Emotional abuse is prohibited in Iceland

Threats, humiliation, intense monitoring, and using control to make you feel bad, are all examples of emotional abuse. If someone around you makes you feel this way or if you are experiencing any of these things, you are likely in an abusive relationship. People who abuse others often try to excuse it by blaming the other person or make excuses like being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or stress. Remember, it is never your fault if someone abuses you!

The repercussions of emotional abuse can run deeper than physical abuse. Emotional abuse leaves invisible wounds that are often difficult to grasp.

It could be emotional abuse when someone:

  • Doesn't respect how you feel.
  • Creates an oppressive atmosphere at home.
  • Yells at or threatens you or others in your home.
  • Lies and manipulates or misleads you.
  • Constantly criticizes you, your family or friends.
  • Attempts to control you with sulking or silence.
  • Tells you how and what to do.
  • Becomes angry for little or no reason.
  • Calls you belittling names.
  • Harasses you via phone or in person.
  • Restrains you in any way from seeing your family or friends.

Common threats against a foreign spouse

  • The woman can be deported with a single telephone call, either by giving the police or the Directorate of Immigration false information, or because he has friends there.
  • The man will get custody of their child or children because she is of foreign origin or that he will tell the authorities that she is an unfit mother.

There is no need to fear threats like these. Whether it concerns the right to stay in Iceland, which parent will have custody of children or something else entirely, is the decision of public authorities. They follow the law, examine the circumstances and instances of each case individually and base their decision on these factors. The result is never based on the wishes or claims of one person.

Cycle of violence

Violence in intimate relationships often follows the same behavioural pattern known as the cycle of violence.

  1. Tension builds up.
  2. At some point the tension is released in the form of physical or emotional abuse.
  3. “The honeymoon phase” follows where the abusive person is full of regret.

Then this vicious cycle repeats itself.

Get help

It is always best to talk to someone about how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. If you want assistance, contact abuse support centres for free: Bjarkarhlíð in Reykjavík, Bjarmahlíð in Akureyri or Sigurhæðir in Selfoss. It doesn‘t matter how long it has been since the abuse occurred.

Additionally, everyone, both adults or children, can talk to someone for free at 1717 (Red Cross helpline).

In Iceland, husband and wife both make decisions regarding family affairs and neither is in control over the other.

Shantaye‘s story

Shantaye was in an abusive relationship with her husband for eight months. He didn’t want her to have any friends or meet anyone without him. It escalated into pushing and physical abuse as well as financial and sexual abuse.

Know the red flags. English subtitles auto-generated

Have you scared or controlled your partner?

Jenný‘s story

Jenný shares her experience from an abusive relationship that she was in for 13 years. Her spouse abused both her and her children through control and threats. She left him when she simply could not take any more. Today she is free.

Jenný shares her story. English subtitels auto-generated

Do you recognize abuse?

See more stories


Linh is a 30 year old woman from Vietnam. She and Jón are married and have 2 children at preschool age. She found it hard to move alone from her home country 5 years ago and knows few people in this country. She does not speak English but her Icelandic is okay.

At first, Jón made sure she would not get bored but after he lost his job, he started drinking more and his mood became heavier. It seems like it does not matter what Linh does, Jón finds faults with it. One time when Linh is on her way out to meet other moms from the preschool, when Jón blocks the doorway and does not allow her to leave.

Is this abuse?

Available support

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Bjarkarhlíð is a center for people who have experienced abuse. There you get all the support and counseling you need in one place. All assistance is on your terms.

Bjarmahlíð in Akureyri

Bjarmahlíð is a center for people who have experienced abuse. There you get all the support and counseling you need in one place. All assistance is on your terms.


Heimilisfriður offers therapy for people who have abused someone in a close relationship.

Physical abuse

Physical violence is when someone hurts you physically, like with pinching, shoving, kicking, or punching. Threats of physical abuse are also physical violence.