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Signs of Psychological Abuse



Most people know what to look for with physical abuse – unexplained bruises or injuries, withdrawn or anxious behavior, personality changes or depression, to name a few – but it can be so much more difficult to isolate the symptoms of psychological abuse.

Psychological abuse can take place alongside physical abuse, or separately, but can be just as damaging to a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Whether it is happening within a relationship, friendship, family, or a work environment, psychological abuse can be difficult to pinpoint.


Behavior an Abusive Partner Can Show

Someone who is psychologically abusive may engage in the following behavior toward his or her partner, whether it’s in public or at home:

  • Humiliates or yells
  • Criticizes
  • Threatens to leave regularly
  • Ignores partner’s opinions or accomplishments
  • Intimidates
  • Controls
  • Blames
  • Treats partner like property or a sex object
  • Acts jealous of anyone partner interacts with
  • Limits partner’s access to money, phone, car, family or friends
  • Threatens to hurt partner and/or their children
  • Destroys partner’s belongings
  • Forces partner to have sex


Behavior an Abused Person Might Show

Someone who’s being abused by his or her partner might show the following signs:

  • Doesn’t act the same way as he or she did before the partner
  • Acts timid
  • Shows a loss of self-confidence
  • Thinks he or she should be happier
  • Has anxiety about seeming crazy
  • Has a desire to escape
  • Distrusts family or friends
  • Acts emotionally numb
  • Is afraid
  • Avoids certain conversation topics
  • Thinks relationship problems are his or her fault


If you or anyone you know is suffering from physical or psychological abuse it is important to seek help. Even if the situation seems minor. No amount of physical or psychological abuse is ever okay.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE

National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE


*Information obtained from


*More information on Domestic Violence