Emotional abuse is domestic violence, and it is a crime. Several institutions and organizations offer victims of emotional abuse or any other type of domestic violence support.

People may think domestic violence only includes physical abuse. However, it also encompasses much more than physical violence. Domestic violence includes any form of abuse, including emotional abuse, financial abuse, mental abuse, and stalking.

These types of abuse are a crime, and they are not less serious or dangerous than physical violence.

This article will review emotional abuse, its signs and effects, the other types of domestic violence, and how people can get the support they need.

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Emotional abuse is domestic violence. Domestic violence includes any pattern of behavior that a person may use to gain or maintain power and control over their intimate partner. Any behavior that aims to intimidate, manipulate, or humiliate a person is domestic violence.

Emotional abuse can occur in people in marriages, living together, or dating. Any person can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, education level, or socioeconomic background.

Emotional abuse is the most prevalent type of domestic violence. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s 2020 report, 96% of the calls their operators answered involved verbal and emotional abuse.

Learn more about emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse includes a variety of behaviors that can help a person manipulate and force their intimate partner to think they are not worthy of love, have no value, or have no way out of a relationship. Emotional abuse typically includes behaviors and statements that can threaten and help isolate or control a person.


Some common forms of emotional abuse may include:

  • threats directed to the victim or their children, pets, and loved ones
  • name-calling
  • ignoring partner’s needs or feelings
  • monitoring actions and behaviors of a partner, both online or in person
  • threats of leaving the victim
  • excessive jealousy, including toward family members and friends
  • public or private embarrassment or humiliation
  • threats of taking the victim’s children
  • intimidation
  • threats of suicide

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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Emotional abuse can have several serious effects on its victims and their children, in particular when they witness or are themselves victims of abuse. Emotional abuse can have long-term self-esteem and several psychological complications.

People who are victims of emotional abuse may find it difficult to manage and regulate their emotions in the future or to develop healthy relationships with other people. Emotional abuse may also lead to several health conditions and complications, such as:

Emotional abuse may occur without physical abuse, which can also make it more difficult for a victim to talk about it with their loved ones because of the fear of not being believed. Victims of emotional abuse may also find it difficult to trust their own intuition and feelings.

Domestic violence includes several types of abuse, such as:

  • Physical abuse: This refers to when a person uses physical violence to threaten and control their partner.
  • Reproductive abuse and coercion: This is a person trying to control their partner’s reproductive choices to control their lives.
  • Financial abuse: Stealing money, withholding money, restricting the use of finances to a partner, or using their credit cards without permission is a form of abuse.
  • Stalking: This consists of having a pattern of behaviors that aims to cause fear to another person, such as receiving multiple calls, finding a parcel on the doorstep, or showing up at the workplace of the victim. People can also stalk other people by using the internet or technology devices, known as cyberstalking.
  • Litigation abuse: Sometimes, abusers may keep filing repeated petitions or motions against the partner they separated from to keep control of their lives using the court system to harass the victim.
  • Sexual abuse: This refers to an abuser forcing their partner or any other person to have sexual intercourse with them without consent.

Several organizations can provide help and support to people who are victims of emotional abuse or any other type of domestic violence, including:

  • Safe Shelter: They offer support to people who have encountered any type of domestic abuse, providing resources and legal support against domestic violence.
  • Critical Incident Stress Management Unit (CISMU): This offers help to people who believe they or their children may be experiencing any form of abuse or are in fear for their safety. CISMU also offers support in other languages for people who do not feel confident speaking English.
  • Crisis Text Line: The volunteers who work for this organization offer free counseling and support. To reach them, people can text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States. This service is available 24/7.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: Victims of domestic abuse can text or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline anytime. This organization offers support and resources to help survivors of domestic violence to help them live a life free from any form of domestic abuse.

Emotional abuse is a type of domestic violence. Emotional abuse consists of a pattern of behaviors that aim to make the victim feel unworthy of love, without value, or without a way out of their relationship. This can make a person feel threatened, and it can lower their self-esteem.

A person who receives emotional abuse may not experience any physical abuse, which can make it more difficult for them to report their partner to the authorities or their loved ones, as victims often think people will not believe them.

If a person experiences domestic violence, there are several organizations that offer help to survivors of every type of domestic abuse, including emotional abuse.