“Is This Psychological Abuse, or Am I Being Too Sensitive?”

What is Psychological Abuse?


According to the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, emotional abuse (also referred to as mental or psychological abuse) is associated with putting an intimate partner down, making them feel bad about themself, calling them names, making them think they’re crazy, playing mind games, and making them feel guilty. The Child Protective Services says, by the time children in the United States reach the age of 18, 12.5% of them have experienced a form of maltreatment– physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Researchers state that the variations in methodology could be leading to an underestimation of this percentage, though. For college women, research papers show that 40%-89% of them experience emotional abuse. 



How Can This Affect Us?

Victims of this type of abuse can suffer from 5 main effects: 

1. Lowered Self-Esteem: 

The University of Michigan Health System says that because abusers aim to make victims feel worthless, the persistent debasement that the victim faces results in the lowering of self esteem. 

2. Problems Thriving

The American Humane Association states that infants who are maltreated may die, and children may experience slower development. This can result in insecurities and problems connecting with others. 

3. Mood Changes: points out that victims may become suicidal. Victims may also develop anxiety and depression. 

4. Behavioral Problems:

The American Humane Association points explains that mentally abused children may continue the cycle of abuse when they have children. Some children who deal with this may also develop aggressive and destructive behaviors, including consuming alcohol and drugs. 

5. Physical Reactions:

The University of Michigan Health Center also states that pain in the body is yet another effect of psychological abuse. It can lead to stomach pain, gastrointestinal problems, limb pain, back pain, and headaches. 



How Can We Help?




  • Placing a pinwheel, the symbol for child abuse prevention in your workspace or somewhere for others to see. (It is National Child Abuse Prevention Month!)



Another way to help raise awareness is using the hashtag #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou. Back in 2016, Zahira Kelly started using the hashtag to raise awareness about domestic abuse like verbal assault. People are still using the hashtag today, but here are a few tweets from when it first started gaining momentum: 

Songs That Promote Awareness 

In this first song, Words as Weapons by Birdy, her lyrics allude to emotional abuse from a significant other.

I feel your knife as it goes right in
Cut to my core but I’m not bleeding
All that you say trying to make me small
Well the bigger you get, the harder you fall

She also says that she refuses to give satisfaction to her abuser by showing them her tears.

You think that you’re deep under my skin
You’re trying to keep me suffering
If you use your words as a weapon
Then as a weapon, I’ll shed no tears
I’ll shed no tears
I’ll shed no tears

This second song, Family Portrait by Pink, is from the viewpoint of a maltreated child who witnesses domestic violence.

Daddy please stop yellin’, I can’t stand the sound
Make mama stop cryin’, ’cause I need you around
My mama she loves you, no matter what she says, its true
I know that she hurts you, but remember I love you, too
I ran away today, ran from the noise, ran away
Don’t wanna go back to that place, but don’t have no choice, no way
It ain’t easy growin’ up in World War three
Never knowin’ what love could be, well I’ve seen
I don’t want love to destroy me like it did my family

My Song

For the song I wrote, I tried to make my it have an empowering tone. I feel like it’s quite underrated– the fact that people always have the option to put their well-being first and leave their abusers.
Disclaimer: This is the first song I’ve digitally composed, so it may not sound amazing.

Here are the lyrics:

You act like you know what’s best for me

You’re dragging me down quite a bit lately  

I’m too good for that

Don’t treat me like trash

Here you come again, a wolf in sheep’s clothing,

thinking you’ll deceive me, but now I’m free

I’m free from the chains

Of all my pain

You took your fair share of hate,

used it to build my wall of shame

I’m out here thriving without you

And now I’m putting  

Myself first (x4)

You’ve told me you’re sorry too many times

Why should I believe you

When all you tell are lies, lies, lies, and lies  

I’m putting myself first (x3)


Blaszczak-Boxe, Agata. “Startling Number Of U.S. Children Experience Emotional Or Physical Abuse.” The Huffington Post,, 3 June 2014,

(BirthdaySuit_). “#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he throw your deepest insecurities  in your face when y’all argue & then get angrier when you react & call u crazy”. May 10, 2016, 12:19 PM, Tweet.

(detrecotage). “#maybehedoesnthityou but he tries to control  who you talk to, where you go, what friends you can have, and  acts like it’s out of his love.”. May 9, 2016, 5:29 PM, Tweet.

“Depressed Girl.” Pexels, 13 Nov. 2016,

Dicker, Rachel. “#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou Highlights the Reality of Emotional Abuse.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 11 May 2016, 3:55,

Dawson, Ella (brosandprose). “#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but  he never lets you forget that he could leave you for someone prettier, less “slutty,” less emotional, less damaged.”. May 9, 2016, 4:22PM, Tweet.

Giana (glow_for_it). “#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he belittles your mental illness and makes you feel terrible about things you cannot control”.  May 8, 2016, 5:47 PM, Tweet.

Juanita (Just_Juanita). “#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he makes sure you believe that you’re too broken/damaged to ever be wanted by anyone else”. May 9, 2016, 11:08 AM, Tweet.

Kelly, Zahira (bad_dominicana). “Maybe he doesnt hit u. He just complains about your belly after u had has kids. & tells u to get skinny before he gets a cuter 15 yr old”. May 1, 2016, 3:15 PM, Tweet.

Kelly, Zahira (bad_dominicana). “Maybe he doesnt hit u. he just rages irf a single cup is left on the table becasue  now the house is a pig sty& u make him miserable u scum.”. May 1, 2016, 3:11 PM, Tweet.

“National Child Abuse Prevention Month Pinwheel.” New Hampshire Children’s Trust, NH Charitable Foundation,

Palai, Gabriela. “Person Looking Out.”,

“Power and Control Wheel.” Https://, Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs,

Wyden, Genevieve Van. “Mother Abandonment & the Effects on the Child.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 15 Apr. 2015,

Yuval (thursday_grl). “#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but  there’s always the feeling that he might When he gets angry, u jump over backwards to fix things just so he’ll stop”. May 9, 2016, 11:01 AM, Tweet.

Share this project
  1. April 28, 2018 by Caroline.Ortiz

    Oh my goodness!!! I’m really impressed by your project. Not only do I think you chose a really worthwhile topic, one that means a lot to me personally and I think it needs to be addressed, but I can’t believe you wrote your own song! I’ve tried writing music before and I know how difficult it is– so good for you! You sound great. I like how you organized all your information so it was very clear and straightforward, and you have easy links to click and make change. Awesome job!

  2. April 28, 2018 by Kiran Sundar

    Your song is so good!!! (Not sure if this reference will resonate, but it has some very Steven Universe-esque vibes, which is super cool to me.) I also love the number of resources you have for people who want to help and spread awareness. Great song, great message, great page.

  3. April 29, 2018 by Mattea Horne

    This is such an awesome project. It’s so important to teach young adults how to recognize healthy vs. abusive (be it physically or mentally) relationships, and this project does a great job of bringing the focus onto psychological abuse.

  4. May 01, 2018 by Abigail.Malin

    Alyssa your project was so unique in the way that you chose to research this topic in relation to your class! I love the way you connected music to such a current issue and show the ways that these different songs teach us how to view relationships. I think that people, especially our age, are sometimes taught by media what is right or wrong in terms of relationships, which can be unhealthy. I know many people in high school think that unless there is physical proof of abuse, then it is not real. So thank you for researching this topic and sharing it in such a ncie way!

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