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How to Cope With an Emotionally Abusive Boyfriend

Emotionally abusive boyfriends humiliate, intimidate, and threaten their girlfriends.These tips will help you see your relationship in a different light, and help you get the strength you need to leave.

emotionally abusive boyfriendIf you think or know you’re being emotionally abused, read The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond by Patricia Evans. She describes what verbal abuse is, shows you how to cope with an emotionally abusive relationship. She also describes ways to mitigate the devastating effects on your relationships, and outlines the Levels of Abuse – from subtle, insidious put-downs that can erode your self-esteem to full-out tantrums of name-calling, screaming, and threatening that can escalate into physical abuse.

I was inspired to write this article for a reader called Lisa. “I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4 years,” she says. “He began to lightly abuse me, calling me names, pushing me or throwing things at me. It began to get worse; he spat on me and even punched my face so hard I ended up in hospital. One night I went to bed early and because I never “asked his permission” he came in and cut up my clothes before my eyes. I never told anyone what I went through and still haven’t. My boyfriend would emotionally get inside my head and apologise so much and say he would change.  I am very emotionally attached to this man and miss him when I think of what he was like when he was not emotionally abusive. He was my best friend. I know I am stupid for even having these thoughts but I cant help it. Please help!!” – from 5 Stages of Leaving an Abusive Relationship.

Getting the strength you need to leave a boyfriend who abuses you emotionally is difficult, but you CAN do it! You will survive, and you will be happier in the future. My prayer is that you find the courage you need to see your boyfriend for who he is — and to believe that you deserve to be loved and treated with respect.

You were created to be loved, and to love in return. Don’t let an emotionally abusive man steal your spirit and snuff out your light.

What Does an Emotionally Abusive Boyfriend Do?

Here’s a great explanation of emotional abuse, from the Domestic Violence website:

“The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want.

You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse — sometimes even more so.” – from Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships.

4 Ways to Cope With an Emotionally Abusive Boyfriend

You are NOT stupid, dumb, weak, or wrong for being in this relationship – or for not being able to leave your boyfriend. Your thoughts and reactions are not wrong or stupid. You’re a woman in love, in the grip of a powerful force that is complicated and difficult to shake off.

But, that doesn’t mean you have to stay where you are. My tips for coping with boyfriends who are emotionally abusive all revolve around leaving the relationship. Let him go. You deserve better!

1. Talk to someone you trust

One of the most powerful weapons emotionally abusive boyfriends have is your SILENCE. When you don’t talk about your boyfriend, you are protecting him and your relationship. When you protect him, you keep yourself trapped, weak, and helpless.

If you can’t tell your family how your partner treats you, you’re not alone. Most women who are abused don’t tell anyone about it because they’re ashamed, embarrassed, and reluctant to hurt their partners and their loved ones.

One of the first ways to get the strength to leave your abusive boyfriend is to talk to someone you trust. If you don’t trust anybody and have no family or friends, then call the Domestic Violence Hotline – the number and website is at the end of this article.

2. Learn from women who found the strength to leave abusive boyfriends

Here’s what one reader, Diane, told a woman who was emotionally abused by her husband:

“Remember, stuff is just that…stuff. The most important thing is safety and sanity. You will have other stuff. You only have one mind. You have to make sure you will not go back. You are truly a strong and intelligent woman. You can do this. Don’t listen to negative voices in your head. They are lying to you. You have nothing to feel guilty about. He will suffer the consequences of his actions. You will suffer the consequences of yours.”

There are many comments on my article about why men are abusive to the women they say they love. Reading through that post and the comments will help you see your boyfriend in a different light.

3. Give yourself time – don’t beat yourself up if you’re not ready to leave yet

Leaving an emotionally abusive boyfriend is a process that takes time because the effects of emotional abuse are insidious. They sneak up without warning, and insert themselves in your life without you hardly even noticing.

How to Cope With an Emotionally Abusive Boyfriend

How to Cope With an Emotionally Abusive Boyfriend

Low self-esteem, insecurity, helplessness, powerlessness, unworthiness – those are the effects of abuse, and they are not easily overcomel

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have the strength to leave your boyfriend today, or tomorrow, or this month. When you’re trapped in a bad relationship, you need time to grow and get ready to leave.

If you aren’t sure if your boyfriend or husband is verbally abusing you, read 10 Warning Signs of a Bad Relationship.

4. Start thinking about the relationship – and the life – you want for yourself

Your actions and behavior follows your thoughts. If you don’t believe you are lovable or valuable, then you will settle for a relationship that is emotionally abusive. If you believe the lies he tells you, then you won’t find the power and strength you need to create a happy life for yourself.

Everything you need to Blossom is already within you. You just need to nurture it a little, to give it time and space to grow. What you need to create is hope, peace, success, strength, and plans for your future. You have the power to create your own destiny (though you may not feel that way right now!).

You have the power, my beautiful girl. The way to tap into your power is to stay focused on the relationship, career, home, friends, and life you want. You can become the woman you want to be…you just need to take it one step at a time. Keep reading articles about leaving an emotionally abusive boyfriend. Talk to your strong, wise friends. Gain strength from blogs that help women cope with emotionally abusive boyfriends. All of this will rub off on you!

For more ways to get strong and leave a boyfriend who abuses you emotionally, read How to Leave a Man You Love – But Can’t Live With.

Is your boyfriend emotionally abusive? Please talk about it – to your friends, family, coworkers, and in the comments section below. It’s not your fault, and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

If you don’t have the strength to leave your relationship, call the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence at 800-537-2238 or visit their website at www.ncdsv.org/.

My prayer is that you find strength, hope, and courage to leave an emotionally abusive boyfriend. I welcome your comments below, but I can’t offer advice our counseling. You will find it helpful to write about your relationship, though. Sharing your experience may help you gain clarity and insight, and help you deal with emotional abuse in your relationship.

If you’re feeling the pain of your boyfriend’s rejection, read How to Cope When He Says He’s Not in Love With You.

“Now tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver.

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10 thoughts on “How to Cope With an Emotionally Abusive Boyfriend”

  1. OK, this is fine, but, like the rest of media, you fail to discuss when the woman is the one doing the emotional abuse.

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Breaking free,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how brave you were to leave your emotionally abusive boyfriend! It will take time for you to heal. He was very damaging to your heart, mind, and soul.

    He hurt you, and you can’t just bounce right back up again. These hurts take time to grieve. You loved him, wanted to marry him, and were planning a life with him. It’s not easy to just shrug off all those hopes and dreams.

    I wrote this article for you:


    I hope it helps. I will keep you in my prayers. I pray for strength, healing, hope, and peace. I pray the love of God shines through those dark clouds and fills you with power and energy. May He shine His face upon you, and may you feel how much He loves you. May you see all the wonderful things He has given you, and may you listen to His call on your life.


    1. Dear Laurie,
      Thank You so much for your answer and that beautiful article that you wrote for me, it literally brought me to tears , but tears of joy and happiness, it feels so good and comforting to know that there is like after all this darkness. I do Believe God is showing me how much he wants me to stay strong by giving me words of hope and love in ways i would never expect, just today i was feeling so sad and doubting my choices , my ex boyfriend went to where i work, tried to talk to me and i said no but it was so hard to see him , to hear his words, to try not to feel sorry for him, not to fall again on his lies…i did walk away but still it has a big and painful impact in my heart. Last night i went to sleep feeling lonely and confused, all day i have been trying to encourage myself to stick to my choice of being free and being myself again but i was feeling exhausted , depressed and weak, now i read this and i feel stronger and encouraged to keep on going, as you say to learn how God sees me, how much He loves me and wants me to realize that when everybody has let me down He is right there for me. I dont really have a lot of friends because i lost them all trying to save a relationship that left nothing for me more than pain and violence so somethimes i feel like i have nobody to talk to or reach for words of solace, im trying to find my path in life again and even do is so hard, even harder than what i expected i know im in the right way, surrounding myself with people who really loves me, reading articles that give me advice on how to stay strong (i found your website in what i would call a miraculous accident and it has been such a blessing) and i have no words to thank you and thank God for sending me exactly what my heart needed, its so wonderful to see how powerful words are not only to hurt and destroy but to heal and soothe an aching heart.

      Blessings, Breaking free.

  3. I was in a verbally abusive relationship for a year and half, it also got physicall sometimes but definitely words hurt more than a punch and they stick to your heart forever. My ex boyfriend was perfect and charming , so much attention and caring amazed me and made me oblivious to the fact that it all was a lie, four months after we started dating everything changed for no reason, he was mad all the time, he would yell at me and right away apologized, i would forgive and forget, then the name calling started and it hit me like a bucket of cold water, my lovely boyfriend calling me a wh**** , i couldn believe it, he said he would never do it again, i believed him, of course he did it again, and again, insults that ive never heard, painful words coming from the person i loved the most, and then the crying and apologizing, of course i believed him ….. and of course it happened again, endless nights of not sleeping cuz he would lie next to me and start with the torture, you b****, you fat cow, you sl**, all i did was cry and cry , begged him to stop, then i got used to it, felt like i deserved it, i tried to avoid fights i felt like walking on eggshells, i made a ghost of myself, tried to dissapear so he wouldnt yell at me, i stopped smiling and being myself , i surrounded by violence and hate, i was desperate to find a way out, then i became numb, i heard his words but i didnt say i thing , i didnt fight back, i just stayed there, not feeling, not even crying, that was even worse bcs i didnt feel love for life , i had no dreams or ambitions, i was just an extension of him. I recently left the house we used to share thanks to my mother that always knew that there was something wrong, she prayed for me every night, she made me feel loved , she made me see that i had a wonderful family, that my dad loved me , that my brothers and friends loved me , that there was still life outside of my wold of abuse and violence. Im struggling right know, i pray every night for strenght, i catch myself thinking on going back to him and i have to fight those thoughts because i know i dont need al of that in my life again, its not easy specially bcs he shows up to my gym, he shows up where i work, he tries to contact me and convice me that he will change, he cries and i look at his beautiful face and see the guy i used to love, the one that i thought i would marry and i almost fall on his trap again, i know he is lying and playing with my emotions, i know that he is going to hurt me again and i hold my breath and walk away but its so hard, im confused , im lost, im 24 years old but i feel like a little girl cornered and scared, what should i do? how do i keep strong? how can i survive to this nightmare?

  4. My prayer for all women whose boyfriends are emotionally abusive is for courage and strength. May you connect with the right people, who can help you see how valuable, lovable, and important you are. May you connect with God, who is your source of power, inspiration, and strength. May your faith help you see yourself in a different light, and give you the power you need to get away from a boyfriend who is abusing you emotionally. Connect with God. Don’t lose heart.


  5. I have been with my boyfriend for over ten years, he has left me many times when he is angry alone without money. I have been a self sufficient woman for many years, now that I am aging it is difficult to find a job. I know without a doubt he is with other women, which he denies. I am left alone isolated out in the country, scared no job, and want to leave him. I feel like I am in a spiders web and need help to be pulled out of it. He is charming when he is with others watching him, and when alone there is no affection, he yells at me, blames me for not being spirtual enough. I had the courage to leave once and did go to a shelter, it became unbearable there as well. through my fear of being alone and honmeless, I say to myself, I can handle being alone. At least I have a roof over my head. But there is no emotional giving on his part. I feel like I am slowly dieing without emotional love. I appreciate the words I am reading here from other women as it gives me the strength to know I can get away and for good.

  6. Dear Sara,

    Thank you for sharing how you feel! It took alot of courage and strength to tell the truth here.

    You say you can’t tell anyone how you feel because it’s your fault — but you have to remember that it’s not your fault. It’s your boyfriend’s fault, and you are caught in a very common trap of believing that people won’t understand and they’ll blame you.

    You feel trapped and helpless, and you need to find a way to get your power back. The first step is talking about your relationship! Your boyfriend won’t be able to keep your son — but you need to get strong enough to talk about your life with your loved ones.

    Who is one of the closest people in your life? Close your eyes, and imagine telling that person the truth about your relationship.

    What will that person say to you?

  7. My boyfriend of 5 years and father to my child is emotionally abusive I think and a cheater he is always leaving all nite long having the same number call his phone that doesn’t even have a name just a letter that he ignores and then gets mad at me if I even glance at his phone when it’s poped up he tells and always tell me if he doesn’t like wat he does then to “kick rocks” he calls me names and says how worthless I a to him and how if I leave he will keep my son in scared he will he makes way more money them me and supports the household if I leave then I will have no were to go he is only nice when he realy did something wrong but I love him he I fell in love with him for how he treated kids and how we could laugh now there is no laughter just me crying and him callin me a crybaby he says he’s sorry and he loves me but idk wat to do he makes me have sex n if I don’t he gets mad or ill wake up to him doing wat he wants to me I don’t know wat realy is going on but I’m scared if I leave he will keep my son who I love with my whole heart I can’t tell anyone cuz it’s my fault I don’t leave I just needed to say something so this is it

  8. Dear Joan,

    Both you and your boyfriend know he is emotionally abusive, and that he can’t commit to a relationship with you. Now, it’s up to you (actually, it’s always been up to you!).

    Do you want to stay with a man who treats you this way? What keeps you connected to him?

    I wrote this article for you:

    When Your Husband Uses Money to Control You

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts.


  9. My boyfriend of almost 10 years is always making excuses for everything he does and then blaming me because I make him break up with me. One of my biggest issues is that he promised to give me an insurance policy in case something happens to him. He has told me this many times and now says he won’t because it is my fault that our relationship is bad. If he doesn’t care what happens to me if something happens to him, does he really care for me? He uses money as his weapon against me. I feel that he cannot truly have a committed relationship because as soon as something happens not to this liking he breaks up with me, and then wants me back. This has been his cycle for the 9 years of our relationship. He is also separated from his wife, whom he will never divorce. The last time we broke up I told him he was emotionally and verbally abusive, and he agreed. But he always goes back to the same behavior, which, of course, if my fault. All he wants is TLC. How can you give someone TLC when he is constantly doing things to hurt you? I do care about him, but I am tired of the same of conversations, which really go no where. He always tells me I haven’t changed and he has. I want more out of life then fighting all the time.

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