What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is when someone plays with your emotions to make you feel bad about yourself, or your relationship with them.

How do I know if I'm in an emotionally abusive relationship?

Emotional abuse will make you feel terrible in the long-term. If you are being emotionally abused, you might be feeling depressed, anxious, feel like hurting yourself, or hurting others.

You might have a hard time standing up to your abusers because they are most likely close to you. In many cases, it is only people who are close to you who can make you feel bad emotionally.

If you or someone you know is dealing with emotional abuse, talk to someone you trust, like a close friend or relative. There are professional youth counsellors and help phone lines that can offer you non-judgemental counselling.

What are some examples of emotional abuse?

It’s hard to tell when emotional abuse is happening to you. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse may take awhile before you realize what is happening, and that it is making you feel bad.

Some examples are:

  • Keeping you isolated from others – “She gets mad at me when I spend time with other people”
  • Being made fun of and criticized – “You’re so stupid, I can’t believe you didn’t understand that”
  • Ignoring your needs
  • Threatening you – “I will break your computer if you don’t come back here!”
  • Manipulating and blackmailing you – “If you go don’t go out with me, I will tell your Dad that you’re dating someone”

How do I stop my abuser without getting them in trouble?

Do whatever you feel comfortable doing about the situation. You are the only one who knows your situation best. You can make the best decision about how to stop your abuser.

Some steps you can take are:

  • Talk to your abuser about the problem. This might be really hard. They should know that what they are doing is wrong. Even if they deny their actions, you let them know how you feel.
  • Set boundaries for the relationship. Let the abuser know that there is only so much you can take. If they continue to make you feel terrible, tell them that you will leave (and mean it).
  • If you are dating someone who keeps abusing you, leaving is the best thing you can do for yourself.
  • If you live in an abusive home, tell an adult you trust. This can be a teacher or friend’s parent who can help.

You can also get help here:

  • Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868
  • Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 1-866-863-0511 or at 1-866-863-7868 (TTY, teletype for people who are hard of hearing).

How can a Safety Plan protect me?

A safety plan (or, escape plan) is a plan you make to protect yourself against abuse. To make a safety plan, think of people you can call to talk to, or places you can go, if you need space from your abuser.

Creating a safety plan by yourself can be hard. Think about asking a counsellor or a friend to help you make a plan and use the resources below: