In general, be on the lookout for overly suspicious or possessive behavior. Some of the most common examples are:
• Manipulation: The person who is emotionally abusive may withhold affection, attention, or care unless you do what they want.
• Gaslighting: When you try to raise concerns or objections, they convince you you’re crazy, and the problems you’re having or the emotions you’re feeling are “all in your head”.
• Over-Monitoring: They are overly concerned with everyone you talk to, communicate with, and hang out with. They may try to read your emails, texts, or mail. They may ask you lots of questions about where you’re going, who you will be with, and what you’re doing, even if it’s a familiar routine.
• Accusations: If a romantic relationship, your partner may be constantly suspicious you are cheating on them, even if you are always together. In other relationships, an abuser may accuse you of being a terrible friend, son, daughter, etc. no matter how many efforts you take to make it right. There is a general lack of awareness on the part of the abuser, and they often refuse responsibility for their own behavior.
• Verbal Abuse: Since it does not use physical harm, emotional abuse often goes hand in hand with cruel words and other verbally abusive behavior.
Some emotional abusers have the goal of wearing someone down over time so that it will be easier to get what they want. In the process, the abused person often develops severe depression and a very low sense of self-worth.