At the law office of Horton, Ballard & Pemerton PLLC, we know that few marital issues are as complicated and heartbreaking as domestic abuse. When the topic of spousal abuse arises, many Tennessee residents will automatically think of domestic violence. However, as you may know, a person does not have to be physically harmed to qualify as a victim of abuse. Abuse can come in many forms, including psychological, emotional and verbal.

Abuse that is not physical in nature can be difficult to identify and just as hard to escape from. Additionally, emotional and psychological abuse can be extremely damaging – in fact, victims are left with emotional scars that can last a lifetime. You may wonder how to recognize emotional abuse. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, some of the signs of psychological, verbal and emotional abuse include the following:

  • Yelling, belittling, insulting and undermining the victim’s confidence
  • Making the victim feel like he or she is crazy or that the abuse is all in his or her head
  • Isolating the victim from supportive family members, friends and associates
  • Making hurtful jokes at the victim’s expense and then claiming that he or she was only teasing and the victim is too sensitive
  • Claiming to be the one who is hurt and victimized when the victim defends himself or herself

It is not unusual in an emotionally abusive relationship to constantly fear upsetting or angering your abuser at the smallest slight, or to be made to feel that his or her behavior is all your fault and that the abuse will stop if you just try harder. It is important to understand that psychological abuse is not your fault. In fact, this is a tactic your abuser uses to keep you under control. As our page on divorce explains, it is often necessary to enlist help from experienced allies to end an unhappy relationship. This is especially true when any kind of abuse is involved.