Emotional abuse statistic high in college relationships

Kali Daniel

When someone hurts you, it can be hard to talk about, especially if he or she is someone you love and do not want to lose.

While the “It’s On Us” campaign and the campus climate survey (page 1A) provide insight to sexual and physical abuse, there is still another category that is all-too-common and all-too-confusing: emotional abuse.

Almost 90 percent of college relationships show signs of emotional abuse, according to a study on courtship violence among college students.

“Emotional abuse is any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity and self-worth,” according to Healthy Place, a website for mental health resources.

I do not speak lightly about the subject. My last relationship was rooted deeply in emotional abuse, and the effects continue to influence my judgment.

When I wanted to hang out with friends, my boyfriend would ask me why I did not want to hang out with him and bring it up when I came back. When we would argue, he would bring up past mistakes I had made and use them against me. When I told him something bothered me or made me uncomfortable, he would continue doing said action because he found it humorous.

The biggest problem of all, though, was I had no idea I was in an emotionally abusive relationship until my good friend pointed it out to me.

Marist College proposed the perfect list for identifying emotional abuse, including:

  • Name-calling
  • Yelling
  • Intentional embarrassment
  • Preventing you from seeing/talking to friends
  • Blaming you for their actions: “Why did you make me do that?”
  • Threatening suicide to prevent a breakup
  • Guilting you when you do not consent to sex
  • Sending repeated text messages to “check in”

In my case, I tried to explain away his behaviors. “He is just having a bad day,” or, “He is just in a bad mood” never justified his dehumanizing actions.

It took me months to build up the courage to end the relationship, but it came down to self-worth. I was worth more than being treated like garbage. I deserved someone who would love me despite my mistakes, trust me to make my own judgments and forgive past errors.

If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, the road ahead of you is not easy, but it is rewarding. If you can, consider counseling for you and your partner. Set boundaries. If nothing seems to work, find a supportive friend, family member or counselor to lean on and end the relationship.

Relationships should be supportive, uplifting and celebratory. While arguments may be common and healthy for growth, there is a fine line between emotional love and emotional abuse.

For more information about emotional abuse, visit loveisrespect.org or plan a visit with Student Counseling Services at 256-765-5215.