10 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship

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1. Uses threats and coercion to manipulate.
Emotional blackmail is a manipulation tactic where someone uses phrases that they know will cause an emotional response in order to get their way or to keep themselves at the center of all of the attention.

Making threats that he or she is “going to kill himself/herself” when you want to be alone or do something for yourself is abusive. They are using this phrase, not because they’re seriously suicidal, but because they know you’ll turn your focus back to him/her, feeling the need to help keep him/her alive and show you care. We should always take threats for suicide seriously unless we know it’s just a threat from an emotional abuser.

Another common manipulative phrase is, “(s)he’s going to leave you, divorce you, and take your children, leaving you with nothing,” each time you have a disagreement. (S)he throws the word divorce, or similar phrases meaning the same thing, around like it’s no big deal. But really it destroys the security of your relationship. (S)he often has no way or desire to carry out these threats but (s)he uses them because they succeed at giving him/her what (s)he wants: power and control.

Lastly, (s)he may even use verses from the Bible to get his/her way. 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 was not written as a weapon to coerce the other spouse. Using the Bible in such a way is sexual and emotional abuse, as well as manipulation.

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