7 Phrases Emotionally Abusive Partners Use To Control Their Relationships_freckle removal procedure

Kelsey Borresen·8 min read
Look out for this toxic language from your partner.  (Photo: Kathleen Finlay via Getty Images)
Look out for this toxic language from your partner. (Photo: Kathleen Finlay via Getty Images)

There’s a subtlety to emotional abuse that makes it difficult to spot — not only for those looking in on the relationship from the outside, but also potentially for the victims themselves.

“Emotional abuse is insidious,” therapist Sharie Stines, who specializes in recovery from abuse, told HuffPost. “It’s often invisible. It’s frequently designed so that only the target knows she’s being abused, and on the surface, the abuser looks ‘normal.’”

Behaviors like gaslighting, criticizing, insulting, belittling, blaming, threatening, isolating and withholding affection or money can all be forms of emotional abuse. Abusers use these tactics and others to wear down their partner’s self-confidence and independence, allowing the perpetrator to gain and sustain power and control in the relationship.

Victims of emotional abuse are never validated, reassured, listened to or understood. They are left feeling lonely, confused, hurt, and insecure.Sharie Stines, therapist specializing in recovery from abuse

Abusive relationships don’t always begin this way, though. In fact, they may initially seem loving and caring, at least on the surface. During the early days of the relationship, the perpetrator uses grooming techniques, like charm, gifts and affection, to rope in the victim before pulling the rug out from under them.

“That ‘kindness’ is designed to win over the trust and confidence of an unsuspecting victim, making them vulnerable to subsequent abuse,” Lisa Ferentz, a licensed clinical social worker and educator specializing in trauma, previously told HuffPost.

Emotional abuse can eventually escalate into physical violence. And perpetrators who engage in abuse, be it physical or verbal, tend to utilize the same type of language.

Below, experts reveal some of the common phrases abusive partners use. (You can read about some of the behavioral warning signs in this post.)

1. “You’re too sensitive.”

Emotional abusers will try to dismiss your legitimate feelings about something hurtful they’ve done or said — say, insulting your cooking in front of friends, but claiming it was just a joke — by accusing you of being “too sensitive.”

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