Emotional Abuse: “Walking on Eggshells”

In my experience, emotional abuse is largely, sometimes intentionally, ignored. The same could probably be said for verbal abuse, as the two are so similar.

Abuse which uses words more than actions is easier to overlook. There are no visible bruises. I spent a year in an abusive relationship and, typically, emotional abuse was the culprit. However, I didn’t know that it was “abuse”. And as the depression grew and the panic attacks strengthened, I believed what everyone else did – there was something wrong with me. I was losing my mind. I should be able to just “snap out of it”.

Emotional abuse leaves bruises. But since they’re unseen, it’s easier for the abuser to write accusations off with the claim, “That’s nothing. She’s just taking things too seriously. She’s way too emotional. She’s losing it.”

It was actually a relief when I finally realized it wasn’t me. It was him. It was the constant manipulation, the biting remarks and off-hand insults, that controlling superiority.

So…one minute he’s telling you that you’re sexy and next he’s telling you that you should really join Weight Watchers? Meanwhile, you’re anorexic from the stress of the relationship. At first he said he liked how independent you were and now he claims the right to tell you what to think, feel, do.

That’s abuse. It’s treatment that no one deserves.

Granted, people say stupid things in relationships. Even the best relationship will involve those moments where you say something hurtful out of anger or hurt or frustration, only to regret it later. In an emotionally abusive relationship, that behavior is constant.

The University of Michigan describes emotional abuse in the following ways:

Emotional Abuse

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional Abuse is any behavior used to control and mistreat another person.

Many people believe if they’re not being physically hurt by their partner, they’re not being abused. This is not true.
If  you are being treated in a way that makes you upset, ashamed or embarrassed, you may be experiencing emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse follows a pattern; it happens over and over.

If your partner

  • says mean things to you
  • doesn’t let you make decisions
  • threatens you
  • keeps you away from friends, family  and co-workers
  • ignores your feelings
  • puts you down
  • calls you names
  • insults you
  • keeps you from sleeping
  • does things that make you feel crazy
  • tells you and others that you’re crazy
  • tells you your decisions are bad

this is emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse goes with other forms of abuse but may also happen on its own.

If you’ve ever been told anything like this by your partner:

“You’re so stupid!’

“Nobody else would ever want you.”

“You look disgusting.”

“You always twist things around.”

“I don’t know why I put up with you!”

“You’ll never be good enough to do that.”

“You’re crazy!”

this is emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse …

  • does not get better over time. It only gets worse.
  • can be more hurtful than physical abuse.
  • can make you feel afraid, vulnerable, powerless and isolated.

can cause:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • constant headaches
  • back, leg, arm and stomach problems

Living with verbal abuse such as

  • blaming,
  • ridiculing,
  • insulting,
  • swearing,
  • yelling,
  • threatening, and/or
  • shaming

can lower your self-respect and make you feel useless and worthless.

The link below will take you to a quiz which could be extremely helpful in determining if you are “walking on eggshells” in your relationship.

Link to Compassion Power: “Walking on Eggshells” Quiz



6 thoughts on “Emotional Abuse: “Walking on Eggshells”

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  3. Hi there, I’m writing an article on emotional abuse and wondered if I could quote some of your above story as example of what this type of behaviour consists of? Let me know, thanks. Viola

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