Background Previous studies have shown a relation between intimate partner violence (IPV) and postpartum depression (PPD). However, these studies have primarily focused on physical and sexual violence as predictors for postpartum depression and little attention has been given to emotional violence (EV), despite emotional violence having been well reported as the most common type of violence experienced by women. This present study aimed to investigate the association between various types of emotional experience during life with present partner and postnatal depressive symptoms among women in Vietnam. Methods A total of 1,274 pregnant women were recruited from 24 communities in the Dong Anh District, Hanoi, Vietnam. They were interviewed four times: (a) at enrolment (before week 24 of pregnancy); (b) at a gestational age of 30–34 weeks; (c) 24–48 hours after delivery; and (d) 4–12 weeks after delivery. Emotional violence and postnatal depressive symptoms were measured using a questionnaire developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS), respectively. Results A total of 639 (50.4%) women experienced at least one type of emotional violence with their present partner, whereas 104 women (8.2%) experienced postnatal depressive symptoms. Women exposed to emotional violence were more likely to experience postnatal depressive symptoms (OR = 3.15; 95%CI: 1.17–8.51). Other statistically significant predictors of increased postnatal depressive symptoms included type of employment, lack of family support after delivery, lower level of education, husband’s preference for a specific sex of child, presence of mental disorder, and depression during pregnancy. Conclusions Among Vietnamese women, there was a statistically significant association between exposure to emotional violence with their present partner and postpartum depression. The findings indicate an urgent need for screening for all acts of emotional violence as risk factors for postnatal depressive symptoms.