Psychological Abuse

What is Psychological Abuse?

Psychological abuse (sometimes referred to as emotional abuse) is common, but too few people understand the definition of this well enough to spot it at an early stage, and therefore prevent this from becoming worse. Without the visible signs of physical abuse, psychological abuse can stay hidden for years. Psychological abuse may start small at first and build into something that can be frightening and threatening.

Spotting the Signs of Psychological Abuse

  • Exclusion from meaningful events or activities
  • Ignoring, imitating or mocking the person
  • Insulting or isolating the person
  • Name calling
  • Swearing or yelling
  • Threatening the person or threatening to take away something that is important.

It’s important to remember that any of these examples of psychological abuse can happen to either a man or a woman.

Coercive control is often prevalent in domestic abuse cases. This is a form of psychological abuse is a recognised criminal offence. To learn more about this type of abuse, read Domestic Abuse

What is Stalking?

Stalking is classed as any behaviour from another person which is persistent, unwanted and harassing; anything that causes you any kind of fear or anxiety. Some examples can include; unwanted or malicious communications, unwanted attention, watching or following someone or loitering where the person frequents, monitoring usage of someone’s internet, email or other electronic communications, damaging a person’s property. 

In the majority of stalking cases the victim will know the stalker (such as a partner or ex-partner for example), however there have been cases where the victim does not know the offender.

In some cases stalking can escalate to physical abuse. If you feel that you are a victim of stalking or harassment you should contact the Police.


Psychological abuse can be damaging, and often taps into earlier patterns in a person’s life. It is important that adults seek help and support to prevent the abuse from becoming entrenched. Acknowledging that a relationship is abusive can be a useful call to action.

Barriers to seeking help may arise from the emotional and psychological impact of domestic abuse, as well as practical, social or cultural reasons. Many are also similar to those preventing people from seeking help about other safeguarding issues. 

They may include:

  • Fear of the abuser and/or what they will do
  • Lack of knowledge/access to support services
  • Lack of resources, financial or otherwise
  • Love, loyalty or emotional attachment towards the abuser
  • Feelings of shame or failure
  • Pressure from family/children/community/ friends
  • Religious or cultural expectations.

Report Abuse

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