Emotional abuse can be carried out by a person without a conscious knowledge that it is being done. The actions of the abuser can stem from the fact that he himself was abused or is still being abused. The person that she is abusing may be counter-abusive so that the notion of victim and abuser becomes nebulous and subjective. Thus, if a person is the subject of emotional abuse he should be able to recognize the signs and danger signals.
Emotional abuse can come in many forms and in degrees of severity. To understand the signs, the term must be understood. It fundamentally means the psychological undermining of another person by exaggerated and constant reference to faults whether perceived, concocted or actual. The aims may be concrete and premeditated or based in frustration and anger. The targets are commonly partners or children and the results can be devastating.
Direct Verbal Aggression
Abuse that is characterized by verbal aggression typically manifests itself in two ways -- direct and indirect. The direct approach is for the abuser to call the other person by insulting and humiliating names or to blame them for things that he hasn't done. He might also use verbally aggressive language and utter implicit or explicit threats. She will pass unfair and condescending judgments on the actions of her victim and generally try to undermine the confidence of the other person.
Indirect Verbal Aggression
He may also use indirect tactics which include offering help in matters in which the victim can easily cope. Or he might offer criticisms that actually belittle and undermine the thoughts and actions of his victim. The results of these actions will depend on the emotional and actual strength of the victim. For example, if the behavior of the abuser is countered with similarly condescending remarks or actions, then little or no one-sided abuse has taken place. However, weaker responses can be the start of a decline towards unwarranted emotional dependency.
One further common tactic is for the abuser to always show a contrary stance or to try to instigate arguments. This will be particularly easy if she knows her victim well. She will know which buttons to press. The abuser might also act dramatically and be apparently prone to unpredictable outbursts.
Another way of abusing someone emotionally is to deny that certain things had been said between the abuser and the victim and to play mind games by placing different meanings on the words. In this way, the abuser can say rude and insulting things and then display anger and condescension by telling the victim that he has misunderstood what was really meant. This has the double effect of making the victim feel guilty for her correct understanding and stupid by being made to believe that she has misunderstood.
Further Signs of Emotional Abuse
Further tactics that an abuser can use include not communicating for periods of time and in other ways not paying attention to the emotional needs of the other party. This will be particularly effective for the abuser if it is done when the need for support is obvious. Another is re-interpreting past events and memories. This will be done so that the important values that the victim placed on them are shattered.