How to Stop Emotional Abuse

Опубликовал Admin
16-12-2019, 16:00
Updated: December 15, 2019 Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. If you’re in a cycle of abuse, it’s normal to feel a lot of negative emotions. You can learn to shut down abuse by standing up for yourself in the moment and looking for positive ways to interact with the person abusing you, such as talking about something else. If the situation doesn’t change, you can also plan how to safely remove yourself from the relationship. If you are the person doing the abusing, it's great that you want to make a change. That's a big step in the right direction. One option is to seek professional help to learn to change your behavior.

Coping with Abuse

  1. Recognize the signs of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse might be harder to identify than physical abuse. But if you think something is wrong with the way you’re being treated, you’re probably right. Remember that no one has the right to make you feel bad or treat you poorly in any way. It’s not your fault. Signs to look out for include:
    • Constant criticism
    • Name calling
    • Humiliation
    • Exerting financial control
    • Issuing ultimatums
    • Shaming or blaming
  2. Stand up for yourself in the moment. It can be really difficult but try to shut the abuse down as it is happening. Let the other person know that it is not okay to speak to you that way. Aim to speak in a clear, confident voice. It might be hard, but try to make eye contact as you tell them to stop speaking to you the way they are.
    • You could say, “Please don’t talk to me like that. Maybe we can talk later when you are calm.”
    • You can also try using “I statements” such as, “I feel bad when you say things like that. I don’t deserve to be treated like this.” Using "I statements" is a good idea because it can prevent the other person from feeling defensive.
  3. Walk away from the situation if possible. If the person is still saying negative things, you can try walking away from the situation. For example, if you're at home, you could go take a walk around the block. If you're at work, excuse yourself to go to the restroom. Hopefully, by the time you return, the other person will have moved on to a new topic or behavior.
    • You can say something like, "I need a few minutes by myself" or even, "There's something I need to take care of. Please excuse me."
    • Walking away can also give you time to collect yourself. It's really stressful to be abused, so it can really help to take some calming breaths and let your heart rate slow down.
    • Walk away for however long you need to. It can be a few minutes or longer.
  4. Put yourself in the abuser’s shoes. This doesn’t mean that you need to excuse the abusive behavior in any way. But trying to understand where the other person is coming from can help you remember that the abuse is about them, not you. You might think to yourself, "I know they are really upset about their mom being sick. That doesn't make the behavior okay, but I know they are taking out their frustrations on me. This is not personal."
    • Maybe your partner is dealing with depression or anxiety. That doesn’t make it right for them to abuse you, but acknowledging their situation can help you understand and process the situation.
  5. Look for positive ways to interact with the person. If someone is always putting you down, try to find a neutral way to interact with them. For example, if you have a co-worker who always criticizes your ideas, try changing the subject. Instead of responding to the abuse, say “Hey, how was your vacation last week?”
    • This might seem like you’re ignoring or validating the abuse. In reality, it’s a good way to stop the abuse in the moment and continue on with your day.
    • This typically will be most effective in a work or social setting. If it is a family member or partner who is abusing you, you’ll want to try other methods, too.
    • If emotional abuse at work is persistent, speak to your manager or HR.
  6. Reduce stress to help yourself cope. Stress can take its toll on you, emotionally and physically. It might seem really hard, but if you can lessen your stress, it might be easier to deal with the emotional abuse. To reduce stress, try:
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Deep breathing
    • Regular physical exercise
    • Getting enough sleep

Getting Support and Ending Emotional Abuse

  1. Ask your friends and family for support. It can be really difficult if someone you’re close to is the one abusing you. If it is a family member or partner, it can feel awful. This is hard, so lean on family and friends. Choose someone who you trust and tell them what you’ve been going through. They might be able to give you some advice, especially if they also know the other person.
    • You could say to your sister, "I'm having a really tough time with Taylor lately. They seem angry all the time and keep saying it's my fault. This is hard for me to talk about, but I wondered if you could listen and offer me some advice?"
    • You can share as much or as little as you want. You can also just ask someone to spend some time doing something fun with you, like going to a movie.
    • They can also just lend you a shoulder to lean on. It can make you feel better if you know that someone is in your corner.
  2. Visit a therapist to get professional help. It’s totally normal if you are coping with depression or anxiety as a result of emotional abuse. You’re not alone! Fortunately, a professional can offer you a lot of support. It’s also really helpful to have a safe space to talk about your emotions.
    • Consider couples counseling or family counseling with the other person, if they’re willing. You might be able to find new, healthy ways to communicate.
  3. Call a helpline to get information. There are a lot of support systems available to help you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, you can call a hotline to get some support. The staffers or volunteers will be specially trained to help someone in your position.
    • Do a quick online search for a hotline in the country where you live.
    • In the US, call 1-800-799-7233
    • In Canada, call 1-866-661-3311
    • In the UK, call 0808 80 200 28
    • There are also helplines that offer text chats and online chats, as well.
  4. Make a safety plan. If you are worried that the abuse might escalate or that you simply can’t cope with being yelled at anymore, make a plan so that you’re ready to leave your home quickly. You might feel more secure if you know that you have a plan in place. Consider having:
    • Emergency funds in an account that only you have access to
    • All of your important papers (ID, passport, etc.) all together in a secure place
    • Your phone fully charged at all times
    • Somewhere you can go at a moment's notice, like a friend or family member’s house
  5. End the relationship if the abuse is severe. It’s possible to love your abuser and to know that you shouldn’t be around them. This is a really hard thing to go through. However, if the abuse doesn’t stop, you might need to end the relationship. You can explain that you don’t think the relationship is healthy and that you no longer want to be part of it.
    • If you live with the abuser, make sure that you have a plan in place before you end the relationship. For example, have your new living situation already arranged.
    • Allow yourself to grieve the relationship. While you made the right choice, you’ll still need time to process a wide range of emotions. Be patient and kind to yourself.

Stopping Your Own Abusive Behaviors

  1. Be more compassionate to yourself to change how you treat others. If you find yourself yelling at, shaming, or criticizing someone else, you might want to find ways to stop this behavior. Typically, emotional abuse comes from some sort of resentment that you are feeling. The best way to handle this is to be more compassionate to yourself. This will help you understand how others want you to treat them.
    • Stop criticizing yourself. If you have negative thoughts about yourself, replace them with positive ones. Do the same when you find yourself criticizing someone else.
  2. Stop rationalizing your behavior. Although there might be reasons behind your abusive behavior, that doesn’t excuse it. You are responsible for your own actions. Instead of making excuses for yourself, acknowledge that your actions are not acceptable.
    • For example, if you find yourself isolating someone from others, take a step back. Say to yourself, “This is not okay. I need to find a more positive way to interact with this person.”
  3. Get sober if you abuse substances. Drug and alcohol abuse are often related to emotional abuse. Both can cause you to be more emotional and volatile. If you drink alcohol, try limiting yourself to 1 drink a day. This will make it easier to stay in control of your emotions. You should stop using drugs and alcohol if they are impacting your behavior. Drugs are unhealthy for a lot of reasons, so quitting is the best plan.
    • It can be really hard to quit. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. There are support lines and mental health professionals who can help you.
    • Avoid situations where you might be offered alcohol or drugs.
  4. Look for positive ways to interact with the person you abuse. This can help you see that person in a better light. If you are abusing someone at work, ask them to go to lunch with you outside of the office. Getting to know them might help you to be nicer to them.
    • If you are abusing a loved one, make it a point to look for ways to have fun with them. For example, if you and your spouse regularly fight about how to raise your kids, do something on your own to shift the focus back to the positive part of your relationship.
  5. Seek professional help to learn ways to change. Try going to counseling to help figure out how to behave differently. Talking through your situation can be a great way to learn some coping mechanisms. Maybe you're dealing with a lot of stress or anger. A professional can help you learn to process your emotions in a more healthy way.
    • Ask your doctor or friends or family for a recommendation to a therapist.
    • If possible, try a joint session with the person that you are acting negatively towards. You can hopefully find new ways to communicate.


  • Speak up for yourself, if you can. Remember that no one has the right to treat you in a negative way.
  • Practice self-care. You’ll be better able to cope if you are kind to yourself.


  • End the relationship if it is toxic or you fear the abuse might become physical. Be ready to call the authorities if you don’t feel safe.
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