This is the other half of the previously posted article on Emotional Abuse (EA) from Heartless Bitches dot com, written by Natalie P. She wrote it from her own experience, but not-so-oddly, it is IDENTICAL to the experience I had with an abuser. I bet it matches the experience of many victims/targets of abuse out there. Know this – you are not alone. This type of treatment of another human being is ABUSE. And, you DO NOT have to (nor should you) tolerate it:
What are the signs and symptoms of Emotional Abuse?
A common misconception is that emotional abuse has to take the form of a partner yelling over every little thing, belittling or constantly criticizing a partner. Other forms of emotional abuse, can however, be just as damaging, and far less overt. They can include being disrespectful, discourteous, rude, condescending, patronizing, critical, judgemental, “joking” insults, lying, repeatedly “forgetting” promises and agreements, betrayal of trust, “setting you up”, and “revising” history.
To outsiders, abusers often appear as decent, successful, sensitive, calm and nondescript. To their families, they are often controlling, self-absorbed, hypercritical, compulsive, childish and mean-spirited. Most of abusers are actually BOTH. It is the disparity between the one they love and the one that harms them that keeps the woman confused. He may intersperse episodes of abuse with words of love, telling her that she is “the best thing that has ever happened” to him, and that he wants to start treating her that way, confusing her further. She keeps hoping that if she does enough, if she gives enough, he will stop hurting her and the loving, caring side of him will prevail. Unfortunately, this is a fallacy that often keeps the woman in the relationship for far too long. Ask yourself: Do you have a drawer full of “apology” jewellery, or a closet full of “apology” clothes?
One of the most difficult things about identifying and leaving someone who is a psychological and emotional abuser, is that the REALLY successful abusers are highly intelligent and hide their abuse incredibly well. They may have shelves of filled with psychology books; many are well-read and very well spoken. They know how to twist and manipulate language and people. They present an exterior of calm, rational self-control, when in reality, they have no internal control of their own pain and chaotic self-hate, so they try to control others, and drive others to LOSE control. If an abuser can cause YOU to lose control, it proves how healthy HE is, so he can say, explicitly, or implicitly (it’s amazing how sighs, and rolling of the eyes can accomplish as much as words), “There you go again, losing it, crying and yelling. I’m not the one who needs therapy, *you* are.” Unfortunately, if an outsider sees the abuse at all, all they see is an outburst from you, NOT the abuse that triggered it. It may make you feel as if you have had all your lifelines withdrawn, as if you are going crazy, because nobody believes you that this charming, “nice”, helpful, successful man could be so incredibly psychologically cruel and deliberately hurtful.
Abusers play the pushme-pull-you game threatening to withdraw their affections, dropping statements out of the blue intended to destabilize. This has the effect of making their partners insecure and uncertain, but that plays right into the abuser’s hand as he then can accuse the partner of being “too needy”. Ploys such as casually talking about how he’s thinking of taking a job in another city are one such example of destabilizing talk. In this kind of case, it doesn’t start with any discussion of your relationship, or what might happen to it – he talks only of the cool job opportunity, with no recognition of the impact it might have on you, your relationship, or your family.
An emotional abuser may make fun of his partner, or make subtle or not-so-subtle disparaging remarks about her while with other friends, and encourage the friends to make disparaging remarks. He will then be sure to tell her about the jokes they made and act surprised when she doesn’t find them “funny”. He may even tell her that she is overreacting and that it was “all in fun” and that no harm was meant by the “joking”.
Not all emotional abusers criticize their partners directly – sometimes it can be as simple as constantly criticizing how someone keeps a kitchen, or complaining about the mess in the house, or continuous grumbling about the laundry, or complaining about the noise and mess the kids make. He will make her think it is her job to keep him happy, and imply that household things are contributing to his unhappiness and bad temper.
An emotional abuser will seem to encourage his partner to grow, to develop new skills and expand her horizons, but then will do things to impede or prevent that progress. He will mope and sigh about how little time she has for him now that she is working more or taking that course, or back in school. Or, he will “encourage” her to advance herself, but refuse to provide any additional assistance around the house/family to ease her workload, effectively making it impossible for her to take that course or job. If he DOES provide assistance, he will let her know how HARD it is for him, and how MUCH he is doing for her, every step of the way… he will play the “sad puppy” to the hilt, trying to get her to feel guilty for the burdens she has put on him.
An Emotional abuser will try to make his partner responsible for his happiness. Either through direct comments, or indirect implications, the abuser will let his partner know that he is not happy, that it is somehow her fault, and that she must fix it. The problem is, no matter what she does, it will never be enough, and it won’t ultimately make him happy.
The abuser may take this behavior to an extreme, insisting that he is the best partner or relationship she will ever have, the only one who can truly love her (despite all her faults!), and that if she doesn’t live up to his expectations, he will leave the relationship. Since abuse is really about control, the abuser knows he can have the upper hand in the relationship if he can keep her uncertain and insecure.
Emotional abusers overcompensate for their self-hate with a warped kind of narcissism. They genuinely believe that YOU SHOULD know how they feel, and know what to do to make them happy. AND that you should be willing to do those things without having to be asked or told. They believe that they DESERVE to be treated better, to be put first, to be given preferential treatment. He will expect you to read his mind. He lives by the “if you really loved me, you’d KNOW how I feel” game, and of course will punish you for not being telepathic. If confronted with the unreasonable nature of this behavior, the abuser will blame his partner for his lack of communication – it will always be her fault that he couldn’t tell her what he needed or wanted. He will project HIS behavior on her, and insist that he couldn’t talk to her about what was bothering him because she was too intense, or critical, or angry, or judgemental, or needy. Don’t buy it. Those are HIS issues. Not yours.
And speaking of narcissism, the emotional abuser will be envious and resentful if YOU get more attention than HE does in a social setting. He will likely punish you for it by one of any number of techniques: ignoring you, sulking, disappearing for hours, flirting heavily with someone else, or leaving the party or function without notifying you.
Emotional abusers expect the rest of the household to live by their waking, sleeping and eating schedules. If his schedule is interrupted or disturbed, or if the partner chooses not to follow the same patterns, the abuser feels justified in “punishing” the offender. This can include the full battery of emotional abuse and passive-aggressive tactics – because in the abuser’s mind, the partner or household member “deserves” it for not caring enough about him to live by his schedules and activity calendar.
Emotional abusers may use punishment tactics like leaving (without a word to you), a party or function that you both went to. They will have socially plausible, pathos-laden excuses for their unannounced departure, like they couldn’t find you, or they were tired and wanted to go home. However, the REAL reason they left without a word, was to punish you; to wind you up, to get you worried about them, and ultimately, to have you feel guilty for not paying enough attention to them. When you confront an abuser on the concept of COURTESY around these sorts of things, the abuser will either apologize weakly, (but the damage has been done), or insist that your distress over his behavior is overreacting.
Emotional abusers will remind you of your flaws under the guise of trying to be “helpful” or sensitive. He may make comments like, “You seem unhappy with your body” – even though you have made no comments about your body image or otherwise, or “You are running late again – you never can get anywhere on time”, or “There doesn’t seem to be much point in planning things with you.” All are comments intended to unbalance and remind you of what he perceives to be your weaknesses.