Trauma| Psychology

3 Red Flags: How to Spot Emotional Abuse Early On

3 Silent Behaviors That Could Signal a Toxic Relationship

Som Dutt ☯
Psychology Simplified
8 min readMay 13, 2024


3 Red Flags: How to Spot Emotional Abuse Early On -by “Som Dutt” on Medium
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Whenever we enter into a new relationship, we are often blinded by the fire of love and passion within us because everything looks almost perfect. We do experience some early red flags that can lead to emotional abuse but most of the time we ignore them by not giving much importance to them.

But the fact is, in the beginning, emotional abuse can be very subtle and we keep ignoring them until it gets worse.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), emotional abuse occurs in 1 out of 3 relationships so frequently. Just because emotional abuse does not leave visible scars like physical abuse which is why people do not much talk about it yet they do leave deep scars in our psyche.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
― Elie Wiesel

But emotional abuse also needs more awareness so that we can prevent it at an early stage and take desired actions. How can we forget the mistreatment and disrespect done by the person whom we loved the most, especially when someone has a good memory?

I have recently watched a movie named Speak No Evil that also has the same concept. In that movie, one family kept pushing the boundaries of another family which resulted in physical abuse. The result was predicted.

The abuser and manipulators are always trying to cross and push the boundaries of the victim and in the last, they get all control over the victim’s psyche.

“Only you are responsible for your emotional abuse because you let the abuser cross the boundaries in the beginning”
-Som Dutt

Do not let your new partner cross the boundaries, do not listen to his or her poor excuses, and do pay some attention to any bad behavior done by her. In this article, we will unfold the early signs of the complex nature of emotional abuse.

This article will act as an eye-opener for new couples who usually close their eyes once they get into a relationship. This article will also safeguard your mental health and the self-confidence that you can lose if you keep your abuser emotionally abusing you.

“God wants you to be delivered from what you have done and from what has been done to you — Both are equally imporant to Him.”
― Joyce Meyer, Beauty for Ashes: Receiving Emotional Healing

1. Your Partner Frequently Use Sarcasm And Bitterness To Hurt You

A good sense of humor is a great sign of someone’s intellect but it can start becoming worse when your partner starts using sarcasm against you by making fun of you, your appearance, your activities, your family members, or anything related to you.

He can do it more frequently and you do not know when he is doing it healthily or just doing it to belittle you and put you down. Again the catch lies in pushing and crossing the boundaries, when the sarcasm transforms into constant criticism who knows?

“There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.”
― Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

He can use it to put you down, and you will see a pattern behind his sarcasm. He will start nitpicking things. Sometimes you can get annoyed by his judgments.

He can even pinpoint and make fun of the way you laugh, eat, walk, and even talk. He can also mimic you but in a bad way just to make you feel ashamed of being who you are.

Healthy disagreements and arguments are part of a healthy and deep bonding but when the arguments will transform into yelling and raising voices you will have no idea.

This all can happen because you have ignored the early signs of emotional abuse and now he is using it over you to release his frustration.

When he becomes comfortable making fun of you in private, he can start criticizing you in public. He can tease you in a hurtful way, he can laugh at you when someone makes a negative comment about you. He can make fun of your achievements, and interests.

“The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence — From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

In all the situations, his intent is clear, he is doing this so that he can make you feel little in front of him so that he can take full control over the power dynamics of the relationship.

2. Your Partner Can Financially Abuse You By Controlling The Flow Of Money

As money plays the most important part in our lives, financial abuse has become more prominent in the modern world. In the beginning, the abuser tries to make you completely dependent upon him.

He can tell you that don’t worry about anything, I am with you. I am here to pay your bills. He can push hard to make you quit your job. He will try every possible way to convince you to make you completely dependent upon him

“We cannot have a world where everyone is a victim. “I’m this way because my father made me this way. I’m this way because my husband made me this way.” Yes, we are indeed formed by traumas that happen to us. But then you must take charge, you must take over, you are responsible.”
― Camille Paglia

He will try every possible way to restrict you from becoming financially independent. In some cases, the abuser tricks you into buying big things on EMI and taking some loans from a bank. After you become completely financially dependent upon him, he will start his manipulation tactic.

In that case, you cannot leave him until your loans are over. He has just trapped you into a relationship where you have to make every financial decision with his permission.

“Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.”
― Danielle Bernock, Emerging With Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, And The LOVE that Heals

When your partner starts dominating in making your financial decisions that is the biggest red flag of early emotional abuse.

Some partners are rich and only try to get into a relationship with poor partners. By doing so they can easily exploit the poor partner with their expensive gifts, love bombing, and let them experience a rich lifestyle.

Now the poor victim lost all interest in her existing job and she quit her job because of the money she was earning in a month, his partner was spending more than that on just a single date.

In this way, the rich partner makes their poor partner dependent upon them financially. And later, if you feel unsafe with him then he can stop the flow of money and eventually, you have to stay with him because you have no other option for paying your bills. Now you also do not have any desire to do your old job because that was paying you in the pennies.

Now you are trapped in his manipulation and you cannot willfully initiate the breakup and now you have to adjust to his mistreatment. This forces you to stay in the relationship even if it becomes toxic and unbearable.

3. Your Partner Can Hide The Important Things And Lie To You

Your partner can start hiding crucial information from you. If you find dishonestly in your relationship, that is an important sign that can transform into emotional abuse in the future and can cause you trauma.

“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Some partners only reveal crucial matters when things become out of control from their side. For example, your partner has initiated an affair with someone else, and one day you catch him dating.

At that time they will behave innocently and reveal their entire story. But they have not considered you important when you were getting into that situation at first.

Their lies can come up with new stories. They can try to hide their daily schedules. You will not have any idea, where they are most of the time. His constantly hiding and lying nature will make you start living in a doubtful and confused state.

“Over time as most people fail the survivor’s exacting test of trustworthiness, she tends to withdraw from relationships. The isolation of the survivor thus persists even after she is free.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence — From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

In the beginning, they will start with small lies to test your boundaries whether you trust them or not. Even if he gets caught he will just check your reactions. If he becomes comfortable that he can easily lie on small things with you then he will move forward and start lying on big things.

He can start lying and hiding about his health, finances, purchases, important documents, fidelity, messages, meetings, and even with whom he went on vacations in the past.

Final Thoughts

Frequently use of sarcasm, financial abuse, hiding, and lying nature are the sure signs of early emotional abuse. Becoming aware of these early signs and identifying them at the early stage can save you from lots of mental health problems and trauma that you can face in the future.

Emotional abuse can cause stress, anxiety, and depression and make it difficult for you to form new relationships. If you have already recognized any of these red flags then it’s high time for you to analyze and reevaluate your existing relationship.

“There was no going back now. Rubber and metal could only take so much. The car could shatter and send its passengers into an elemental distillation of rock, flesh, blood, and ash. Alchemy, thought Mary, grimly. Too much bloody alchemy.”
― Susan Rowland, The Alchemy Fire Murder: a Mary Wandwalker Mystery

According to me, trust is the basis of love and any relationship. When trust is gone, it becomes very difficult to imagine such a person as your long-term life partner.

‘I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.’
-Friedrich Nietzsche

If you are genuinely in love with someone, you deserve respect, honesty, and kindness. Your partner is not supposed to lie to you. You deserve to ask him any question. He is supposed to answer them with honesty.

Never let anybody lie to you. Never let someone cheat on you. Never let someone give you stress for no reason. We are human beings, everybody deserves to be loved pure-heartedly.

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Som Dutt ☯
Psychology Simplified

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