Bruises, broken bones and black eyes make identifying physical abuse easier than other types of abuse. Emotional abuse is also prevalent in relationships, and yet not only do people not report it, but oftentimes they do not even recognize it is happening. Unfortunately, this abuse is subtle, and it can have devastating effects on a marriage. 

According to PsychCentral, emotional abuse is a form of violence, and the abuser can be male or female. A definition of emotional abuse is when someone is unable to consider how one’s words and actions affect another. While they may be difficult to identify, some signs of this abuse include: 

  • Belittling and discounting the victim’s feelings 
  • Threatening to take away love and affection 
  • Criticizing or showing contempt 
  • Inducing guilt without concern or empathy 
  • Gaslighting 
  • Stonewalling such as physically or mentally shutting off from a conversation 

According to Medical News Today, there are both short- and long-term effects of emotional abuse. The abuser may make the other spouse feel shame, confusion and/or hopelessness. The victim may also begin to notice more muscle tension, moodiness and the inability to concentrate. Long-term effects may include chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, substance use disorders, loneliness, depression, eating disorders, and chronic fatigue syndrome. 

Because of the devastating effects emotional abuse victims experience, it is important to identify when it is happening and get help right away. Unfortunately, it is difficult to change abusers, so even with professional help there is a good chance the marriage will not last. However, support networks can help the victim heal and hopefully go on to develop healthy romantic relationships.