Everything to Know About Insidious Abuse

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Emotional abuse can be difficult to spot, particularly in relationships. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical in nature for it to be harmful or even downright evil. Emotional abuse can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and even self-harm or suicide.

Seeing the signs can be difficult. Deliberate, consistent emotional abuse can also be known as insidious abuse. The thought being that everything is deliberate, and the actions of the abuser are meant to control and manipulate the person being abused. Here are some of the signs of emotional abuse.

What Is Insidious Emotional Abuse?

You may have heard emotional abuse termed as insidious abuse. There are situations that can be difficult to spot that may not necessarily be deliberate abuse, but they can still be harmful, nonetheless.

When the abuse is very much deliberate, however, it crosses into a territory of evil nature. The goal becomes not just to manipulate, but to cause emotional harm. And recognizing the signs are crucial.


One of the most common tactics that emotional abusers use is gaslighting. Gaslighting is where one party denies the events that have taken place in order to make the victims question their perception of reality and doubt themselves. This allows the gaslighter to maintain control of the situation since their word becomes more powerful than the experience or beliefs of the victim, at least in the victim’s eyes.

There are common phrases that are often tied to gaslighting. “You’re crazy for thinking that.” This makes the victim question their sanity while also putting more trust in the opinion of the abuser. “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.” This is to downplay the abusive behavior while also discouraging the victim to tell anyone else. “I never said that.” The abuser refuses to have accountability for their actions or words, making the victim doubt their memory.


Another part of insidious abuse is separation. This often includes separating the victim from their friends and family in order to continue gaslighting them and to have greater control over the relationship.

Abusers will often isolate their victims by limiting contact with people who may be supportive to the victim. Friends and family, people who care about the abuser, can become unavailable at the suggestion of the abuser.

They not only discourage seeing family or friends but restrict the ability of the abused person by withholding a vehicle or money. They will often insist on going everywhere with the abused person in order to continue their control. They will also become angry or even guilt trip should the abused person see loved ones.

When a victim becomes isolated, they don’t have the necessary support required to help them recognize that there is abuse happening, which may ultimately help them to leave the relationship.

Insulting Language

One of the factors where emotional abuse can become insidious in nature is through insulting language. When someone is emotionally abusive, they tend to resort to name-calling and insults. The goal is to insult the self-worth of the abused person.

Insults will target a person’s value, attractiveness, and competence, among other things. The goal is to break the abused person down so that they become more submissive to the wishes of the abuser.

Some of the things an abuser may say include “no one else will ever love you,” “you are too stupid to be on your own/land a job,” “you need a nose job,” or “you need to lose weight.” These statements can wear down the sense of self-value, self-esteem, and self-worth that each of us inherently has.

This is also partially why victims of emotional abuse will stay in those relationships. They believe the things that they have been told, feeling that they have no other option but to stay in that relationship.


It is important to note that yelling once in a while is normal. People’s emotions can run high, and yelling is part of that. But when it becomes a regular part of any relationship, that is one of the first signs of an abusive relationship.

Yelling shows up in all different types of relationships. Being yelled at by a parent, boss, or partner can be indicative of abuse. This is particularly true if the yelling becomes aggressive, loud, or the person gets into your face.

Yelling is an abusive tactic because it creates an unequal power dynamic between the two people involved. The thought being that the person who has the louder voice is not only in power but has the ability to instill fear in their victim through the elevation of their voice.

Yelling is seen as a way for the abuser to continue their grasp of power. In the instance where one party is physically larger, it can only reinforce the inherent fear.


Emotional abuse can be difficult to pinpoint. In situations where emotional abuse becomes commonplace and has seemingly negative goals behind it, it can cross into a more insidious nature.

Recognizing those signs and knowing whether you are being abused can be difficult for anyone. Finding help can come in different forms, though recognition is oftentimes one of the most important steps in the process.


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