Most victims of abuse can recount numerous instances of odd, sudden rages their abusers would regularly fly into about seemingly trivial matters. Here is one of mine:
My Ex had a ‘thing’ about me doing ANYTHING when I was on the phone with him.
While we were talking, if I made ANY noise I was ORDERED to STOP whatever I was doing and concentrate 100% on talking to HIM and nothing else.
If I rustled a paper, ate anything, ran water, closed a drawer – anything – he’d get very annoyed, rage (yell) at me to STOP making noise on the phone, insisted we hang up and that I could call him back when I was ‘finished’. He did this ALL THE TIME. He got INCREDIBLY annoyed and raged about it quite often during our phone calls.
It seemed he HATED my phone. Because it was an ‘internet’ phone that I use because it’s MUCH cheaper than paying Ma Bell and AT&T for all the extras they charge for. (far be it for me to want to SAVE MONEY on phone bills). But there was NOTHING wrong with the phone or the service.
NO ONE ELSE complained about this except HIM. I even asked other people if it was ‘noisy’ when I spoke with them or had bad connections. None of them had any complaints. But he RAILED about my phone consistently. He carried on about the “fancy newfangled” phone I had with all the latest features and service. I even went so far as to order standard landline phone service but then cancelled the order when I saw what it would cost with the same features.
But finally, I realized what it was about. It wasn’t about the phone or even his disapproval that I didn’t have the same service HE did. That was the subject. But the object? It was about control (controlling ME and his own inability to control his own anger – which likely had nothing to do with my phone). Exerting power and control over their target/victim in any way they can is the standard abuser’s M.O. More often than not, that is the reason behind these odd and sudden snarling, disapproving rages.
It makes them feel powerful ie: they have power over someone else. Control. They LIKE that. Because they feel utterly powerless otherwise. They NEED it like an addict needs heroin. So this tactic is a standard tool in the abuser’s toolbox – even if they’re not aware of it — and I’m convinced that on SOME level, they are.
One thing that was often very telling about these situations too is that – well, you would think these SAME “phone” RULES would apply to HIM when he was talking to ME on the phone. But they DIDN’T.
HE would loudly chomp mouth-open on chips or other crunchy food, smack his lips, rustle through papers, take out trash, run water, slam doors, rattle dishes and pans, use LOUD party noisemakers that made shrill crashing noises RIGHT into my ear while we talked on the phone.
But all THAT was OK when HE did it – that was DIFFERENT.
He was NOT REQUIRED to follow the “NO doing ANYTHING ELSE or making NOISE while on the phone” rule that he expected ME to follow – and he FLAUNTED it too – just as I describe above.
One thing about abusers is that they think they are better than their victims. More important. Superior. Omnipotent. Perfect. Entitled. YOU follow THEIR rules. NOT the other way around. That’s their attitude and it reveals itself in such controlling, hypocritical behavior – particularly when it is constant or recurrent. They are hypocrites, dictators and narcissists.
In his mind, HE had the RIGHT phone service (superior). I had the WRONG phone service (one he disapproved of and therefore inferior) so I DESERVED that flaunted hypocrisy and the verbal abuse he meted out over this – and many other such instances in our relationship.
THIS is how abusers JUSTIFY their abusive, hypocritical and controlling behavior towards their victims – by defining them as WRONG and INFERIOR – both in the abuser’s mind, AND to his victim.
With others, they impose no such nazi-like, hypocritical rule. Only those nearest and dearest to them are subject to that!
I ultimately realized that Mister Ex was that way about a LOT of things, and that this is in keeping with the abusive person’s attitude of superiority, omnipotence and entitlement in their closest relationships.
Dan had VERY particular rules about how he expected ME to behave at all times in our relationship (no matter what he did HIMSELF). Sometimes they were spoken. Sometimes they were not. And IF I DIDN’T FOLLOW those rules, I was often subject to his disapproval in the form of snarling rage and humiliation at that moment, and always to his verbal hostility about it forever thereafter in the form of insults, disparaging remarks, name-calling, verbal jabs, and being made the butt of “jokes”. These mostly occurred in private, where others could not see or hear, but public humiliation was one of his tools, too.
And although he had a lot of RULES of behavior he expected ME to follow in our relationship, Dan WOULD NOT ABIDE ANY type of rules or restrictions being placed upon HIS OWN behavior. Even when I asked him not to do something or to consider changing some behavior or language that was upsetting or hurtful – which I rarely did, he would self-righteously state that he was NOT going to change or ‘censor’ himself to suit ME – that HE wasn’t going to “walk on eggshells” to keep from upsetting me (though it was OK with him that I had to do that around HIM).
Again, THAT was “different”.
Any ‘RULES’ or requirements to modify behavior in our relationship only applied to me. And I suffered ABUSE if I didn’t comply. This attitude – which is typical of abusers – was that HE was perfect and superior, and I was defective and inferior. He was always RIGHT. I was always WRONG. So if there were issues – ANY issues, no matter how trivial – it was MY fault and I was the one who had to CHANGE to ‘fix’ it. Because he was PERFECT in his own view.
And it was just fine with him that I WAS THE ONE who was constantly walking on eggshells trying to avoid these rages, constant criticisms, and verbally hostile attacks and remarks. And constantly trying to ‘please’ him to keep him happy and non-critical.
Of course that was impossible because the problem was with HIM, not me or anything I was doing (or not).
This anecdote is just one example of the constant emotional siege I lived under for almost four years. Like most targets/victims, I have numerous tales of this type of abuse from him. For FOUR years I lived beneath his oppressive RULES, expectations of very specific behaviors from me (spoken or otherwise), his various seeming neuroses, constant criticisms and sudden rages with the object of control, his assertion of HIS superiority and the hypocrisy that goes along with that, his constant verbal and emotional abuse, and the blame for it all – on top of it. NO WONDER I was getting depressed.
Although he would fly into a snarling rage at the most trivial matters at the drop of a hat and verbally abuse me over them for MONTHS afterward, I was the one he claimed was “oversensitive”.
~~~~~~~And this is the epitome of an abuser’s projection and crazymaking behavior.~~~~~~~
I was his doormat. His whipping post. I was his older sisters he hated. I was his Mother he calls by her first name and with whom had no substantial relationship with and didn’t want one with. I was all the women in life he was angry at for reasons that existed long before I ever knew him (his sisters, perhaps). I was the dog that gets kicked when the emotional 6-year-old living inside that adult male’s Mensan body could not or would not address or express HIS feelings directly, or in a non-abusive way — or take responsibility for his own feelings or his own anger, choosing instead to blame and punish ME for them. Then when he finally succeeded at hurting and upsetting me with all this, he called ME crazy, angry, and ‘oversensitive’.
This CRAZYMAKING is all classic abuser behavior. With an abuser, it is ALWAYS someone ELSE’S fault. I’m sure he tells his new idealized (and soon to be devalued) mate that the failure of our relationship was ALL MY FAULT.
For FOUR YEARS he told me that every issue we ever had in our relationship was ALL MY FAULT – every single time anything came up – without fail. NOTHING EVER got resolved in that relationship. Not ONE issue was ever resolved. This is why.
He told our COUNSELLOR that “90% of the problems in our relationship are caused by “her issues”” — when they were ALL caused by HIS abuse and angry, controlling behavior.
This incessant blame and projection continued even into the counsellor’s office. It often does with abusers.
When we first met, the failure of his previous marriage and the relationship directly before ours was SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT according to him. His previous partner also left in tears, and demanded no contact with him. Now I know why.
He wanted me to believe HE never did or said anything wrong in any of his previous relationships – OR his relationship with me. Broken promises. Emotional manipulation. “Pushing buttons” to get a rise out of someone to deliberately upset them (a form of controlling behavior usually followed by the victim being called ‘crazy’ or ‘angry’ or ‘oversensitive’). Total lack of empathy for anyone else’s feelings (besides his own – which he always punished someone ELSE for). Sudden rages about trivial matters. Name-calling, Verbal hostility. Deriding “jokes”. Blame. Projection.
He did it ALL with me and before me. But the failure of his relationships – both familial and personal/intimate – were all SOMEONE ELSE’S fault, according to him.
In REALITY though, and as is always the case in any abusive relationship, ALL issues centered around, or were caused by his abuse. That WAS THE ISSUE in the relationship. NOT the phone. NOT anything else. Those things were just the vehicles he used for delivery.
He will ALWAYS deny it. He will ALWAYS blame the victim (or someone – ANYONE else) for it. With an abuser, it’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault because in THEIR minds, they are faultless, superior, and entitled to their victim’s submission.