Abuse within an intimate relationship doesn’t always involve physical violence. In some cases, abuse may be relegated to emotional or psychological trauma. Despite the lack of physical violence, this trauma can be just as damaging, and just as difficult to break away from. Healthline explains a few of the many signs of emotional abuse so you can easily recognize them in your own relationship or the relationship of a loved one. 

Constructive criticism comes from a place of genuine respect and understanding. This is not the case when an abuser is overly critical of his or her spouse. Jokes that only serve to humiliate a person are one aspect of emotional abuse. While it’s important to have a good sense of humor about yourself, abusers often use jokes to poke fun at a sensitive aspect of their partner’s character. Insults are also quite common in this case. Insults can involve you, the way you dress, the hobbies you love, the way you talk, and virtually any other area that is associated with you as a person.

People who are being emotionally abused are also privy to baseless accusations. An abuser may be projecting his or her own indiscretions when blaming a spouse for cheating or infidelity. They may also blatantly deny information they know to be true, which is known as gaslighting. When you bring up a topic you’re unhappy about, they’ll even accuse you over being too sensitive or claim that you’re overreacting to a minor issue. 

For a relationship to work, both people must be invested in the other person’s happiness. With abusive relationships, the abuser is primarily concerned with his or her own needs. As a result, they might prevent their spouse from seeing friends and family. They may also claim that you’re too needy or emotionally involved any time you turn to them for support. Regardless of the tactics an abuser uses, you must take the proper steps to save yourself and your sanity from an unhealthy relationship.