When people think of abusive relationships, likely the first image that comes to mind is one spouse getting physical with the other. In fact, if an individual wishes to talk about abuse in his or her relationship, often the person they are attempting to confide in will specifically ask about physicality. However, there are multiple types of abuse that can go on inside of a marriage, and physical abuse is only one of them. Emotional abuse is often considered an “invisible” abuse because it leaves no marks. However, according to One Love, emotional abuse may include verbal aggression, manipulation, humiliation, and intimidation that becomes a pattern of behavior.
If you think that definition seems very broad, you would be correct. Many things fall under the umbrella of emotional abuse. For instance, extreme and constant sarcastic remarks used toward another can actually be considered emotional abuse. Of course, sarcasm is often used for humorous effect, but the difference is that with emotional abuse the sarcasm has a malicious bite to it.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that abuse is almost never a one-time event. Generally any type of abuse will escalate over time. The thing that is so insidious about emotional abuse is that it can paralyze you in a way that physical abuse often will not. You may find yourself even second-guessing that the abuse is happening in the first place. While most people agree that getting hit is abusive, many people wonder if sarcastic comments, even if those comments are hurtful actually count as abuse.
The reality is that they do. Keep your eyes open for emotional abuse patterns around you, both inside your own relationships and those of others.