13 julio, 2024

Psychological abuse: symptoms, types, consequences, how to overcome it

He psychological abuse It is a type of abuse that is characterized by the presence of actions and behaviors that can end up creating emotional trauma in the victim. Despite not being as visible as physical abuse, its consequences are no less real: among the most common effects are anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Also known as emotional abuse, psychological abuse is generally considered to occur almost always in situations where there is a difference of power within a relationship. This can be of many different types, from the one between a boss and his subordinates to the dynamic that occurs within a couple.

Among the actions carried out by those who use psychological abuse, we find some such as bullying, gaslighting or denial of evidence, insults, disrespect and attempts to control. Sometimes this type of abuse is also accompanied by other purely physical attacks, although this is not something that always happens.

Psychological abuse is not as visible as physical abuse, but the negative consequences it causes in those who suffer it are also very real. Due to this, it is necessary to make the population aware of what behaviors are typical of this type of abuse, and what can be done when it appears.


Types of psychological abuse

Behaviors related to psychological abuse are surprisingly similar in all areas in which it occurs. However, in order to correctly identify this phenomenon, it is necessary to understand where it is most likely to occur and what forms it takes in each case.

Next we will see what are the main types of emotional abuse that exist depending on the area in which they appear.


Family abuse is known as all those continuous aggressions that occur within the scope of the family unit. This concept is very broad, and encompasses all the abusive relationships that occur in this context regardless of who the aggressors or the victims are.

Thus, within family psychological abuse we can find situations in which parents mentally abuse their children; but also others in which the aggressors are children, grandparents or any other member of the home.


Although there are more types of family abuse, in families emotional abuse usually occurs from parents to children due to the difference in power that exists between them. In this case, psychological abuse translates into a series of behaviors that can greatly damage the emotional, social, psychological and cognitive development of children.

There are different reasons why psychological abuse between parents and children can appear. Some parents do it because they have their own psychological problems. Others are simply reproducing the behavior patterns they observed in their own relatives, or simply do not have the necessary knowledge to act as good caregivers for their children.

In this area, psychological abuse translates into behaviors such as insults, lack of respect, the presence of extremely strict rules, contempt, and prohibitions of all kinds. Due to the importance that parents have in the development of children, this can cause very severe consequences in their lives.

in the couple

One of the areas in which it is most common for cases of psychological abuse to occur is that of the couple. Despite the fact that physical violence is much more visible in this area, the truth is that most cases of abuse occur without physical attacks being involved.

Many of the cases of partner abuse occur due to a series of irrational beliefs about couples and love. This usually causes behaviors that end up causing psychological problems in the victims, such as insults, control behaviors, constant belittlement and lack of respect.

At work

Psychological abuse in the workplace is commonly known as mobbing. As in other areas, it can occur between people with different positions and roles within a company, such as between employees, or from a boss to his subordinates.

Emotional bullying at work is one of the main problems in today’s world of work, as it can end up causing difficulties such as anxiety, stress, depression syndrome, burnout and depression. In addition, it has been proven that the quality of life of those affected is greatly reduced.

structural abuse

The aggressor exercises a certain power over the victim, based on a supposed inequality where he is superior.

Uses phrases that devalue the victim, makes important decisions without consulting, reminds them of all their mistakes, tells them that they know how to do things better, or says things such as «this is so because I said so», does not commit to doing anything by the victim, forces him to have sex and is angry when the victim refuses.


It occurs when the abuser denies the presence or value of the victim. He tells her that she or he is inferior, devaluing her thoughts and feelings.


The aggressor ridicules the victim, using nicknames, imitations or other aggressive expressions. In this way, it manages to diminish the dignity of the other person, negatively affecting their sense of identity.

Shouting, obscene words, humiliation in public and the use of disqualifying adjectives are some of the expressions of this type of abuse.

Economic or financial abuse

The abuser strictly controls the financial resources of the victim. He watches over his income, asks for explanations even for the smallest expenses, does not allow him to work, forces him to ask for loans, does not allow him to handle money, etc.

spiritual abuse

It involves ridiculing the victim’s beliefs.

Many times the aggressor forces her to accept hers as her own and does not allow her to act according to her ideals.

social abuse

It happens when the aggressor prevents the victim from contacting friends and family, does not allow him to attend social activities, checks his messages and calls on the mobile phone, spies on conversations, etc.

Main symptoms of psychological abuse

To find out if you are being a victim of psychological abuse, ask yourself if you feel that the aggressor shows the following signs/symptoms. Although it is usually more common from men to women, it also occurs from women to men.

control your life

Always try to know where you are, what you are doing and who you are with. It’s like he wants to run every aspect of your life.

Devalue your opinions or feelings

It does not take into account your opinions or how you feel when making decisions.

He tells you that he treats you like this because he loves you

Psychological abusers often use this justification to manipulate the victim.

He says you’re lucky to have him by your side

It is another form of justification. They try to convince the victim that only he will take care of her, so that she does not abandon him and can continue with her abusive behavior.

Doesn’t let you see your friends or family

This is one of the worst acts of abusers. Some do it so that the victim’s family or friends do not convince her that it is not convenient for her to be with the abuser.

Tells you how you should dress

Some abusers are jealous and want to control the way their partners dress as well.

Check calls and messages on your smartphone

This is a consequence of the constant control that the abuser has over the victim.

It does not encourage you or estimate your goals

Abusers do not usually estimate their partners, much less encourage them to achieve the goals they set for themselves.

Does not let you study or work

The abuser usually wants to feel superior to his partner. It can be threatening for your partner to gain independence with a job.

He speaks to you in a bad way, with violent shouts or gestures, slamming doors, etc.

This is verbal violence and although it is not always linked to psychological abuse, sometimes it also occurs and can make the situation worse.

Strictly control the money you receive or the expenses you make

It is a specific form of control, another form of independence of the victim is eliminated


Threats can take many forms and it is another form of control.

blames you for things that go wrong

Because abusers often lack a sense of responsibility, they may constantly blame their victims for their misfortunes.


Emotional blackmail is another form of control, and it can be very subtle.

Apologizes but does not correct his behavior

A vital problem in psychological abuse is that victims often believe their partners when they tell them they will change, although this is often not the case.

You fear their way of reacting

If you don’t communicate with your partner because you fear that they will react violently, it is really worrying. Violent reactions can be a way to control the victim.

They try to make you see that if you display behavior they don’t like, they will react in a negative and unpleasant way.

You have lost interest in life

In a situation of psychological abuse, it is normal for the mood to drop and the victim to lose interest in things that previously interested him.

you don’t want to come home

Victims of abuse may constantly feel a desire to leave and not return home, but stay because they have no other choice or have children.


Anxiety is a common symptom in victims. They become overactive due to the violent situation in their homes.

trouble sleeping

It is a consequence of anxiety. To sleep it is necessary to be relaxed and try to avoid worries.

Low self-esteem

Not valuing themselves is something common in abused people. They believe that because someone else does not value them they are not valuable in general.

constant criticism

Criticism can be good when it is constructive, but criticism from abusers is often hurtful, personal, and destructive.


It is one of the worst feelings to deal with that victims can have if they do not perceive that the abusers are trying to manipulate them in this way.

Threaten you with suicide

We have discussed the threats before, although this one deserves a separate section. Abusers may threaten suicide and in some cases may follow through on what they say. You do not have to accept their mistreatment, and for this reason it is important to ask for private professional help or social services.

exaggerated jealousy

Abusers, being controlling, are also often jealous and often for no reason.

provocative behavior with others

Some abusers may display provocative behavior with members of the opposite sex.

refuse to communicate

In order not to change the situation and to continue to control the victim, the abusers may flatly refuse to talk about the problems.

They use sarcasm

Sarcasm can be hurtful if it is directed at particular people and in psychological abuse this is usually the case. HE…

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