one on one response will be a nominally charged service.
    Please respect her time and opinion.

    Thank you,
    Desi Girl


    • miraculin May 30, 2013 at p05 #

      thank you DG. you response is very much valuable to me. i am looking for personal response. i feel there is too much damage done in our relationship and now i am very scared whether we can restore it back. i would like to take up a paid service. how do i do?


  3. apite January 24, 2013 at p01 #

    hi DG,

    Its natural to have inbuilt defence mechanisms. When i am afraid and when i do not like what the other person is doing, we can automatically become withdrawn emotionally and may not respond well to the other person. How to proceed in such a case – you cannot confront a person because you do not know how they twist or think about it.


    Welcome to GGTS, a safe space.
    If someone is doing something you don’t like just ask and tell guess talking is taught to children early in life but nobody teaches how to talk effectively in a relationship. DG is still learning.
    Though you have asked a very abstract question and had you browsed around you would have found the answer here


    Next time please be direct in asking DG she doesn’t respond well to hypothetical and abstract questions.

    Please share this message of hope with anyone who may benefit.
    Desi Girl


  4. thisistrue! May 14, 2011 at p05 #

    Emotional abuse is huge in India – even bigger than cricket!

    It is sad how it is passed down through the generations. It is endemic to one side of my family, and I am sad to say has creeped into my own nuclear family.

    How can this inter-generational chain of emotional abuse in Indian society ever stop?

    I am glad there are blogs like this addressing this topic. Awareness is the first step.


    Yes, this cycle of intergenerational abuse can STOP. Say it out loud THIS STOPS WITH ME. I WILL NOT BE PART OF THIS GAME HERE AFTER.
    Here are some resources. Please refer the comments and the books mentioned.

    Please share this message of hope with anyone who may benefit.
    Desi Girl


  5. Usha April 7, 2011 at p04 #

    The lines you have quoted are the ones that keep doing the rounds all the time. I must say , I find it absolutely brilliant that you used these lines to highlight the ways emotional abuse is disguised in.
    Great job! and I wish your message reaches more people.

    If it sounds familiar then it is happening too frequently. 🙂 Time to make some changes 🙂
    Please share this message of hope with anyone who may benefit.
    Desi Girl


  6. shail July 28, 2010 at p07 #

    How familiar it all sounds.


  7. Indian Homemaker July 28, 2010 at p07 #

    Voted for you. Tweeted this post, I think such posts should be read by all.


  8. emily March 3, 2010 at p03 #

    I enjoy browsing your blog, I usually learn something interesting facts.
    Emily Randall from Husky Training.net


  9. girlsguidetosurvival December 18, 2009 at p12 #


    Khamoshi todo, bahan. You are not alone. Many of us are sailing in the same boat. This is a safe space where we can together find solutions to our everyday problems. Desi Girl has created a page “For Khamoshi” just devoted to your questions. She could not come up with a proper title. Please suggest one and let her know if the information is helpful to you and your firends.


  10. Khamoshi December 18, 2009 at p12 #

    Hmm…now I’m even more confused. My husband and I live a pretty hectic life…full-time jobs, part-time masters programs. We’ve been married for nearly 3 years- 3 very rough years I’d say where both of us experienced the knee-jerking effects of married life at it’s bitterest start. It was a love marriage, believe it or not, but things faded right away after that knot was tied. My in-laws are not here, but of course, all the effects of long distance communication and manipulation discussed in the other posts are naturally present. We’ve managed to finally acknowledge, understand, solve and get over many hurdles during this short time, but like any marriage, there are little things that urk me…like when my husband is excited to go out with his friends as a group but all of a sudden, we don’t have the time to do something with just the two of us. I feel as if I am left with the entire responsibility of taking care of things at home, and he doesn’t contribute much. If I do ask him to help, the task sits around for days, sometimes weeks, until I do it myself. When I confront him about these things, he always bursts out saying how I make him feel that he is worthless and undependable. I, on the other hand, I feel that I am the one who is emotionally abused in one way or another and yet I am the one who ends up saying “sorry”. While reading this post, I’ve realized that maybe I am inflicting reverse emotional abuse towards him in the process when my loneliness, anger and sadness are building up. I’ve caught myself holding back love from him (I don’t know if he realizes that) but it sure does hurt me. How do these problems get solved?


    • mum May 20, 2012 at p05 #

      Please google any quiz about ‘are you being emotinally abused’. Also look online for a book called Power and Control- why charming men make dangerous lovers.
      My daughter has just been rescued from an abusive marriage within weeks of the wedding.
      Every girl must be educated from a very young age to recognise signs of abusive men.

      Welcome to GGTS, a safe space.
      Glad to know your daughter is safe. GGTS was started With the purpose of sharing information and breaking isolation .
      Guess you missed the quiz on GGTS


      Please share this message of hope with anyone who may benefit.
      Desi Girl



  1. What makes some of us resent abuse victims instead of supporting them. « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker - April 11, 2011

    […] instinctive feeling that somehow, it’s not she but the abuser who is at fault. Even though she isn’t sure – she probably genuinely believes that she could have avoided the violence if she taken care […]


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Own your relationships. Don't let them own you.

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