Physical and Emotional Abuse Usually Travel Together

Physical and emotional abuse often appear together in relationships as mental abuse to reinforce the physical abuse. Learn more physical and emotional abuse.

Physical and emotional abuse go hand-in-hand in many relationships. In fact, it's rare to find physical abuse without the presence of emotional abuse (aka mental abuse). Often, when the physical abuser cannot physically abuse the victim, such as in public, they can emotionally abuse him or her.

Physical abuse is certainly harmful, however, emotional and mental abuse can be just as bad. Emotional abuse can lead to:

  • Lack of self-worth
  • Lack of independence
  • Feeling like you're nothing without the relationship

More information on Effects of Emotional Abuse.

Physical and emotional abuse together in a relationship like a marriage can leave a person in fear for her life, yet too scared to leave the relationship.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is any type of behavior that purposefully hurts the other person mentally. Examples of emotional abuse include:1

  • Yelling
  • Name-calling
  • Blaming
  • Shaming
  • Intimidation

Controlling behavior may also be considered emotional or physical abuse depending on its severity. Creating isolation around the victim is another form of emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse's purpose is, in part, to make the victim completely dependent on the abuser. One subtle way of doing this is through financial abuse. Financial abuse, a form of mental abuse, is where the abuser severely restricts access to money, such as putting the victim on an allowance, preventing the victim from working or taking her credit cards.


Physical Abuse in Marriage Also Contains Emotional Abuse

Typically, within the environment of physical abuse, some components are physical while some are emotional abuse. All these tactics are designed to manipulate and control the victim while the abuser exerts his or her own power. Without the mental abuse "keeping the victim in line," the physical abuse would be less effective and the victim would be more likely to leave the abusive relationship.

Some of the tactics of emotional abuse seen with physical abuse include:

  • Dominance – as power and control are the main reasons for abuse, asserting dominance in any way possible – such as picking out your clothes – is frequently seen.
  • Humiliation – one way to make a victim feel bad about themselves is to humiliate her in public such as tell stories about her to her friends.
  • Isolation – one way to make a victim reliant on her abuser is to isolate her from social interaction so she feels she has no one to turn to for help and is less likely to leave the abusive relationship
  • Threats – threats of physical abuse or abuse of others (such as pets or children) are frequently used to control a victim
  • Intimidation – intimidation preserves the power and control the abuser has over the victim and reduces the chance that the victim will question the abuser – which is one of the goals of the abuser as he is typically seeking unquestioning obedience
  • Denial and blame – abusers often attempt to make victims believe the abuse is their fault or deny that it happened at all. This invalidates the destructive effects of both the physical and emotional abuse and may make the victim believe it is all "in her head."

People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered may be facing other types of emotional abuse such as the threat of telling others of their sexual orientation or sexual identity.

It's important to remember that these emotional abuses are just ways to maintain power and control over the victim, are just as unacceptable as the physical abuse itself and can leave scars that are just as long-lasting.

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 17). Physical and Emotional Abuse Usually Travel Together, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, July 23 from

Last Updated: December 30, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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