Staying safe

Psychological or emotional abuse

Psychological or emotional abuse is any action which:

  • has an adverse effect on an individual's mental well-being
  • causes suffering
  • affects an individual's quality of life and
  • affects an individual's ability to function to their full potential.

This may include the threat that other types of abuse could take place or a situation where a person is led to believe that this could happen.

Examples of psychological and emotional abuse:

  • being ignored
  • being bullied
  • being humiliated or ridiculed
  • being harassed
  • being subjected to loud noise
  • being pressurised or manipulated into making decisions
  • living in a culture of fear or coercion
  • disregarding a person's opinions, personal history or life experience
  • removing or losing significant personal effects which are part of a person's individual personal history
  • having opinions and behaviour explained solely in terms of a person's age or disability 

Indicators of emotional abuse:

  • depression
  • withdrawal
  • agitation
  • loss of confidence and anxiety
  • tearfulness
  • increased levels of confusion
  • feelings of isolation
  • unexpected or unexplained changes in behaviour e.g. inappropriate dressing,
  • angry, physical or verbal outbursts
  • self-abuse, low self-esteem or self neglect
  • demanding or attention-seeking behaviour
  • sexually inappropriate or overtly promiscuous behaviour