“Emotional manipulation sounds innocuous but can be one of the most toxic forms of abuse a person can go through because it feels like there’s nothing of any real substance to talk about,” explains Jo Emerson human behaviour expert (jo-emerson.com). “However, it’s the constant chipping away at your self-esteem that does the long-term damage and leaves you feeling powerless. It usually starts very subtly and the emotional abuser is typically all charm and loving concern at the start of the relationship, making the victim feel they must be imagining the current scenario. If you’re regularly being put down and belittled, controlled (for example, if your own time and money are no longer yours to decide what to do with) and verbally threatened, then you’re likely in an abusive relationship. If, when you try to talk about it with your partner, they deny everything or tell you it’s all your fault, then you’re definitely experiencing abuse. The only course of action is to leave the relationship – people like this don’t often change and they certainly don’t amend their behaviour while they still have you in their sights. You’re like a drug to them and control and manipulation is part of their sickness. They need help but you’re never going to be the person to give them that, so the most loving thing you can do for you both (and any children involved) is to distance yourself.” If you’re unsure about your situation or how your partner is making you feel, take a look online or go in to the Citizens Advice Bureau (citizensadvice.org.uk).