Because of its lack of physical scars, emotional abuse often goes undetected by family members, friends and even the victims themselves. Though it does not result in physical scars, emotional abuse can be just as damaging, if not more so, than physical abuse. Those who have lived through emotional abuse in Minnesota often experience PTSD, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and substance abuse issues later on in life. According to HuffPost Life, emotional abuse is a way in which the abuser gains power and control and can take many forms, including belittling, name-calling, criticizing, insulting, gaslighting, shaming, intimidating, stonewalling, lying and ignoring.

Though subtle, emotional abuse does come with a few warning signs. If a person second-guesses him or herself or constantly self-edits to avoid disappointing his or her partner, emotional abuse is probably present. If one partner constantly says hurtful things about the other and disguises them as “jokes,” he or she may be an emotional abuser. If one partner requires constant check-ins and wants to know where the other is and who the other is with at all times, he or she may be emotionally abusive.

Emotionally abusive people also use “gaslighting” to manipulate their partners. Gaslighting involves instilling self-doubt by distorting or denying reality. A manipulative person might tell the other that their version of events does not make sense or that it is faulty in some way.

If a person is hot and cold with his or her affections, refuses to acknowledge the other party’s strengths but points out all of his or her weaknesses or withholds affection, sex or money to punish the other, he or she is likely an emotional abuser. A victim should also suspect emotional abuse if he or she finds him or herself feeling sorry for the abuser and making excuses for the abuser’s behavior (such as blaming a childhood incident or past relationship for the behavior). Lack of sexual desire is another sign of emotional abuse.

VeryWell Mind details how victims should handle emotional abuse and the abuser. For one, the victim should make his or her mental health a priority and stop worrying about pleasing the other person. Two, the victim should establish boundaries. The victim should discuss with the abuser what will happen when the insults and name-calling begin, and then hold true to those boundaries.

Three, the victim needs to stop blaming him or herself and realize he or she cannot fix the abusive person. The victim should also refrain from engaging with the abusive person and simply walk away from an escalating situation. Finally, if the abusive person has no intentions of changing, the victim should work on an exit plan.