What Is Emotional Abuse?

The founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, also called A Place of Hope, Dr. Gregg Jantz is a sought-after speaker and author who regularly shares his behavioral health expertise with prominent news networks, such as CNN and Fox. Throughout his career, Dr. Gregg Jantz has written more than a dozen books, including 2009’s Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse.

Emotional abuse does not leave physical scars but can result in low self-esteem, personality changes, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In an emotionally abusive relationship, one person attempts to dominate the other using any number of unhealthy behaviors. These can include humiliation and criticism, which the abuser may try to pass off as innocent teasing. Other common tactics are shame, in which one person tries to make the other feel inferior, and intimidation, in which threats of abandonment or violence are made.

An abuser may also try to control the other person with isolation, the silent treatment, or unreasonable demands. In most cases, the person doing the abusing denies any wrongdoing or blames the victim for this toxic behavior. The abuser also creates an environment that makes the victim feel dependent and afraid to leave. Emotional abuse is as traumatic as physical abuse and requires an individualized treatment program to ensure that the patient recovers fully with a healthy sense of self-worth.