Most people realize there’s abuse, when they’re being hit, cut, slapped,  etc.  What about the more subtle forms of abuse, though?

Do you recognize it as abuse when your activities are restricted, when you have to account for every minute you’re gone, when it’s made difficult for you to see your friends and family, when you’re accused of ulterior motives if you smile at someone?  Those are controlling forms of abuse, meant to intimidate and isolate you.

Do you recognize it as abuse when you’re being yelled at, called names, belittled, and/or shamed?  Those are forms of verbal abuse, meant to make you feel bad about yourself, to lower your self-esteem, and make you more vulnerable.

Do you recognize it as abuse when your needs and desires aren’t respected and honored?  What if you’re told how you must dress or wear your hair, do you see that as controlling?  How about when you’re emotionally pressured to have sex, or to have sex in a way that makes you uneasy?

If you’re interested in learning more, I wrote a 4-part series earlier about Domestic Violence (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4).   Often, controlling behaviors can escalate into physical abuse over time.  It’s important to recognize them as red flags.  Please get educated about all the different forms of abuse, so that you can recognize it if it’s happening in your own relationship.  Please help me get the word our to others that might need help!

Until next time,



    • Thank you for your comment, Lynn! I’m hoping that this post will reach those who need to see it. I have worked with quite a few young women who have had boyfriends who were very controlling or constantly putting them down. This type of abuse may be subtle, but, as you know, it can be devastating over time to their sense of themselves.


  • Thanks so much for this important information. I have been very familiar with both kinds of abuse my whole life, and it is very subtle and hard to recognize, especially when it has developed over time.
    Thank you for this information…

    • Thank you, Madeleine, for commenting! I’m really sorry that you’ve been exposed to abuse. It can be subtle and hard to recognize, and that makes it so difficult to take the action that’s needed. All abuse leave scars, but with verbal/emotional abuse, the scars aren’t on the outside where they can be seen.


  • Linda, This is a stunning article!
    As a child my Mother favored boys and considered me an inconvenience. She treated me with disdain and control. It certainly hurt my confidence until I realized the abuse and found a life mother in my Aunt who watched over me and influenced her sister to back off. That and growing older helped me to recognize the symptoms and effects of mental and physical abuse. The bad news about this story is my brother became her favored child. Yet in the end, I unwittingly came out the winner in that dynamic. Thanks for your attention to this important matter!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Linda! I’m really sorry that your mother was so unkind and unfeeling toward you. Unfortunately, sometimes the people who should be the most loving toward us, and most protective of us, are instead somehow damaged by life and become toxic to be around. You were blessed to have your aunt to provide much of the nurturing and caring that your mother didn’t provide. It sounds like you were able to be resilient, and rise above the abuse that you suffered from your mom. Sometimes adversity can create a strong inner core, that leads us forward. I’m glad it did for you!

      Take good care,


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