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emotional bullying

According to Natasha Tracy from her article Emotional Bullying and How to Deal with an Emotional Bully:

Emotional bullying is when a person tries to get what they want by making others feel angry or afraid.

What is Emotional Bullying?

Emotional bullying isn't just seen on the playground; emotional bullying, although likely subtler, is seen in adult relationships and workplaces too. An emotional bully might:
* Name-call, tease or mock
* Use sarcasm
* Threaten
* Put-down or belittle
* Ignore or exclude from a group
* Lie
* Torment
* Gang up on others
* Humiliate others

These behaviors can be seen in adult relationships, (see Psychologically Abusive Relationships: Are You in One?)

In a post called 8 Phrases That Signify Zero Respect in a Relationship is a good yardstick of whether or not you are vulnerable to receiving emotional bullying. In order for an abuser to emotionally bully you, he has to be disengaged with caring about your feelings, thoughts and experiences. These phrases, according to the post include:
1. "I don't care." -- I would also elaborate: "I don't care what you think" also falls under this category, and the silent treatment, purposely ignoring special days like a birthday, definitely portrays an "I don't care" attitude.
2. "Why does that matter to you?" -- especially if it is in the context of your own feelings, thoughts and experiences
3. "That shouldn't bother you." -- according to the postA respectful communicator would say something such as, “I understand that you are bothered by that. I didn’t have the same experience, yet I know that you did.” This is a confirmation of the validity of the other individual’s thoughts, feelings and / or experience. 
4. "You're over-reacting" -- especially if someone habitually uses this phrase
5. "Conclusion" -- I would also elaborate and say that any person who is trying to rush through your expressions of feelings, thoughts and experiences to get to the conclusion and get to their comeback, isn't showing respect and is not caring. "And the point is?--" would be the same sort of phrasing.
6. "That's ridiculous." -- this is a dismissive phrase, and an arrogant one, no matter how one looks at it. If it is habitual, it is indicative of someone who refuses to hear you or care about you.
7. "That's silly" -- same thing as "That's ridiculous" -- but perhaps even more arrogant as "silly" connotes you are childish 
8.  "You're making a big deal out of nothing." -- when used habitually, this is telling you that the other person does not think your feelings have any validity. I would also elaborate and say that this is typical phrasing of narcissists and sociopaths, especially when they are talking to empaths (who tend to be sensitive). It's a definite red flag. "You make mountains out of molehills" is another phrase along the same lines.
9. "That's not my problem" -- according to the postThis disrespectful ‘emotional vocabulary’ phrase is completely contradictory to being in a relationship. An individual in a relationship by nature must care about what is happening in their partner’s world.

Note: disrespect isn't emotional or verbal abuse (yet ... except for the silent treatment -- the silent treatment is definitely abuse), but this is certainly a road to emotional and verbal abuse. For more on types of abuse go here.

Other signs of disrespect include:
1. Consistently interrupts 
2. Lectures you as though you are a little child who needs to learn lessons, and at the same time, is dismissive of your experiences, feelings and thoughts (i.e. when you express yourself, spends more time lecturing you than hearing you). Warning! This is also the sign of someone who is abusive -- almost all abusers express themselves in a haughty, imperious, know-it-all way. When someone who lectures graduates into telling you what to do or is insinuating that you are crazy, too sensitive or unstable (gaslighting), then this person is most likely an abuser.
3. leans into you and points his finger (in a shaming kind of way) while lecturing at you.
4. consistently uses phrases like "We aren't going to talk about this right now", "We are not going to discuss this", "I have had enough of discussing things with you. All I want is silence and peace."
5. Consistently uses phrases like: "You really are trying to provoke me" (when you are crying), "You really are trying to irritate me" (when you are crying). This person is flat-out trying to tell you that they don't care about how situations effect you.
6. Consistently uses phrases like "If you're going to keep crying, we're done", "If you're going to be sensitive, you don't deserve what I have to say", "If you're going to be sad and unhappy all of the time, we're done", "If you can't get a handle on your emotions, you won't be going to the party." -- these are the beginning stages of control and abuse.
7. Is consistently in a rush to get through the experience of hearing your perspectives, feelings and thoughts
8. re-frames your feelings. For instance: Say that you say: "I was feeling sad that I didn't see you for my birthday." Re-framing it would be: "No you were angry that I wasn't here for your birthday because birthdays are everything to you, and you are everything too, in your mind." It is an attack and puts you on the defensive, and also negates the birthday as an important event. The statement also says sadness over it not being celebrated is not allowed.
9. re-frames your thoughts. For instance: Say that you say: "I thought I'd rake the leaves today. It was a nice day and I thought 'Why not?'" Re-framing it would be: "No, you raked the leaves to make me feel guilty because I hadn't gotten around to it in the last few weeks." Again this is an attack and puts the you on the defensive.
10. re-frames your experiences. For instance: Say you say: "He pushed me against the window in the car and I got out of the car because I was being pushed up against the window." Re-framing it would be: "No, I doubt he'd do that. You got out of the car because you wanted to make all of us miserable." This negates your experiences and is a form of gaslighting (i.e. about trying to alter your experience in a way that reinforces who they want you to be, rather than who you are -- scapegoats from toxic families are often treated this way).
NOTE on 8, 9 and 10:  Abusers, narcissists and sociopaths usually try to re-frame the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others. They are notoriously poor listeners, demanding, commanding and they see dark motives in other people (even when there aren't any). They are, by nature, retaliatory people when they feel they are losing power or don't have power, or when they feel people are not agreeing with them, or when they feel they cannot manipulate others. A consistent use of re-framing your experiences (especially if used in tandem with gaslighting) is the sign of an abuser (who generally have Cluster B personality disorders: see this post on what abuse is and who it is perpetrated by. There are reasons why abusers re-frame things: some of the reasons are:
1. They tend to be liars (gaslighters) themselves, so they feel that others do it too (most abusers use projection as their way of sizing up the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others)
2. They put people into roles and judge people as all good or all bad, so they re-frame as a way to make sure that the person embodies the role they want for them
3. They are control freaks and anything they feel they cannot control, or pin down into a concrete unchangeable judgement, including their own perceptions of a person or experience, they re-frame as a way to get to control their perceptions (often extending it to smear campaigns: trying to control the perceptions of others too)
Any adult who has tried to punish another adult in any way (except through using the usual authorities like police if they have broken the law) is a HUGE RED FLAG that you are dealing with someone who is an abuser (bully). If you don't know whether they have a "punishment mindset", ask people from their past.

So what are some signs of emotional bullying?

First here are the signs of verbal abuse which usually precede emotional bullying:

name-calling, insults, defaming, belittling, defining in a negative prejudicial way, trivializing what another person says through an entire altercation, false unproven accusations on a consistent basis, disparaging your character and disguising it as a joke, constant chiding, interrogations meant to humiliate, taunting, goading, yelling and raging, continual use of "always" and "never" statements, baiting, condescending (between adults), patronizing (between adults), talking over you and not letting you speak, responding to your thoughts, views, desires, feelings, expressions (and even happiness) as an irritant or an attack (active link from Wikipedia). The point of verbal abuse for a perpetrator is to disable a victim's self esteem, to get him to think of himself as inferior to others, to get him to think that he does not have the same rights and privileges of kindness as others, to get him to think that he deserves verbal abuse because he is inferior. It may also mean that the perpetrator wants a victim to grovel for relief from verbal abuse. Verbal abuse almost always escalates to emotional abuse. Verbal abuse can escalate to physical abuse if there are threats of any kind. For a more in-depth discussion on verbal abuse go to this post.
For an excellent article on the effects of verbal abuse on its victims go here.

Here are the signs of emotional (and psychological) bullying:

threatening physical or emotional harm, the silent treatment, imposed isolation (keeping you from your friends and family), slander and smear campaigns, destruction of pets or property, brainwashing, gaslighting, shaming, sabotage, scapegoating, favoritism, perspecticide, consistently negatively comparing you with another, punishing (adult to adult), intimidation, manipulation, trying to control your actions through rewards and punishments, bullying (punishing, threatening or verbally abusing you from a position of power), domestic theft, emotionally blackmailing (threats and punishments used to control your behavior or to capitulate to demands), false accusations (unwarranted or exaggerated criticism or blame), frivolous litigation, grooming (maneuvering you into a dependent position that will make you dependent on your abuser, or grooming you to look at abuse as acceptable), harassment (unwarranted and chronic unwelcome communications or actions), infantilization, stalking, unwanted interrogations, targeted mocking and sarcasm, deceiving, invalidation (of emotions, experiences, so that the victim's perspectives are discounted), mirroring, neglect (ignoring a dependent's needs), normalizing (getting a person accustomed to abuse, or coercion, or breaking the law), objectification, parentification, splitting (the practice of regarding others as completely good, or completely bad), triangulating, rationalizing manipulative behavior, vilifying a victim of abuse or bullying, brandishing anger (putting on an act of anger to shock you), expecting you to "walk on eggshells" around their explosive rages and "punishments", feigned victimization, "guilt trips" over erroneous allegations, sexual objectification, impeding or interrupting sleep, expecting perfectionism from you at all times, projection, pathological lying and Munchausen's and Munchausen by Proxy. The point of emotional abuse for a perpetrator is to disable a victim emotionally so that the victim is grieving, sad, upset, depressed, in shock, feeling isolated and unloved, and in general, suffering emotionally from cruelty or unkindness. It may also mean that the perpetrator wants a victim to grovel for relief from emotional pain, thereby making the victim more compliant to the abuser's demands. The point of psychological abuse for a perpetrator is to get a victim to think that he is disabled mentally, to play with the victim's perceptions (perhaps the victim discovers lies, subterfuge and smear campaigns against him), to instill in him that he does not have the same rights and privileges of others because he is "crazy". It may also mean that the perpetrator wants a victim to think of himself as disabled psychologically so that he will accept fault in altercations with the abuser because he is mentally deficient, or lean on the abuser for a sense of reality.

Note: the two examples above come from my previous post on what abuse and bullying are and who it is perpetrated by.  

Here is a great video with psychologist, Judy Rosenberg, and Walt Lusk on this subject:

further reading:

Abuse Is Abuse — Even If He Doesn’t Hit You -- by Melissa Jeltsen for Huffington Post

Recommended: Identifying Emotional Abuse in Relationships - by Perrin Elisha for Psych Central and Your Tango

Emotional bullies are not happy folk. No bully is. Bullies are much more likely to come from less-than-ideal circumstances — a broken home, a single parent, alcohol addiction in the family.
Fear often therefore motivates the bully’s behavior. Insecurities plague the darker parts of their hidden hearts, so they try to control external conditions to keep their anxious insides from spinning out of control.
Inside, they are barely hanging on so they overcompensate by tightening their grip on everything (and often everyone) outside.
Or they push others around in a vain attempt at feeling better about themselves by comparison.


30 Signs Of Emotional Abuse -- by Barrie Davenport

Girl Bullies: Understanding Different Types of Bullying -- by Lisa Lister,  a writer focusing on the empowerment of women and female body issues

Five years in jail for men who 'emotionally bully' wives: New law will target bullies who control partners with 'coercive and controlling behaviour' -- from the UK site, (discusses the new law in the U.K. that makes emotional abuse a crime)

Teasing Isn't Funny: Emotional Bullying -- a book geared towards kids grades K - 3

bully prevention posters for schools -- includes a poster about emotional bullying

from the website
(also includes a good post on how to recognize and stop emotional bullying):