After reading the Wikipedia articles on psychological abuse and verbal abuse, it appears that emotions are regularly abused as a form of social control, but that the cultural definitions of abuse often fail to account for these easily concealed forms of manipulation.
Some highlights include gaslighting (pretending “nothing happened”) and the silent treatment, basically sending the message that a “loved one” doesn’t exist.
Standpoint comes in because there is no way to leave the cycle of abuse without the intellectual realization that abuse has occurred. Without this realization, people either succumb to others as victims or adopt these behaviors as “natural” rather than examples of unacknowledged social control.
This isn’t to say abuse is inevitable – there are people who have never been abused, and they probably recognize abuse as aberrant. I have a hunch that pre-Columbian Native American tribes featured far less abuse than Western societies due to their smaller sizes and more stable cultures. This ties in to Dunbar’s number – behavior is better (and no police are needed) within intimate social groups of 150 or fewer (see Kaplan and Haenlein; Tom Standage).