Domestic Violence and Addiction  Domestic Violence Facts   Patterns of Domestic Violence    Psychological Abuse    Emotional Abuse   Narcissistic Cycle   30 Signs of Emotional Abuse  Resources   Medical Resources


Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

Physical Abuse

Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.

Sexual Abuse

Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional Abuse

Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.

Economic Abuse

Is defined as making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.

Psychological Abuse

Elements of psychological abuse include  – but are not limited to – causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.

Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life – therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society’s next generation of victims and abusers.


What, Exactly, Is Domestic Violence?

There’s actually a major lack of understanding as to what actually constitutes domestic violence. Many people assume that only physical harm can be considered domestic violence, but that’s not the case. By definition, domestic violence refers to physical or, the oftentimes overlooked, psychological abuse perpetrated by one person in a relationship or family unit to control the other(s). Specifically, there and many different acts that qualify as domestic violence, including name-calling, actual or threatened physical harm, stalking, intimidation, sexual assault, keeping someone isolated, either physically or emotionally, from their extra-familial relations, preventing someone from leaving the home, and withholding money.

Domestic Violence and Addiction

There is a heavy correlation between domestic violence and addiction. Both perpetrators and victims have high rates of substance use disorder or admit to abusing substances in the past year. It can also be very difficult for victims of domestic violence to seek help for their addiction. According to SAMHSA, more than 60% of women seeking drug or alcohol treatment claim their abuser tried to prevent them from going to treatment. Domestic violence and addiction are two complicated issues that often overlap.

Some statistics to help illustrate this fact include:

There are also many misconceptions about addiction which leads to stigmatization – creating hurdles to treatment. A common assumption is that those who are addicted are bad people. These stigmas not only make it difficult to fight the disease of addiction but also difficult to treat victims of domestic violence. With the current medical definition of addiction as a mental illness, it seems more helpful and productive to recognize that a person struggling with substance abuse as someone who is unwell.

This is this can be the case for both the victims and the perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. Victims often turn to drugs or alcohol to “numb” their pain as a coping mechanism, so the stigma of addiction can sometimes minimize their status as a victim. This should, by no means, excuse the aggressor in cases of domestic violence, but paint a more nuanced picture and identify the areas where change can occur.


The statistics on this page have been compiled from various sources.


On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.[i]
Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their< functioning.[ii]
Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of IPV that included rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.[iii]
1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.[iv]
IPV alone affects more than 12 million people each year.[v]
More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.[vi]
Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively).[vii]
Females ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.[viii]
From 1994 to 2010, about 4 in 5 victims of intimate partner violence were female.[ix]
Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49.[x]


Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) have been raped in their lifetime (by any perpetrator).[i]
Nearly 1 in 10 women in the United States (9.4%) have been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime.[ii]
81% of women who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short- or long-term impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and injury.[iii]
35% of men report such impacts of their experiences.[iv]
More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance.[v]
For male victims, more than half (52.4%) reported being raped by an acquaintance, and 15.1% by a stranger.[vi]
An estimated 13% of women and 6% of men have experienced sexual coercion in their lifetime (i.e. unwanted sexual penetration after being pressured in a nonphysical way). 27.2% of women and 11.7% of men have experienced unwanted sexual contact (by any perpetrator).[vii]


One in 6 women (16.2%) and 1 in 19 men (5.2%) in the United States have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed (by any perpetrator).[i]
Two-thirds (66.2%) of female victims of stalking were stalked by a current or former intimate partner.[ii]
Men were primarily stalked by an intimate partner or acquaintance (41.4% and 40%, respectively).[iii]
Repeatedly receiving unwanted telephone calls, voice, or text messages was the most commonly experienced stalking tactic for both female and male victims of stalking (78.8% for women and 75.9% for men).[iv]
An estimated 10.7% of women and 2.1% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.[v]


A child witnessed violence in 22% (nearly 1 in 4) of intimate partner violence cases filed in state courts. [i]
30 to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household. [ii]
There is a common link between domestic violence and child abuse. Among victims of child abuse, 40% report domestic violence in the home (from a WORLD REPORT).[iii]
One study in North America found that children who were exposed to violence in the home were 15 times more likely to be physically and/or sexually assaulted than the national average.[iv]
The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect suggests that domestic violence may be the single major precursor to child abuse and neglect fatalities in this country.[v]

[i] http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/2009/BJS10007.htm
[ii] https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/213503.pdf
[iii-v] http://www.unicef.org/protection/files/BehindClosedDoors.pdf


In a nationwide survey, 9.4% of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey.[i]
About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.[ii]
More than a quarter of male victims of completed rape (28%) were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger (by any perpetrator).[iii]
About 35% of women who were raped as minors also were raped as adults compared to 14% of women without an early rape history.[iv]
Most female victims of completed rape (79.6%) experienced their first rape before the age of 25; 42.2% experienced their first completed rape before the age of 18 years.[v]
One in 10 high school students has experienced physical violence from a dating partner in the past year.[vi]
Most female and male victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner (69% of female victims, 53% of male victims) experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before 25 years of age.[vii]
43% of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, tech, verbal or controlling abuse.[viii]
Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) college women say they have been in an abusive dating relationship.[ix]
52% of college women report knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, tech, verbal or controlling abuse.[x]
More than half (57%) of college students who report experiencing dating violence and abuse said it occurred in college.[xi]
58% of college students say they don’t know what to do to help someone who is a victim of dating abuse.[xii]
38% of college students say they don’t know how to get help for themselves if they were a victim of dating abuse.[xiii]
More than half of all college students (57%) say it is difficult to identify dating abuse.[xiv]
1 in 3 (36%) dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, email, or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.[xv]
1 in 5 college women has been verbally abused by a dating partner.[xvi]
1 in 6 (16%) college women has been sexually abused in a dating relationship.[xvii]
1 in 4 dating teens is abused or harassed online or through texts by their partners.[xviii]
Victims of digital abuse and harassment are 2 times as likely to be physically abused, 2.5 times as likely to be psychologically abused, and 5 times as likely to be sexually coerced.[xix]
Nearly 1 in 10 teens in relationships report to having a partner tamper with their social networking account (the most frequent form of harassment or abuse).[xx]
Only 1 in 5 victims say they experienced digital abuse or harassment at school and during school hours (most takes place away from school grounds).[xxi]
About 84% of victims are psychologically abused by their partners, half are physically abused, and one-third experiences sexual coercion.[xxii]
Only 4% experience digital abuse and harassment alone. So social media, texts, and e-mails don’t seem to invite new abuse, they just provide abusive partners with a new tool.[xxiii]

[i] http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teen_dating_violence.html
[ii] [vi] http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/datingmatters_flyer_2012-a.pdf
[iii-vii] http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_overview_insert_final-a.pdf
[viii-xvii] http://www.loveisrespect.org/pdf/College_Dating_And_Abuse_Final_Study.pdf
[xviii-xxiii] http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412750-teen-dating-abuse.pdf


Nearly 33% of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner.[i]
Nearly one in four large private industry establishments reported at least one incidence of domestic violence, including threats and assaults, in 2005.[ii]
A survey of American employees found that 44% of full-time employed adults personally experienced domestic violence’s effect in their workplaces, and 21% identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence.[iii]
64% of the respondents in a 2005 survey who identified themselves as victims of domestic violence indicated that their ability to work was affected by the violence. More than half of domestic violence victims (57%) said they were distracted, almost half (45%) feared getting discovered, and two in five were afraid of their intimate partner’s unexpected visit (either by phone or in person).[iv]
Nearly two in three corporate executives (63%) say that domestic violence is a major problem in our society and more than half (55%) cite its harmful impact on productivity in their companies.[v]
Nine in ten employees (91%) say that domestic violence has a negative impact on their company’s bottom line. Just 43% of corporate executives agree. Seven in ten corporate executives (71%) do not perceive domestic violence as a major issue at their company.[vi]
More than 70% of United States workplaces do not have a formal program or policy that addresses workplace violence.[vii]
Nearly 8 million days of paid work each year is lost due to domestic violence issues – the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs.[viii]
96% of domestic violence victims who are employed experience problems at work due to abuse.[ix]

[i] http://www.annalsofepidemiology.org/article/S1047-2797(12)00024-5/abstract
[ii] [vii] http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osnr0026.pdf
[iii-iv] http://www.caepv.org/getinfo/facts_stats.php?factsec=3
[v-vi] http://www.caepv.org/about/program_detail.php?refID=34
[viii] http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/ipv_cost/IPVBook-Final-Feb18.pdf
[ix] http://www.clicktoempower.org/domestic-violence-facts.aspx


Domestic abuse is a pattern of hurtful behavior used by one partner to systematically control and overpower the other.  There are varying forms of intimate partner violence and though the causal nature may be the same, the manifestation of it can look different in various relationships. Below is a list of the most common forms of domestic violence.  If any of this occurs in your relationship or that of someone you know, we encourage you to call PADV so that we can assist in safety planning.  No one deserves to be abused and victims are not responsible for their abusers’ poor behavior.

Battered Women’s Test

Economic Abuse

Economic abuse is the purposeful controlling of resources to make the victim financially limited. It can include:

  • Refusing to give you money for necessities
  • Making you ask for money rather than allowing you continual access
  • Forcing you to turn over money you’ve earned or spend it in a way that you disagree with
  • Refusing to support your children
  • Not letting you be involved in money decisions that affect you and/or your children
  • Interfering with or preventing your opportunities for education, job training and the ability to find and keep a job
  • Interfering with your work performance through harassing activities, such as frequent phone calls or unannounced visits
  • Stealing from you, defrauding your money or assets and/or exploiting your financial resources or property
  • Requiring you to use your credit in a way that you disagree with

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury or harm. It can include, but is not limited to:

  • Pushing, hitting, choking, kicking, biting, cutting, burning, spitting, shaking, slapping, pinching, force-feeding
  • Holding you down or preventing you from leaving the room
  • Throwing objects at you
  • Threatening you with a weapon
  • Locking you in or out of the house
  • Abandoning you in dangerous places
  • Preventing you from getting sleep or waking you up out of sleep
  • Denying help when you are sick, injured or pregnant
  • Endangering you by driving wildly or recklessly

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally, and/or to exert control over another person.  It can include:

  • Expressive Aggression
    • Name-calling
    • Putting you down by telling you that you’re stupid, dumb, fat, ugly, etc.
    • Intentionally humiliating you
    • Making fun of your beliefs
    • Degrading women as a group
    • Constantly criticizing you
    • Threatening to take your children
    • Threatening to sexually assault you
    • Threatening to hurt your family
    • Threatening to leave or make you leave
    • Making fun of your friends and family
    • Hurting your pets to upset you
    • Hurting your children to upset you
    • Ignoring your feelings
  • Coercive Control
    • Limiting your access to transportation, money, friends and family
    • Excessively monitoring your whereabouts
    • Refusing to use birth control
    • Insisting upon pregnancy termination
  • Exploitation
    • Leveraging your vulnerabilities, such as illegal immigration status, disability, etc.
  • Manipulation
    • Presenting false information to make you doubt your own memory or perception
    • Presenting false information to mislead others about you

Sexual Abuse

Sexual violence is any sort of non-consensual sexual contact.  It can include any of the following acts–whether merely attempted or fully completed.  These acts also qualify as sexual abuse if the victim is not entirely aware due to being voluntarily or involuntarily intoxicated or drugged:

  • Unwanted Penetration
    • Forcing you to have sex when you do not want to, whether with your partner or someone outside of the relationship
    • Forcing you to have sex after an argument or beating
    • Forcing you to have sex when you are pregnant or sick
  • Unwanted Sexual Experiences (with or without contact)
    • Unwanted exposure to sexual situations, such as pornography
    • Verbal or behavioral sexual harassment
    • Threatening sexual violence to accomplish some other end
    • Unwanted filming or photographing
    • Disseminating video or photographs of a sexual nature of another person
    • Criticizing your behavior during sex
    • Withholding sex and affection
    • Refusing to pay bills or take care of other basic needs until you have sex with him/her
    • Calling you a “whore” or any other demeaning names after sex
    • Accusing you of having sex with other women/men
    • Telling you and bragging about sex with other women/men
    • Checking your clothing for signs that you have had sex with someone
    • Insisting on unwanted or uncomfortable touching



Psychological abuse is also referred to as psychological violence, emotional abuse, or mental abuse. It is a form of abuse, characterized by a person subjecting, or exposing, another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychological abuse – Wikipedia

Psychological Abuse is common and yet few understand the psychological abuse definition enough to spot it. Without the visible signs of physical abuse, psychological abuse can stay hidden for years.

Psychological abuse, though, can be just as devastating as physical abuse. Psychological abuse can affect your inner thoughts and feelings as well as exert control over your life. You may feel uncertain of the world around you and unsafe in your own home. Psychological abuse can destroy intimate relationships, friendships and even your own relationship with yourself.

Psychological abuse also applies to children and may impair their development into a healthy adult.1

Psychological Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Psychological abuse signs and symptoms may start small at first as the abuser “tests the waters” to see what the other person will accept, but before long the psychological abuse builds into something that can be frightening and threatening.

Signs and symptoms of psychological abuse include:2

  • Name calling (Read about: Emotional Bullying)
  • Yelling
  • Insulting the person
  • Threatening the person or threatening to take away something that is important to them
  • Imitating or mocking the person
  • Swearing at them
  • Ignoring
  • Isolating the person
  • Excluding them from meaningful events or activities

Examples of Psychological Abuse

The signs of psychological abuse can be seen in many ways and can be manifested in many behaviors. According to Kelly Holly, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships Blog, examples of psychological abuse in a relationship include the following statements:3

  • You’re so cute when you try to concentrate! Look at her, man, she’s trying to think.
  • That isn’t at all what I meant. You’ll never understand how much I love you.
  • If you don’t train that dog I’m going to rub your nose in its mess.
  • I am more capable, smarter, and better educated than you. I will take our kids if you leave me.
  • Ohhhh…I’d love to smack you right now!

Moreover, Holly points out that psychological abuse can also include social, financial, spiritual and sexual components. Examples of these types of psychological abuse include:

  • Your body feels like spam.
  • Stop acting like such a whore. My friends are asking me if I let you behave that way when I’m around or if it’s just something you do on your own.
  • In what world does buying that make sense?
  • You handle the finances for now; I’ll step in when things go to hell.
  • How dare you spread around our personal family business!
  • Let me do the talking; people listen to men.
  • You took a vow in front of God and everybody and I expect you to honor it!
  • Keep your stupid beliefs to yourself; our children don’t need you to confuse them.
  • Women are to subjugate themselves to their husband in all ways.

It’s important to remember that any of these examples of psychological abuse can happen to either a man or a woman.

– See more at:  www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/psychological-abuse-definition-signs-and-symptoms

For those of you in an abusive relationship now, if possible, remove yourself from the person abusing you and move to a new location. Whether this is to an abuse shelter, a friend’s home, or your family’s place until you can recover and get back on your feet, this is your best chance of resiliency to a healthy, thriving mindset. Until you do, the abuse will continue regardless of the highs and lows of the relationship. As Kelly Jo Holly explains in her book, How to Recover From Emotional Trauma, when you are in a good place and are happy, your abuser loathes it. This is because you have regained your strength and are in a position to let go and move on. The abuser wants to always control you and the outcome of your relationship. The abuser despises the prospect of you leaving under any circumstances. As long as you are under the abuser’s power, there is no chance for you to recover or heal until you flee from the abuse.

Even so, by investing in yourself daily you can offer mental positive benefits that release slowly the negative tapes from the psychological trauma that has occurred in your life. Below are some steps that will assist in supporting that effort.

  • Making a visit to your doctor to check for depression or anxiety
  • Meditating (or using alternatives to meditation)
  • Educating yourself on all aspects of abuse
  • Detaching from your abuser
  • Calling a domestic violence hotline to vent
  • Filling out a domestic violence safety plan
  • Building a network of supportive friends (online too), family members, and local domestic violence programs that include support groups

When you have finally chosen to leave your abuser, which is a huge step toward recovery and healing, there are three key phases in place for you to engage in so your healing and recovery will take less time. These will provide you with a guide in knowing what to do when you are finally free to focus on you, so there is less anxiety and apprehension in recovery.

According to the Manitoba Trauma Information & Education Centre, the three stages of emotional trauma recovery are:

  1. Safety and Stabilization
  2. Remembrance and Mourning
  3. Reconnection and Integration

Feel free to read more on these three stages of recovery at the below website. There are also other sites listed on my resource page to assist you in your wellness and establishing recovery and healing, harmony, and light. I am happy to walk with you in seeking a renewal of the spirit, transformation, peace and tranquility. This is about YOU. Love yourself enough to walk away and discover you are worthy to be valued and loved…?

How to Recover from Emotional Trauma of Domestic Abuse


As with psychological abuse, emotional abuse is an elusive connection to it, whereby the abuser and victim usually may be unaware they are in an insidious relationship. Unfortunately, this type of abuse is destructive to the victim’s self-esteem and self-confidence, whereby the abuser shatters them so he can use his sense of control and belittling tactics to brainwash his victim.

The abuser breaks down the victim’s sense of identity and self preservation through continuous twisted cycles of the illusion he is “allowing” the victim to feel good through a honeymoon period which ends quite quickly as his behavior shows signs of being cold, emotionally unavailable, detached, and unwilling to listen to you and your fears. The abuser limits his important activities with you, doesn’t invite you to office events, has secrets that are never shared, and refuses to provide any conveniences that would make your life better. He will belittle you in a joking manner in front of others and/or not introduce you at all to show how unimportant you are to him. His conversations will never include you, nor will he want you to ever be in the limelight of his world, as his ego must never be challenged. He will say derogative things to you and then when you remind him of his bad behavior, he will tell you, by blaming you, he never did it, to confuse your rationale as if you are wrong. He lies to make himself look good in the eyes of his family and friends, and will always disgrace you with subtle tactics to control and dominate you.  Many of these destructive behaviors are due to his childhood wounds and insecurities never dealt with. Yet, none of them are the fault of the victim whom is abused.

Definition of Emotional Abuse – There is a consistent pattern of behaviors that occur with this type of offense. Often it happens with continuous criticisms, threats, verbal attacks, and bullying that renders the victim emotionally drained and broken down by the intentional shame and guilt brought on by the abuser. The abuser uses subliminal messages of intimidation and “gas lighting” to confuse and control his victims so they believe over time they are considered worthless, powerless, and unlovable individuals.

Abusers of this type of offense usually were abused themselves as children, never learned healthy coping skills and/or role modeling in nurturing deep and meaningful relationships during their young adult life, and may tend to have a perfectionistic or narcissistic personality disorder. These men feel angry, hurt, fearful and powerless to do anything about their lives and, thus, want to control others so they can project their imperfections and disdain onto them.

From the article, Signs of Emotional Abuse, they report “how male and female abusers  tend to have high rates of personality disorders including borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).” Additionally, emotional abusers normally do not tend to abuse physically, yet physical abuse is usually always preceded by emotional abuse.

One of the most damaging revelations about emotional abuse is the victim of emotional abuse often is not aware she is being mistreated and abused. The victim’s brain has been so brainwashed by the degrading mistreatments, she lives in denial of the control the abuser has over her. The victim has also learned coping mechanisms to minimize the abuser’s effects on her. The down side to this is the long term effects of emotional abuse tends to cause “severe emotional trauma in the victim, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”


The Cycle of Abuse is coined of “tension building, acting-out, reconciliation/honeymoon, and calm,” is useful in most abusive relationships. However, when a narcissist is the abuser, the cycle looks different.

Narcissism changes the back end of the cycle because the narcissist is constantly self-centered and unwilling to admit fault.  Their need to be superior, right, or in charge limits the possibility of any real reconciliation. Instead, it is frequently “the abused” who desperately tries for appeasement while the narcissist plays the victim. This switchback tactic emboldens the narcissist behavior even more, further convincing them of their faultlessness. Any threat to their authority repeats the cycle again.


  • Feels Threatened. An upsetting event occurs and the narcissist feels threatened. It could be rejection of sex, disapproval at work, embarrassment in a social setting, jealousy of other’s success, or feelings of abandonment, neglect, or disrespect. The abused, aware of the potential threat, becomes nervous. They know something is about to happen and begin to walk on eggshells around the narcissist. Most narcissists repeatedly get upset over the same underlying issues whether the issue is real or imagined. They also have a tendency to obsess over the threat over and over.
  • Abuses Others. The narcissist engages in some sort of abusive behavior. The abuse can be physical, mental, verbal, sexual, financial, spiritual or emotional. The abuse is customized to intimidate the abused in an area of weakness especially if that area is one of strength for the narcissist. The abuse can last for a few short minutes or as long as several hours. Sometimes a combination of two types of abuse is used. For instance, a narcissist may begin with verbal belittling to wear out the abused. Followed by projection of their lying about an event onto the abused. Finally tired of the assault, the abused defensively fights back.
  • Becomes the Victim. This is when the switchback occurs. The narcissist uses the abused behavior as further evidence that they are the ones being abused. The narcissist believes their own twisted victimization by bringing up past defensive behaviors that the abused has done as if the abused initiated the abuse. Because the abused has feelings of remorse and guilt, they accept this warped perception and try to rescue the narcissist. This might include giving into what the narcissist wants, accepting unnecessary responsibility, placating the narcissist to keep the peace, and agreeing to the narcissistic lies.
  • Feels Empowered. Once the abused have given in or up, the narcissist feels empowered. This is all the justification the narcissist needs to demonstrate their rightness or superiority. The abused has unknowingly fed the narcissistic ego and only to make it stronger and bolder than before. But every narcissist has an Achilles heel and the power they feel now will only last till the next threat to their ego appears.

30 Signs of Emotional Abuse Caused by Damaging Behavior 

  1. They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.
  2. They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
  3. They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
  4. They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.
  5. They try to control you and treat you like a child.
  6. They correct or chastise you for your behavior.
  7. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
  8. They try to control the finances and how you spend money.
  9. They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.
  10. They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.
  11. They give you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.
  12. They regularly point out your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings.
  13. They accuse or blame you of things you know aren’t true.
  14. They have an inability to laugh at themselves and can’t tolerate others laughing at them.
  15. They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.
  16. They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.
  17. The repeatedly cross your boundaries and ignore your requests.
  18. They blame you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.
  19. They call you names, give you unpleasant labels, or make cutting remarks under their breath.
  20. They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time.
  21. They resort to pouting or withdrawal to get attention or attain what they want.
  22. They don’t show you empathy or compassion.
  23. They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.
  24. They disengage or use neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.
  25. They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
  26. They view you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.
  27. They withhold sex as a way to manipulate and control.
  28. They share personal information about you with others.
  29. They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.
  30. They make subtle threats or negative remarks with the intent to frighten or control you.

The first step for those being emotionally abused is recognizing it’s happening. If you recognize any of the signs of emotional abuse in your relationship, you need to be honest with yourself so you can regain power over your own life, stop the abuse, and begin to heal. For those who’ve been minimizing, denying, and hiding the abuse, this can be a painful and frightening first step.

Can an emotional abuser change? It is possible if the abuser deeply desires to change and recognizes his or her abusive patterns and the damage caused by them. However, the learned behaviors and feelings of entitlement and privilege are very difficult to change. The abusers tend to enjoy the power they feel from emotional abuse, and as a result, a very low percentage of abusers can turn themselves around.

According to Lundy Bancroft, author of the book, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, here are some of the changes an abuser (either man or woman) needs to make to begin recovery:

  • Admit fully to what they have done.
  • Stop making excuses and blaming.
  • Make amends.
  • Accept responsibility and recognize that abuse is a choice.
  • Identify the patterns of controlling behavior they use.
  • Identify the attitudes that drive their abuse.
  • Accept that overcoming abusiveness is a decades-long process — not declaring themselves “cured.”
  • Not demanding credit for improvements they’ve made.




If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming him/herself or others, Call 911.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273-TALK (8522).
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org (English)  or  rainn.org/es (Spanish))
  • The Crisis Text Line can be accessed by texting BRAVE to 741–741, or visit our Resources page for more mental health support organizations.