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Relationship Red Flags: Emotional Abuse + COVID-19 Conditions

According to Peace at Home Family Shelter, emotional abuse amongst the COVID-19 pandemic can manifest itself in new insidious ways- as well as intensify existing abusive tactics. Many experts fear the cases will continue to increase as the uncertainty continues.

“Financial worries and stress related to the pandemic may be contributing to incidences of emotional abuse. Some new ways we are seeing emotional abuse during the pandemic include keeping you away from your children or family under the pretense of social distancing, using a COVID positive test as a weapon to control you or threaten you, not allowing you to go to the doctor or get a COVID test, and increased outbursts or verbal abuse“ (Peace at Home Family Shelter, 2020)

There are many forms of emotional abuse tactics. Do you recognize any of these red flag behaviors?

  1. Degrading language. One may use sarcasm to hurt or invalidate your feelings in a degrading manner. Then, they may dismiss you when you address the offensive behavior.

2. Dominating or Controlling Behaviors: Acting superior to you by belittling you or treating you like a child. According to the video, Kati mentioned that this can show up as your partner dismissing your plans and aspirations by referring to them as stupid or unimportant. Also can show up as manipulative behavior, financial control, etc.

3. Accusing/Blaming: Other person does not accept blame and cannot accept criticism. Casts blame on you or accuses you of things you did not do.

4. Neglect: Not meeting basic emotional needs of loved one. ex: attention or affection.

5. Codependence / Enmeshment: Treats children or partner like an extension of themselves; make choices for you, over shares personal information, negate your needs by assuming what’s best for you instead of supporting you to make the decision on your own (infringing on autonomy & boundaries.) Partner or parents may shame you when you try to gain autonomy or make advance towards independent thought or activities.

6. Gaslighting: “it’s a mechanism to control others through manipulation.” No alignment between action and alignment. Projecting what they are doing onto other person.

7. Uses people close to you and using it as ammunition to doubt yourself.

You are not alone.

What can you do to get help? Call 1-800-799-SAFE Or visit

We are also available to serve our community to help individuals, couples, and families recovering from trauma and relationship conflict. If you need assistance, please feel free to reach out and schedule an appointment with us.

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