Emotional abuse

Always being put down? Ignored? Or made to feel bad about yourself?

You can talk to us.

Emotional abuse is never your fault and it’s not ok. If this is happening to you, you can talk to us.

Words can hurt video: emotional abuse

We're here

If you’re experiencing emotional abuse, there are a couple of ways to contact us:

  • call us on 0800 1111 for a 1-2-1 chat
  • talk to us online
  • email us

Get in touch 

What is emotional abuse?

Whether it’s words, constant criticism, or even a silence, if you hear it often enough you might start to believe it. This is emotional abuse. If it’s happening to you, don’t ignore it.

Emotional abuse includes when someone:

  • calls you names
  • keeps shouting at you, even if you haven't done anything wrong
  • puts you down 
  • ignores you or leaves you out of things
  • says or does things that make you feel bad about yourself
  • makes you feel like you don’t belong
  • makes you take responsibility for things you shouldn’t have to do until you’re older
  • tries to control you or put pressure on you to do things you’re not ready to do
  • treats you differently from your brothers or sisters
  • puts you in dangerous situations
  • is aggressive and violent to other people in your family and you keep seeing it
  • stops you from having friends.

3 things to remember:

  1. you don't have to put up with it. No one has the right to make you feel bad
  2. it's not your fault when someone else is emotionally abusive
  3. record what's going on. This will help you to explain what's happening to someone who can help.

Why emotional abuse can happen

There are lots of different reasons why a person might abuse you emotionally.

They might be taking their own stress out on you. Or they might feel a need to control other people, especially if they’re struggling to control their own life.

Only the person doing this would know why they're behaving in this way. But whatever their reasons, it’s not okay. And it's not your fault.

What you can do

Sometimes young people who talk to Childline don't realise that what has happened to them is emotional abuse and that it's wrong. This can be because they're used to being treated in this way. It can seem normal to them. But you deserve to be treated with care and respect.