LOVE IS NOT : Manipulative

Learn to recognize and avoid emotional and verbal abuse in relationships and help to educate others. We all deserve a life free from abuse.



is a social media campaign designed to empower and educate young people to recognize and combat signs of emotional and verbal abuse in their relationships. This campaign is powered by Open Space Mediation.



that early relationship abuse education and intervention can help young people avoid a lifetime of conflict cycles, domestic abuse, and codependency.

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Everyone deserves a life free of abuse, but often when you are in the middle of an abusive relationship, it can be easy to miss the undercurrent of abusive behavior. Emotional abuse can be very subtle. Recognizing signs of emotional and verbal is key in gaining awareness, making empowered decisions, and building safe boundaries. Once you know what the “red flags” are, you are better able to see them waving miles away!


What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is one of the hardest forms of abuse to identify. It can be subtle or it can be overt and manipulative. Many people don't realize that abuse isn't just physical.



Signs of Psychological Abuse

  • Threatening to hurt you, your loved ones, your pets, your children, or your possessions
  • Controlling the time you spend with others, or monitoring where you go
  • Controlling what you wear, often with the accusation that you attract too much attention
  • Damaging or stealing your belongings
  • Blaming you for the abuse, saying that you deserve what happens or that you instigated the problem
  • Gaslighting: saying things to make you question your perception of reality, such as “That never happened, you never remember correctly"

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Attacking your sense of self worth
  • Insulting you, calling you names, criticizing you, humiliating you
  • Acting jealous or possessive, accusing you of being with other partners
  • Withholding affection or acknowledgement in order to punish you
  • Cheating on you intentionally
  • Lying to you


Boundary Setting

Young people often find themselves in situations with partners where they struggle to communicate their needs, values, or boundaries. Even when their guts are telling them that someone is crossing a line, they may struggle to find the language to express what they’re feeling and what they want. Setting boundaries allow people to communicate what is OK and what is not, and learning to do this is a lifelong skill that everyone could use help with.



We often tell young people to “use your words” - but it’s not always that easy! Especially when people are emotionally dysregulated, it can be extremely challenging to articulate what is bothering them and communicate in an effective, non-reactive way. Learning how to respond to conflict and situations that make us uncomfortable can help us de-escalate scary situations, but it takes some practice. 



Self-care is an important part of maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself! It means taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Too often we give our friends and partners more love, encouragement, and grace than we do ourselves. If we want others to treat us with respect, we have to be willing and able to give ourselves respect first, although it doesn’t always come naturally for many of us - especially if we’ve been in abusive relationships. 



58% of college students say they don’t know what to do to help someone who is a victim of dating abuse. It can be difficult to know how to support a friend who is suffering from relationship abuse. If you haven’t dealt with it before, you might wonder why your friend doesn’t “just leave him”, not realizing that ending abusive relationships is far more complicated than other kinds of breakups. 





Intimate partner violence alone affects more than 12 million people every year.

96% of dating adults report experiencing emotional and verbal abuse.

48% of people experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner.

52% of college women know someone who's experienced dating abuse.

57% of college students say it's difficult to identify dating and intimate partner abuse

58% of college students say they don't know how to help a victim of dating abuse.



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