Are You Emotionally Abusive? Questions for Men to Ask Themselves

Publication Date: 
prior to 1995
Resource Origin: 
Springtide Resources

Emotional abuse in intimate relationships is a serious problem. Many people believe that physical violence is the only legitimate form of abuse. Women say that emotional abuse effects them as much, if not more, than physical violence.  Emotional abuse can lead to family breakdown, mental distress and physical illness, death, and has a negative impact on the children in the family.

The goal of this fact sheet is to provide information so that emotional abuse can stop. It begins with you.

Do you...

  • Call your partner names or put her down?
  • Prevent her from having her own life, going to school, work, or getting together with friends and family?
  • Make decisions that affect your partner or family without consulting her?
  • Criticize everything that your partner does, complain about how she cooks or takes care of the children?
  • Do everything to win an argument including threatening or intimidating your partner?
  • Give your partner the silent treatment for hours, days or even longer to punish her?
  • Want to have sex after an argument and insist it's because you love her?
  • Involve the children in your arguments, threaten to harm or take them away from your partner forever?
  • Stop her from using sign language if she is deaf or hard of hearing?
  • Blame your partner for everything and never admit you are wrong?
  • Control the money and make all financial decisions?
  • Lie and hide things from your partner?
  • Refuse to listen to your partner's thoughts, feelings or concerns?
  • Use her disability or deafness to belittle or control her?

Do you believe that...

  • You have the right to make all the decisions in the relationship?
  • Your partner is to blame when things go wrong?
  • Women are inferior to men?
  • Women's role is only to have children and take care of her husband?
  • You alone know what is best for your family?
  • It is only abuse if you hit your partner?

Think about it...

  • Most women say that emotional abuse effects them more than physical abuse. For some it is the main reason they leave.
  • You can be criminally charged for threatening, stalking or harassing your partner or ex-partner.
  • It is wrong to force or coerce someone into having sex. If the person did not consent, you can be charged with Sexual Assault.
  • Children who grow up in abusive homes are more likely to have problems in school, and later on in life. Boys may grow up to be perpetrators of abuse in their own adult intimate relationships.
  • Alcohol or drugs do not cause abuse. You are responsible for your actions.
  • Unemployment and work stresses do not cause abuse. Most people experience problems in life, but not everybody is abusive.
  • Many people may not understand emotional abuse or take it seriously. Find people that can support you to change.
  • Everyone deserves to be valued, respected and safe, not abused.

Take Action Now!

  • Many women say that what they really want is for their abusive partners to take responsibility for their behaviour and go for help.
  • Contact the community services in your area and ask for a referral. Be specific about what you are looking for. Programs may be offered in different languages, or for deaf and hard of hearing men through culturally specific community centres. For centres that do not have a TTY, contact the operator for the Bell Relay Service.
  • If you live in an area where there are no services, talk to your family doctor or someone you trust. Look for written information on emotional abuse.
  • Couples' counselling is not appropriate where abuse is involved. If you are abusive, it is your responsibility to change. Your partner is not responsible for the abuse.  
  • Support your partner if she is going for counselling and do not interfere or interrogate her about it.
  • Do it for you! Accept that your partner may leave even if you go for help. Your counselling must not be a way to control your partner or keep her in the relationship.  It will still benefit you, your future relationships, and your children.