Here are some of the tactics abusers use to break you down and keep you there. How many do you recognize?
Verbal Assaults: Berating, belittling, criticizing, name calling, screaming, threatening, excessive blaming, and using sarcasm and humiliation. Blowing flaws out of proportion and making fun of you in front of others. Over time, this type of abuse erodes your sense of self confidence and self-worth.
Domination: The abuser wants to control your every action. They have to have their own way, and will resort to threats to get it. When you allow someone else to dominate you, you can lose respect for yourself.
Emotional Blackmail: The abuser plays on your fear, guilt, compassion, values, or other “hot buttons” to get what they want. This could include threats to end the relationship, the “cold shoulder,” or use other controlling fear tactics.
Gaslighting: The other person may deny that certain events occurred or that certain things were said. You know differently. The other person may deny your perceptions, memory and very sanity. It is this act of abuse which makes you begin to think you are crazy or losing your mind.
Unpredictable Responses: Drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts. Whenever someone in your life reacts very differently at different times to the same behavior from you, tells you one thing one day and the opposite the next, or likes something you do one day and hates it the next, you are being abused with unpredictable responses.
This behavior is damaging because it puts you always on edge. You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and you can never know what’s expected of you. You must remain hypervigilant, waiting for the other person’s next outburst or change of mood.
An alcoholic or drug abuser is likely to act this way. Living with someone like this is tremendously demanding and anxiety provoking, causing the abused person to feel constantly frightened, unsettled and off balance.
Abusive Expectations: The other person places unreasonable demands on you and wants you to put everything else aside to tend to their needs. It could be a demand for constant attention, frequent sex, or a requirement that you spend all your free time with the person. But no matter how much you give, it’s never enough. You are subjected to constant criticism, and you are constantly berated because you don’t fulfill all this person’s needs.
Constant Chaos: The other person may deliberately start arguments and be in constant conflict with others. The person may be “addicted to drama” since it creates excitement.