Are you experiencing emotional or psychological abuse?


This World Mental Health Day (Sunday 10 October), we want to raise awareness of psychological and emotional abuse and the support that is available if you are experiencing it.

World Mental Health Day 2021

Most people know what physical abuse is, but did you know that mental or psychological and emotional abuse is a type of domestic abuse too?

Mental or emotional abuse not only occurs within dating or married couples, but within other relationships too, such as with friends, family members and co-workers. It impacts both people of all genders and sexualities.

What we can do to help you

If you’re experiencing psychological or emotional abuse, you’re not alone. Our trained staff are here to offer confidential advice and guidance as well as practical support to help rebuild your confidence and empower you to make the changes you want. We can help you with:

  • Finding a safe place to stay if you flee your current home
  • Emotional support
  • Practical advice and support, either face-to-face or via our helpline

Support for children and young people in our refuges or in the community. You can find information about our domestic abuse services in Oxfordshire or West Berkshire and our direct helpline which is available to support anyone who is living in Oxford or West Berkshire. The national helpline 0808 2000 247 is open to everyone 24/7, regardless of where you live.

What is mental or psychological abuse?

Mental or psychological abuse involves the regular and deliberate use of a range of words and non-physical actions used with the purpose to manipulate, hurt, weaken or frighten you, both mentally and emotionally. It can also confuse or influence a person’s thoughts and actions within their everyday lives, changing their personality and harming their health and wellbeing.

Some of the types of behaviour that are considered as mental abuse but not limited to are:

  • Accusation and blame – you are blamed for all problems and accused of doing everything wrong. The abuser doesn’t accept any responsibility for the consequence of their actions or words, and constantly uses you as an escape goat.
  • Co-dependency – making you feel that you have no other choice but to be with them or have them in your lives.
  • Emotional neglect – an abusive person will put their emotional needs before yours. They may demand respect and obedience and not show you the same back.
  • Humiliation – making fun of you and encouraging others to laugh at you, either in a public or private setting.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is always the hardest form of abuse to detect, as you don’t realise it’s happening and isn’t widely spoken about. It’s a way to control another person by using emotions to criticise, embarrass, shame, isolate and manipulate another person’s life. A relationship is emotionally abusive when there is a consistent patten of abuse words and bullying behaviour that wears down a person’s self-esteem and undermines their mental health. It can also affect their health and wellbeing.

Some of the types of behaviour that is considered emotional abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Intimidation and threats – shouting, acting aggressively and making you feel scared, making you feel small and unable to stand up for yourself.
  • Criticism – name-calling and making unpleasant sarcastic comments to lower your self-esteem.
  • Undermining – dismissing your opinion, or making you doubt your opinion by acting as if you’re being oversensitive.
  • Being made to feel guilty – emotional blackmail. Silent treatments, sulking, isolating you.
  • Telling you what you can/can’t do – where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear.

Did you know?

Did you know that the law is behind you? The Serious Crime Act 2015 makes behaviour that is ‘controlling or coercive” towards another person in an intimate or family relationship’ punishable by a prison term of up to 5 years.