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Healthy Relationships vs Emotionally Abusive Relationships.


Healthy Relationships differ wildly from emotionally abusive relationships, but it’s not always easy to tell the difference when you’re in them. Here are some comparisons.

An Emotionally Abusive Relationship:


  • Makes you feel anxious.
  • Makes you feel that you’re not good quite enough.
  • You worry that what you say or do is going to upset your partner.
  • They check up on you, reads your post, emails, text messages.
  • Accuse you of cheating or not thinking of their needs enough.
  • Keeps you stuck, not fulfilling your full potential.
  • They don’t support your desire to make yourself a more independent person.
  • Shouts at you, calls you names, insults you.
  • Controls you, where you go, what you wear, who you socialise with.
  • Demands your time and attention away from other people, children and activities.
  • Punishes you when you’re not doing as they want.
  • Gives you the silent treatment or tells you they’re not upset when their actions say they are.
  • Explodes into temper unexpectedly, makes you feel that you need to walk on eggshells to avoid it.
  • Twists what you say, only hears what they want to hear, misses the point because it suits them not hear it it, tells you that you said something entirely different.
  • Laughs at your beliefs, ridicules your religion, discounts your life experiences. Tells you you know nothing.
  • Let’s you down. Doesn’t turn up to watch the kids while you work, is consistently late. Doesn’t call ahead to let you know. Gets angry with you if you call them to hurry them up or find out where they are. Seems to think you have all the time in the world and that time revolves around them and their needs.
  • Controls the finances, spends money but scrutinises your spending. Tells you you’re too stupid or irresponsible to handle finances.

Most of all things ‘feel’ off. You feel tense, you feel worried. You can’t relax fully and on the rare occasions you do, there are repercussions. You’re caught off guard, you double check everything.

Emotionally abusive relationships are a stark contrast to healthy relationships, but the behaviour is so gradually introduced so that over time the abuse becomes normalised.

A Healthy Relationship:


  • You feel relaxed in each other’s company.
  • You feel not only good enough but fully accepted and loved, for your good points and your flaws.
  • You don’t worry or second guess yourself or your partner, you’re free to speak your mind.
  • Your privacy is respected and never violated.
  • You have time to yourself, with your friends and your family. They are capable of being alone too, they don’t ‘need’ you to lavish all of your attention on them.
  • Supports and encourages you to improve yourself, to study or exercise, etc. Loves you for who you are and for who you might become. They are not afraid of changes in you, they are glad for you to pursue your happiness. A happy you equals a happy them and vice versa.
  • Encourages independence while still retaining a healthy balance of sharing within the relationship. Things are equal, shared and fair. When one needs support the other steps in to help.
  • Doesn’t resort to name calling during conflicts. Sticks to the subject, deals with difficult emotions maturely and responsibly.
  • Let’s you live your life the way you choose to. Doesn’t question your motives, accepts they are not the centre of your life.
  • You are both happy to spend time alone. Happy to be together but with comfortable silences. No need to fill in the gaps.
  • Doesn’t expect you to do only what they want, compromises, isn’t upset if you wish to do something different.
  • Explains how they feel without deliberately trying to hurt you. Doesn’t hide how they feel. Doesn’t give mixed messages.
  • Handles anger responsibly. Feels angry, but doesn’t always react. Doesn’t target their anger at you.
  • Hears you. You feel heard, your opinion counts even if they don’t agree. They take what you said in the manner that you meant it, if they don’t understand they ask you for clarification, not make assumptions.
  • Respects your religion, beliefs and life experiences.
  • Doesn’t let you down, turns up on time, or calls if there’s a problem. Doesn’t leave you worrying or stranded.
  • Shares the financial responsibility.

You feel loved, you feel treasured and important. You feel safe and you can relax and be yourself without worrying about what’s happening next. You can make mistakes and not be penalised for not being perfect. Healthy relationships nourish you, they feel wonderful, and everyone deserves to feel truly loved.

These are just some examples of emotional abuse within relationships. If you can think of any more behaviour to compare healthy/unhealthy relationship patterns please comment below and we will include them in our list.


Abuse happens in all kinds of relationships, though abusers are often men and victims are often women, we know very well that this is not always the case.

Abuse is often hard to recognise. Here at MSV we hope to help victims realise they are in abusive relationships and empower them to take safe action.

By sharing our stories we hope that others can find the strength to help themselves and get support from relevant agencies.

We are looking for your stories of abuse to feature. Many small voices make one LOUD voice.

Domestic abuse damages in whatever form and here at Many Small Voices we gather the stories of those who have survived abuse into one resource to help and support those who are still victims. We also hope to support survivors through recovery once the abuse has stopped because the scars are still there and will remain forever. Support after abuse is just as important.

We are not experts, just people who are passionate that domestic abuse, in whatever form it takes, must be stopped.

If you think you or someone you know needs help please take a look in our links page to find a list of organisations that strive to help support victims of abuse.


A network committed to speaking out about domestic abuse and offering support. Many small voices can make one big voice.

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