Psychological 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.
Signs and symptoms include:
- 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.
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.