Emotional Abuse Test

Emotional abuse is a common and often misunderstood form of abuse. It can occur in the home, between partners or family members, among peer groups at school or in the workplace, in care homes or anywhere that people interact with others on a regular basis. Emotional abuse is abuse that is not physical in nature and that causes emotional distress or damage to the recipient.

Sometimes, emotional abuse escalates and becomes physical or even violent in nature. It can be difficult to recognise because unlike physical abuse, it leaves no visible marks and is often hidden from public view. Victims of emotional abuse also frequently become so worn down by the abuse they are receiving that they are unable to recognise it themselves. Or, they may be too afraid or feel bound to their abuser by love or duty to report emotional abuse.

If you feel that you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship, there are certain questions that you should ask yourself to establish what is really happening. If you answer yes to the following questions, you are probably being emotionally abused.

Questions about you:

Do you…

  • Feel afraid of your partner for much of the time?
  • Often find that you try to avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • Feel that you can’t do anything that will please or satisfy your partner?
  • Believe that it is your fault that your partner treats you as he does, and that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • Feel that perhaps it is you who is wrong or crazy?
  • Feel emotionally numb?
  • Feel that your situation is hopeless and that you are unable to do anything about it?
  • Believe that any insults directed at you are probably justified?
  • Think that it must be a normal part of a relationship for one person to have all the power and to order the other around?

Questions about your partner:

Does your partner…

  • Humiliate you in private or in public?
  • Often shout at you?
  • Issue orders to you rather than politely ask you to do things?
  • Criticize everything you do?
  • Put you down and belittle your career or achievements?
  • Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • Ignore your talents or successes?
  • Blame you for their own abusive behavior telling you that it is you that makes them treat you this way?
  • Look on you as their property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
  • Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • Hurt or threaten to hurt those that you love?
  • Threaten to take your children away?
  • Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • Force you to have sex or to indulge in sexual practices that you are not comfortable with?
  • Remove or destroy your belongings?
  • Become excessively jealous and possessive?
  • Control where you go or what you do?
  • Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • Constantly check up on you?
  • Check your mobile phone for messages or read your private correspondence?
  • Constantly and wrongly accuse you of having affairs or other similar behavior?


All of the above are danger signs that a relationship may be emotionally abusive. If you have answered affirmatively to the questions, even if not all of them apply to you, you need to seek help. You can do this by speaking to a family friend or family member that you trust, voicing your concerns to your partner if you feel able, or by speaking to your family doctor. You should also be able to obtain help from domestic violence websites and helplines who consider emotional abuse to be as dangerous and important as domestic violence.

  • the ”he” pronouns are ridiculous though. I was in a relationship with a female person whom emotionally abused me a few months into our relationship, and I’m still afraid of her to this day.

    use ”they” instead.
    (yes, I was female at that time, but I’m non binary)

  • Kristin Livingston

    I absolutely agree, it should be “they” not “he”. Women do this just as often as men do. Why is it that men are always singled out? I know plenty of guys who have gone through abuse from their wife/girlfriend and the woman gets all the sympathy while the man isn’t allowed to heal, because everyone chooses to always believe the woman first. I think it’s easier for women to be abusive because they know they can get away with it.

  • Healing

    What about deception/dishonesty/denial due to an addiction? Keeping secrets that affect the other partner’s free will/choice of staying in the relationship? Intentionally trying to emotionally manipulate another person with guilt/crying, repeated empty apologies, or excessive flattery/gifts (“love bombing”)?

    I consider these behaviors to be part of psychological/emotional abuse as well. It can be hard to know what’s true when one person is leading a secret double life and intentionally trying to hide and lie about it to another. I fell into this trap years ago and it was very confusing and painful. Looking at this list, we both did things that were emotionally abusive and most of them were also related to the addiction. I’ve since left that relationship and gotten help but I’m still learning about addiction and abuse so I can continue to avoid repeating old patterns.

  • Abda

    This is my life. I feel stuck and scared

  • Kat Roberts

    This is my life somedays when my step father comes to visit he has an out of control temper and sometimes makes feel like he would hurt me physically if he could

  • Nicole Troyer

    this is my life every day as i’m stuck living with my boyfriend (father of my two boys as well) my mother and father won’t help me and he’s isolated me from all my friends to the point that i don’t have any to go to for help or a place to stay… gods… this test looks like a damned checklist 🙁

  • Jeannie Taylor

    I want to know if I can get a free grant to move to another state.