What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse (also called Psychological Abuse) is behaviour that has a harmful effect on the adult’s emotional health, well-being and development. It is the denial of a person’s human and civil rights including choice and opinion, privacy and dignity and being able to follow one’s own spiritual and cultural beliefs or sexual orientation.

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 orover who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

Examples of Emotional/Psychological Abuse include:

  • Threats of harm or abandonment;
  • Deprivation of contact;
  • Humiliation or blaming;
  • Controlling;
  • Intimidation;
  • Cyber bullying;
  • Coercion;
  • Indifference;
  • Harassment;
  • Verbal abuse (including shouting or swearing); and
  • Isolation or withdrawal from services or support networks.

Potential indicators of psychological abuse include:

  • Untypical ambivalence, deference, passivity, resignation anger and depression;
  • Person appears anxious or withdrawn, especially in the presence of the alleged abuser;
  • Person exhibits low self-esteem;
  • Untypical changes in behaviour (e.g. continence problems, sleep disturbance);
  • Person is not allowed visitors/phone calls;
  • Person is locked in a room/in their home;
  • Person is denied access to aids or equipment, (e.g. glasses, dentures, hearing aid, crutches, etc.);
  • Person’s access to personal hygiene and toilet is restricted;
  • Person’s movement is restricted by use of furniture or other equipment;
  • Bullying via social networking, internet sites and persistent texting.