by Teresia Smith
When you’re in an abusive situation, it’s easy to miss the subtle early signs that can eventually build up to a steady stream of abusive behavior. Emotional or verbal abuse doesn’t begin with physical violence, although threats of violence directed toward you may be implied. Emotional abuse is distinguished by a person’s words, actions, and the regularity of the behaviors. It may start gradually and at first be shocking and cause you to think you misunderstood, but then it begins happening more frequently and again and again. Emotional abuse is designed to frighten and control you.
Abuse affects people from all socio-economic, cultural, religious and racial backgrounds. People of any age or gender can experience abuse. No matter whom you are, you do not deserve to be abused and it is definitely not your fault. Being aware of how abusers manipulate their victims can help you identify abuse and get out of that relationship before it progresses.
Using information from Healthline, let’s look at some of the different tactics abusers use to undermine your self-esteem. One of the most used is name-calling. An abuser will call you ‘stupid’, ‘worthless’ or ‘loser” or any other insult. Another common tactic is character assassination. When talking to you or about you to others, they say you are always wrong, always late, bad-tempered, and you are the one who always messes up everything. Their goal is to weaken your self-confidence and make you easier to control.
Sometimes an abuser will yell or swear at you to intimidate you and make you feel small. They may not physically hit you, but they may pound a hole in the wall or throw things near you. They might even say something like, “There’s no telling what I might do,” to keep things vague and leave you afraid. Maybe they are more subtle and are patronizing toward you, implying you are just not smart enough for things. Or they may try to embarrass you in public by making fun of you in front of others or sharing your secrets or picking a fight. Abusers can work to make you feel like things that bother you are silly by trivializing your feelings. When you try to share your feelings you receive eye rolling and smirking in return. Abusers sometimes try to shatter your self-confidence by insulting your appearance, telling you that you are lucky they chose you since they could be with someone who is much more attractive. They may constantly put down your interests, and belittle your accomplishments. If they don’t just brush off your successes as insignificant, they will claim responsibility for them. Once an abuser finds something that upsets you, they will push that button every chance they get. An abusers goal is to maintain power and control and using these tactics, they work to manipulate you.
There are so many other manipulations that abusers use. Trust your instincts and if you think your relationship may be abusive, talk to someone. Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential crisis counseling and a safe place to talk about your relationship. We offer services to survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
You may reach our Jackson County Office at 256.574.5826 for an appointment or you may reach a trained crisis counselor 24/7 at HELPline at 256.716.1000. We are here for you.