Psychological abuse / Emotional abuse

  • Psychological abuse is also referred to as emotional abuse, psychological violence, or mental abuse
  • It involves someone saying or doing things to make you feel bad about yourself, ultimately lowering your self confidence and/or self worth
  • Psychological abuse can be a type of domestic and family violence
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing psychological abuse, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through online chat

What is psychological abuse?

Psychological abuse is behaviour that aims to cause emotional or mental harm. It may not hurt your body, but can be just as painful and distressing in other ways.

No one behaves perfectly in their relationships all the time. However, when someone deliberately hurts you over and over again it becomes abusive. Behaviour from others that aims to make you feel scared or bad about yourself is not OK. Psychological abuse can include someone regularly:

  • Embarrassing you in public or in front of family, friends, support workers or people you work with
  • Calling you names
  • Threatening to harm you, your pets, children, or other people who are important to you
  • Treating you badly because of things you can’t change — for example, your religion, race, past, disability, gender, sexuality, or family
  • Ignoring you or pretending you aren’t there
  • Doing and saying things that make you feel confused. This might include someone moving or changing things and then denying they have done this.
  • Always correcting what you say with the aim of making you look or feel foolish

There may be a pattern to the behaviour that happens again and again. Sometimes other types of abuse are going on at the same time. If this kind of abuse is being used to scare and control you it may be domestic or family violence.


Who is responsible for psychological abuse?

Psychological abuse can happen in any relationship, including with:

  • Boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, husbands or wives
  • Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-partners, ex-husbands or ex-wives
  • Carers or paid support workers
  • Parents, guardians or other family members
  • Adult children
  • Other people you live with or see often, whether inside or outside the home

None of these people has the right to psychologically abuse you. If your or someone you know is experiencing psychological abuse it is OK to ask for help.

Thank you for your help, for everything you have done for me over the last few days. Your services are more than impressive and impeccable for anyone who may be in danger or in need of help of any kind. I may not be here today without your protection and the services you provided me. It is amazing to know there are people out there that give their absolute best to keep others safe, because they can and they care. Before making the call to you I felt too ashamed and far too proud to ask anyone for help. But now I feel strong knowing that I had the courage to put my hand up and ask for help. It saved my life! 

Sarah, Gold Coast

Your donation will help us...

  • Provide support to women and children to re-build their lives in our bridging accommodation.
  • Provide emergency transport and accommodation for women and children in crisis due to domestic and family violence.
  • Provide safety planning, crisis counselling and information to those impacted by violence.
  • Educate Queenslanders on how to help family/friends/colleagues who have experienced or are currently experiencing domestic and family violence.