Recognizing and Responding to Emotional Abuse in a Marriage

  • Emotional abuse is a serious issue affecting countless marriages, yet it is rarely spoken about and can be hard to identify.
  • Examples of emotional abuse include derogatory language, gaslighting, withholding affection, isolation tactics, and threatening behavior.
  • Seeking help from a professional therapist, domestic violence hotline, and/or support group can be helpful.
  • Taking legal action, such as obtaining a restraining order and filing for divorce, may also be necessary in some cases.
  • It’s important to prioritize your well-being by engaging in self-care activities and seeking counseling or therapy.

Emotional abuse is a serious issue that affects countless marriages. According to statistics, almost half of all marriages in the United States have experienced emotional abuse at some point. It is rarely spoken about and can be difficult to recognize, but it can devastate the lives of those involved. If you suspect emotional abuse in your marriage, it is important to take steps to protect yourself and your family. Explore emotional abuse and how you can respond when you recognize it in your relationship.

What Does Emotional Abuse Look Like?

Emotional abuse is a form of psychological manipulation where one partner attempts to control the other through verbal or non-verbal means. Here are examples of this behavior:

Belittling or Demeaning Language

You may notice or experience your partner using derogatory language or insults. They may tell you that you are worthless, stupid, or ugly. This type of language is meant to make you feel insecure and can lead to depression.


When someone manipulates facts or events in a way that causes their partner to question their judgment and reality, this is called gaslighting. This usually involves telling lies, withholding information, and/or denying things that happened. You may feel confused and doubt your instincts when your partner does this.

Withholding Affection

Your partner may withhold physical or emotional affection to punish you or control the relationship. They may treat you silently, ignore your texts or calls, or refuse to spend time with you. This is emotionally damaging and can leave you feeling lonely and unloved.

Isolation Tactics

You may notice your partner attempting to isolate you from friends and family by discouraging contact with them or preventing it altogether. This attempts to control the relationship by limiting your outside support system.

Threatening Behavior

Sometimes emotional abusers use threats to gain control over their partner. This can range from threats of physical harm to threats of abandonment. Threats are a sign that your partner is trying to exert power and control over you and should not be taken lightly.

Seeking Help

If you suspect emotional abuse in your marriage, you must seek help immediately. Help is especially needed when you’re feeling helpless or scared in the

Taking Legal Actions

An emotionally abusive marriage can be complicated to leave. In some cases, taking legal action to protect yourself and your family may be necessary. Here are the steps you can take:

Obtain a Restraining Order

If you are in immediate danger, contact the police and get a restraining order. A restraining order is a legal document requiring your abuser to stay away from you, your home, and/or your place of work. This will protect you from further abuse by your partner and can provide a sense of safety and security.

File for a Divorce

It will come to the point that you’ve had enough of the abuse and will decide to file for a divorce. To do so, contact a divorce attorney who can help you. They will provide legal advice and representation to protect your rights throughout the divorce proceedings.

Take Care of Yourself

It’s also important that you prioritize your well-being during this time. When you finally dare to leave, you must focus on yourself and your healing. Here are tips to help you cope:

Practice self-care by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and engaging in relaxation techniques.

Recognizing signs of emotional abuse and protecting yourself is key in marriage. It’s important to remember that you are not alone, and resources are available to help you through this difficult time. With the right support and guidance, you can reclaim your power and create a healthier relationship with yourself and your partner.


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