Scary Facts About Hidden Abuse

Not all abuse comes with visible bruises. Hidden abuse can be just as painful and difficult to heal from. The abuse you may be unable to see attacks and creates emotional, psychological, sexual, and financial damage. One of the scariest parts of hidden abuse is that not everyone will believe the victim. They’re often left feeling like they must prove that the abuse even happened in the first place.

Emotional Abuse Facts

Emotional abuse is when someone tries to control and manipulate a victim by using emotionally abusive tactics. They may use abusive words and other bullying behaviors to lower a victim’s self-esteem until they feel totally worthless. A few scary facts about emotional abuse:

  • The relationship usually starts off looking like the perfect romance.
  • Many victims of emotional abuse don’t even realize they’re being abused.
  • It often occurs in cycles, with an abusive period followed by apologies and promises to keep the victim from leaving.
  • Not all emotional abuse is loud- one of the most common tactics an abuser uses is the silent treatment.

Psychological Abuse Facts

Psychological abusers use tactics like gaslighting to make their victims question their own sanity. They typically isolate their victim from their friends and family, until they become totally dependent on them, which often allows the abuse to go on for a long time since the victim doesn’t have a support system. A few scary facts about psychological abuse:

  • The abuser often places blame on the victim for why they say and do the cruel things they do.
  • Threats are used as a way for the abuser to assert their control over the victim and keep them in a constant state of fear.
  • If the victim shows signs of distress (i.e., crying) from the abuse, it usually triggers the abuser to get even angrier.
  • Victims of psychological abuse often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, depression, and anxiety.

Sexual Abuse Facts

While sexual abuse can involve a physical act, it can also include withholding sex from a partner. This type of abuse can be used as a weapon to manipulate the victim into doing what the abuser wants. It can also include criticizing a victim for their sexual performance to lower their self-esteem. A few scary facts about sexual abuse:

  • Marital rape is four times more common than rape by a stranger.
  • Marital rape is considered a crime in every state, however, most abusers are not prosecuted.
  • Sexual withholding doesn’t have to involve the act of sex- refusing to hold hands, hug, kiss, or allow other forms of touch can also be a form of abuse.
  • Sexual abuse is 40 to 45% more likely to occur in relationships that also involve verbal or physical abuse.

Financial Abuse Facts

 Financial abuse can occur in many ways and usually leaves the victim feeling like they don’t have a way out of the relationship. An abuser may deny the victim access to their bank account or credit cards, accumulate debt in the victim’s name, and even refuse to let them get a job. A few scary facts about financial abuse:

  • Financial abuse occurs in 99% of relationships that involve another form of abuse.
  • It’s the number one reason victims return to an abusive relationship after leaving.
  • The abuse usually starts subtly, with the abuser offering to take over the finances to alleviate some of the victim’s stress.
  • Financial abusers often try to continue the abuse after a marriage ends by refusing to pay child or spousal support.

These hidden forms of abuse can be extremely damaging to the victim and can take a long time to heal from. There are resources available to help if you are a victim of hidden abuse, or know someone who is:

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Sexual Assault Hotline

You can also check out these resources on our website to help you learn more, get help and move forward. 

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Essential Resources

If you’re facing legal/custody battles, a mental health crisis, an urgent medical issue, serious emotional problems, including suicidal thoughts, please seek help from the appropriate professionals near you.

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis line: 1-800-356-5395
Crisis text line: Text “help” to 741741
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) Resources Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview


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