By | April 8, 2019 8 Comments

Will emotional abuse become physical abuse?

emotional abuseIf you are targeted by a sociopath, you will endure emotional abuse.

Sociopaths — meaning people with antisocial, narcissistic, borderline, histrionic or psychopathic personality disorders — live their lives by manipulating and exploiting others. So if you have any kind of extensive or ongoing involvement with a sociopath, you will be manipulated, deceived and betrayed. It’s just a matter of how badly.

Manipulation, deceit and betrayal are all forms of emotional abuse.

Why? Because society runs on trust, and sociopaths violate trust. When the trust you place in someone is violated, you suffer an emotional wound.

But will emotional abuse become physical abuse? The answer is, maybe.

What is emotional abuse?

There is no official, concise definition of emotional abuse. Typically, emotional abuse is defined via specific examples of offensive behavior, such as:

  • Manipulating your emotions
  • Lying
  • Bullying
  • Saying you are unattractive
  • Flirting with others and cheating
  • Silent treatment
  • Changing what he/she wants
  • Refusing to offer support when you need it
  • Trying to convince others that you are crazy
  • Humiliating you
  • Shaming you
  • Blaming you
  • Making you feel guilty
  • Intimidation
  • Minimizing hurtful behavior
  • Revealing private information about you
  • Threatening suicide

So essentially, emotional abuse is any ongoing, intentional behavior that makes you feel bad.

Keep in mind that emotional abuse doesn’t just happen in the context of romantic relationships:

  • Sociopathic parents always emotionally abuse their children — they are incapable of providing appropriate love and concern for their children’s development.
  • Sociopathic siblings torment their brothers and sisters. In fact, sociopaths typically take advantage of any family member who has something they want.
  • Sociopathic bosses may shame, blame and rage at employees.
  • Sociopathic employees may undermine co-workers and stab them in the back.
  • Sociopathic neighbors may harass anyone in the community.
  • Sociopathic friends may act more like parasites than friends.

Will emotional abuse become physical abuse?

Whether emotional abuse becomes physical abuse depends on the nature of the relationship and the particular sociopath. Typically, emotional abuse becomes physical abuse behind closed doors. So that means it happens most often in intimate relationships and families.

Some sociopaths do start out with emotional abuse and later escalate to physical abuse. Essentially they are exerting more and more power and control over you.

Often, they train you to accept the abuse. They do this by engaging in relatively mild abuse at first, and then gradually ramping up the negative behavior.

For emotional abuse, they may start out by making a critical remark, and when you take offense, say that they’re sorry, they didn’t mean it. The jabs may slowly become meaner, or the lies more blatant, until the behavior escalates to the silent treatment and threats.

Somewhere along the line, the abuse may become physical. Again, at first it may be a slight push, followed by an apology — it was an accident. Then the sociopath may hit you harder. If you stay and tolerate it, the next incident is more violent. It may continue to escalate, until you possibly end up in the hospital or dead.

Many sociopaths do not engage in physical abuse

Many sociopaths never lift a hand in physical abuse — all of their destructive behavior is emotional abuse (including psychological and verbal abuse). Some people will stay with someone who is tormenting them emotionally because, “at least he (or she) isn’t hitting me.”

Emotional abuse is never acceptable. In fact, it is often more damaging than physical abuse.

Why? One reason is because you can’t get any support. When people don’t see cuts and bruises, they often don’t take you seriously. This is especially true when the sociopath presents as charming and helpful in the community or workplace, so people cannot imagine that he or she is a monster at home.

Another reason is because you begin to doubt yourself. You wonder what you are doing wrong that makes the sociopath treat you so badly — not realizing that the answer is nothing.

If you feel that a partner or family member is becoming abusive, either emotionally or physically, do not allow it to escalate. The longer you accept the sociopath’s apologies and promises not to do it again, the more you will lose confidence, your belief in yourself and your ability to end the involvement.

Abuse wears you down. Don’t get so low that you can’t get out of the situation.

For advice, check out the Lovefraud webinar:

Escaping the sociopath and rebuilding your life


Posted in: Donna Andersen

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I agree that some sociopaths are violent and some aren’t. But I have evidence that every relationship they have isn’t the same. I’ve been told by a witness that my ex hit his wife, he got into a rage with me and his next victim became frightened of his rages too but I don’t think he actually hit her but I’m not sure. The rages came when he was challenged and I only saw it twice as I was fairly easygoing with him. My ex abused me emotionally and it was very subtle, if he hadn’t found someone to go traveling with I suspect I’d still be with him.
His next victim challenged his behaviour and held out for the relationship she wanted, she’s some sort of mentor and counsellor and tried her best to help him, she now believes he’s beyond help,
After she threw him out (much kudos to her) we spoke at length and I planted the idea that he’s a sociopath in her head but she wasn’t sure, we haven’t spoken recently but if she’s anything like me she will have come to the conclusion that he’s got a serious personality disorder. I’m in touch with his daughter and she’s friends with both of us so watch this space!


I was grabbed by the shoulders several times, shoved around some, but that was the extent of HIS physical abuse. ALL the rest was emotional, verbal, sexual; threats of being killed (oftentimes on some lonely place where no one would see, he said). His rages were awesome to behold, or very subtlely spoken, only me knowing the intent of what he had said. In public, he was usually somewhat on good behavior. It was years later, when I was told, that he actually treated me very shabby in public, and everyone knew it! A good friend of his quit visiting us, later he told me, he couldn’t stand to see how I was being treated. No one in my family, neighbors ever stepped in to help. A few even blamed ME for leaving the younger boys (HS kids by then )..his next wife only stayed around a year or so; she did what I had failed to do; leave when the handwriting was on the wall early on. Even then, she had to get a cellphone from the local crisis center, hide out in several places, and hide her vehicle, so he wouldn’t sabetoge it. He has had a 3rd wife for some years now; no idea how he treats her. I’ve been told, this one stands up for herself, tells him off, and he shuts up his big mouth!


Sorry to hear that you were blamed. That happened to me too when I told a few people the situation.


I saw there is an organization Raliance to end sexual violence. It is funded by the NFL. Good since DV is an issue with some football players.


hurtingbadly- As slim says, get away, stay away. Go back to your country. Let us know how it goes.


I totally agree. I never saw my sociopath husband improve. I didn’t get the context of the relationship at first. I thought he wanted the same things as me, such as a healthy loving relationship. But I now realize he never wanted that, he just wanted to control me. He would be mean for no reason and never apologize. Something as simple as me saying “Good morning” would set him into a tirade of complaining. I have read that some people get better, but I find that hard to believe. If someone operates on manipulation it just seems like how can they even begin to understand empathy


I just have a question, I was in a relationship for only a little over 5 months. I got fed up with the whole thing during one if his tantrum and childish moments, or rather his Mr. Hyde moments, I told him I had been seeing someone and have sex with the man for over a month,as well I did cut his ego down as best I could letting him know he meant nothing to me. All of this of course was a lie, But I did it in Hope’s he would not attempt to contact me anymore and so that he wouldn’t think he had won and that I was crying over the whole crappy thing. Will he still attempt to contact me again? Out of all the “silent treatments I went through, none were more than a few days long. It’s been almost 4 weeks since I have heard from him. And I am praying it will continue, just wanted to know if what I did will keep him away?


I would think so but I’m not sure. I guess time will tell.

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