Is this emotional abuse?


My partner has been withdrawn for several years now and has refused to talk to me about what is going on and has refused to go to counseling, until very recently, though it appears after about 2 months he's not going to counseling any more. He stopped being loving toward me but he still manages energy to engage with and love our 2 children.

His actions include:

-no longer sleeping in the same bed

-not showing any interest in planning time together (ie after our second child was born he refused to take any time off of work over my 4 month maternity leave); yet he has on several occasions allocated time off to spend with his family.

-not responding to my feelings on what I think is important for our household (two children) and just basically making decisions that work for him.

- finding excuses for not responding to me when I say I want to talk to him or connect to him or understand what he's thinking because he is just silent.

For about 3 years he made every excuse in the book why he was disconnected (, ie he had an important presentation at work and was distracted; his mental energy was occupied studying for exams; he was sick; the kids waking up at night, etc.) and why he couldn't have conversations with me about what I have been feeling.

Recently, after me prodding and prodding, he has finally admitted to "not wanting to be around" me for at least 3 years. He has said these words a handful of times now with zero emotion around them.

Does this qualify as abusive? Leaving me hanging for at least 3 years, disregarding and not empathizing with my feelings etc and then telling me with no apologies that he doesn't want to be around me and hasn't for several years? He is not overtly abusive- ie he doesn't name call or yell at me. He doesn't overtly tell me I don't matter but his actions tell me I don't matter.

Its difficult to find information online about the more subtle forms of emotional abuse. I'm looking for some resources or information that would help me to assess my situation.

(For what its worth, I am in individual counseling for emotional support but the word abuse has never been used)


Original Post

Hello MARIE,

Well, since you are searching about emotional abuse I definitely recommend to look at yesIcan’s blog. In the blog there is an article that just might answer your questions on emotional abuse. The article is called, What is emotional abuse? If you ever have any questions on the topic or you would like to discuss the article please, feel free to ask or discuss and we will do the best to answer or you can also join one of our chat groups that we have available here at yesican.

Yes, this is most definitely emotional abuse.

When an abuser shuts down a conversation before it even begins, this is known as stonewalling. They withdraw emotionally and physically to give themselves satisfaction and control. They feel the need to punish their victim for a perceived attack- even if it's just a simple request to talk about emotions. Withholding affection is another abuse tactic. It is used to manipulate the victim, sometimes into a fear of abandonment mode. Discard is the act of leaving or appearing to leave the victim to instill worthlessness and that there is no closure to be had for the victim. It sounds like the abuser is also devaluing you by telling you he doesn't want you around.

Shahida Arabi has an amazing book on overt and covert forms of abuse. It was very eye opening and relatable for me. Abusers use many contacts overtly to psychologically control and manipulate their victims. It is called "Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare.

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