Here’s a shocking statistic: Nearly half of all women have been abused by a spouse or loved one at some point. But abuse doesn’t always mean a broken arm or black eye. In fact, verbal and emotional abuse is the most common abuse.  And it can happen to anyone. And in a recent study, every single person who called the National Domestic Violence Hotline for any reason was a victim of emotional abuse - alone or combined with physical abuse.

So, what IS emotional and verbal abuse? Clinical psychologist Jill Murray says it’s any behavior designed to control, intimidate, or put you in your place. She says that abusers work to destroy your self-confidence, and separate you from friends and family, so you have no one to rely on but them.

What does emotional abuse SOUND like? Constant yelling, name-calling, and criticism about how you drive and what you wear – anything that’ll erode your confidence. They may call constantly while you’re at work or with friends to harass you. And say things like: “It must be your time of the month”.  Or “If you were a better wife, I wouldn’t have to yell at you.”

Okay, so what does emotional abuse LOOK like? It includes humiliating you in public and in private, telling you what to wear, and what to eat at restaurants. They may follow you to make sure you don’t go anywhere you’re not supposed to.

What does emotional abuse FEEL like? You walk on eggshells and watch what you say.  You need to get permission before making even small decisions.  And eventually, you come to believe that their behavior is your fault and you deserve to be punished.

If this describes your life, get help now. I’ll post the numbers and websites for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Safe Horizon, and more.