Emotional abuse is still abuse

Delilah Alvarado

While violent abuse is becoming a more prevalent issue in society, emotional abuse is being ignored.

According to Break the Cycle, 57% of college students reported having been in an abusive dating relationship while in college. Due to that finding, it is important that college students recognize isolation, gaslighting and control as common signs of emotional abuse in order to prevent emotional abuse.

Although emotional abuse may not be visible, it causes long-term effects that can be damaging and can lead to violent abuse if it continues to go unrecognized.

Emotional abuse, although subtle, is manipulative.

Emotional abuse includes various types of bullying and controlling behaviors that negatively impact the victim in a relationship. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, emotional abuse can include threats and make one feel fearful of their abuser.

When a person notices physical violence, an outsider will say something or notify an appropriate source to prevent any more harm. But, 57% of college students report that emotional abuse is difficult to notice until the victim speaks out.

Once the victim brings attention to their emotional abuse, it may not sound like a big deal even though that is not the case. Millions of victims of domestic violence report their abuse, but not necessarily emotional abuse.

One sign of emotional abuse is isolation. It may seem like a friend or family member is just spending a lot of time with their significant other, but they are slowly being taken away from trusted ones in order to have control over the victim. If someone says their significant other is telling them they cannot interact with their family members, it is important to take it seriously and not brush it off.

Another sign of emotional abuse is gaslighting. Gaslighting causes the victim to question themselves and the abuser might make them feel “crazy.”

Victims may reach out to say their significant other constantly puts them down, tells them lies or makes up scenarios. The victim is not being sensitive or going through a hard time. They are experiencing emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse can last for years and can be as severe as mental and physical abuse. Victims of emotional abuse can suffer from anxiety, depression and insomnia. The psychological effects can last years after the victim has left the relationship. Psychological wounds can make it difficult to form new relationships and trust again.

In order to provide assistance to someone experiencing emotional abuse, one has to be open and a safe space for them to confide to. If the victim feels they are not being taken seriously, it will only further cause them to believe their abuser and prevent them from reaching out.

In addition, it is equally important to believe someone when they think they are getting emotionally abused. The consequences can be severe and have a detrimental impact on someone’s life.


People should learn the warning signs of emotional abuse, how to get help and help someone through it. This can be possible through hotlines, organizations and counseling centers.

Just because someone is nice to you, does not mean they act the same behind closed doors. Abusers do not deserve any more sympathy just because they might not have physically harmed their victims.

Emotional abuse needs to be taken just as seriously as physical abuse and not be ignored. The social awareness could prevent the problem the problem from becoming life-threatening.

– Delilah Alvarado is a journalism senior

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