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Domestic Violence

Patterns of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse always accompanies, and in most cases precedes, physical battering. Targeted, repeated emotional abuse can severely affect the victim's sense of self and of reality. Here is a list of emotionally abusive behaviors abusers use against their partners:

  • Abuser makes hostile jokes about the habits and faults of women

  • Ignores the victim's feelings

  • Withholds approval as a form of punishment

  • Yells at the victim

  • Labels the victim with generally insulting terms: crazy, bitch, stupid

  • Repeatedly delivers a series of insults specific to the victim and designed to inflict maximum psychological damage
  • Repeatedly humiliates the victim in front of family members and others

  • Isolates the victim socially, perhaps geographically as well (for example, by moving the family to a remote location)

  • Blames the victim for all the abuser's troubles and failures

  • Threatens physical violence and retaliation against the victim, children or other family members

  • Puts down the victim's abilities as a mother, lover, worker, etc

  • Demands all the victim's attention and resents the children
  • Tells the victim about his sexual affairs

  • Constantly accuses her of having affairs, even when she does not have the desire or freedom to have affairs

  • Gives the victim the "silent treatment"

  • Threatens to abuse the children and/or get custody of them

  • Tells the victim she must stay with him because she needs him and she couldn't make it without him

  • Accuses the victim of being violent if she acts in any way to protect herself
  • Questions her sense of reality

  • Forces economic dependency: He prevents the victim from working - either by forbidding her to get a job or by making her life so chaotic that she gets fired - and/or he takes her money

  • Puts down or denies the victim's history, heritage, faith, values

  • Hits the wall, not her, to display his power

  • Breaks personal items that have sentimental value to her as a message that he can break her too
  • Threatens, tortures or kills her/their pets

  • Threatens suicide if the victim doesn't stay with him or do what he wants

  • Spends hours cleaning guns or knives in front of the victim

  • Threatens to kill her or her children

  • Destroys victim's self esteem

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