Your partner has been calling you names for a few months. You don’t like it, and you’ve asked him to stop, but he just ignores you, laughs and calls you more names. Or maybe he manipulates you and plays emotional games, teasing you with hurtful jabs before doing an about-face, pretending like he’s joking. You think that since he’s not hurting you physically, his behavior is acceptable. But what if it’s not? What if he has already crossed the line into domestic violence?

Definition of Verbal and Emotional Abuse

The law defines domestic violence as continued abuse in an intimate-partner relationship, when one person tries to control the other. It might include mental, financial, sexual, emotional and physical mistreatment.

According to the federal government, verbal and emotional abuse technically constitutes domestic violence. Acts that isolate, control or scare you can affect your overall health and also presage future physical abuse.

Signs of Verbal and Emotional Abuse

•    Name calling
•    Constant criticism
•    Threats
•    Tearing you down
•    Yelling
•    Humiliates you in front of others
•    Using controlling statements, such as, “If I can’t have you, neither can anyone else.”
•    Blaming you for his or her actions
•    Shouting

Signs of emotional abuse include, but are not limited to, the following:

•    Controlling what you eat or wear
•    Constant monitoring of your activities
•    Questioning your faithfulness
•    Issuing false accusations
•    Using anger to intimidate you
•    Controlling money
•    Preventing or discouraging you from seeing friends or family
•    Using manipulative threats and blaming you for any actions
•    Making you quit school or work or attempting to keep you from going to school or work
•    Attacking your self-esteem or self-worth
•    Attacking abilities, such as cooking or house cleaning
•    Belittling you in front of your children.

Finding Help Fast

If you feel trapped in a relationship characterized by verbal or emotional abuse, call your local police station immediately, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).