NOTE: This blog is written about a male abuser and a female victim. However, men could benefit from this book also. It could help a man identify himself as abuser, when he may not know he is. It can also help a man identify his abuser because the same tactics can be used by women to abuse men.)
Abuse comes in all forms not just physical. Sometimes emotional abuse is harder to overcome. Emotional abuse is harder to see than the physical bruises or scars. Often the one being abused doesn't even know they are being abused, they just know they are not happy and don't know why.
Emotional abuse can occur in all relationships:
Daughter/Mom or Dad;
Son/Mom or Dad;
between two friends;
and any other relationship.
In this book Avery Neal directs it towards the Male/Female relationship (married or boyfriend/girlfriend).
An emotional abuser is someone who uses certain tactics, practices, concepts, etc., to gain control over another person emotionally.
They can be well liked by everyone , friends, co-workers, members of their church, neighbors, other family members, but with the one they live and sleep with is a different story. They can make that person feel horrible, but also bonded to them in such a way that the person will do anything to make them happy.
How does an abuser gain control over their victim?
A concept called Traumatic Bonding.
This is a when the abuser uses kindness and abusiveness intermingled. One minute he is kind and compassionate, the next he is verbally abusing you. You don't give up because he is, after all, a sweet person – sometimes. This is how he controls you and keeps you.
What are some other clues or results of Emotional Abuse?
Tip Toeing is a self-preservation technique that many women can identify with.
At one time you felt comfortable speaking up and saying what was on your mind. At some point, it changes and you realize if you say a certain thing, he will punish you somehow (verbally). You learn what to say, when to say it, how to say it and what not to say. In the end, you may shut down completely.
Another technique an abusive man may use to make you dependent on him is Gaslighting:
Gaslighting is a term taken from the 1944 movie “Gaslight” with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman.
In the movie Charles Boyer (the husband) does things to cause Ingrid Bergman (the wife) doubt her sanity and rely more on him.
This is a form of psychological abuse. It is making subtle and increasing changes in a relationship to make you feel that you are going crazy. It weakens your self confidence. You become depressed.
The abuser's repentance:
He says he is sorry, but he doesn't change the behavior. He is only saying he is sorry to temporarily appease you. He will not change his behavior because in the end, it works for him in controlling you.
After a few times of apologies and then repeating the behavior, you will probably give up and accept that he will never change. At that moment, he has won the battle.
You may learn to deal with the abuser by "cozying" up to them. You agree with them when you really don't agree, you cave in to avoid conflict.
When your self esteem is low, after repeated psychological abuse, you begin to wonder if their statements are true. The crazier the abuser can make you feel, the more power he has over you.
Here is a list of “possible” reactions of the abuser to control you:
When you don't say, do, or react the way they want you to, they lash out at you (sometimes in the form of yelling or insulting).
The abuser gives you the silent treatment. They ignore you. For a period of time, you don't exist.
This is different that when they withdraw emotionally, which can seem like the same thing.
However, withdrawing emotionally means they can be really nice, treat you good, but withhold affection (either verbal or physical). You lose that emotional connection even though he is treating you “good” (on the surface). You keep thinking he will come around and eventually, he does...but at his own convenience when he thinks he has strengthened his control over you.
He may say things that “belittle” you. It may be something about your appearance, the way you talk, your religious beliefs, your political beliefs, anything that is personal to you, he can use to belittle you.
This tears away at your self confidence and BINGO! He has gained more power over you. This is especially true if you genuinely believe these “belittles” are true.
The abuser may play the victim. In this action, he will say or do something to hurt you and then make you feel bad for him.
For example, he says you are not what he really wanted but you are the best he can do, because he isn't handsome enough. He doesn't believe this, he is only saying it to draw you in to him through sympathy. This one works best with a sensitive woman.
The last tactic I want to highlight is the one where the abuser turns the table on you. In other words, he does something hurtful to you BECAUSE of something you did to him. In his view, you caused it and he was only taking up for himself, which isn't the truth.
As you can see, identifying an abuser from someone who is just rebelling can be tricky. If the person does all of the above (and maybe some things that are not mentioned, but are equally controlling), you can probably safely say they are an abuser.
However, if a person only does one of the above or maybe two, it could be they are just immature emotionally and don't know how to deal with certain issues.
If you determine the person is actually an abuser and you are in an abusive relationship, you have three choices:
1. Stay in the relationship the way it is and remain abused;
2) Seek professional help such as therapy;
3) Leave the relationship.
If you have the opportunity to read this book,
I recommend you read it.
No matter what the situation,
the knowledge can help you now and in the future.
If you know someone who can use this information,
refer this book to them.
I got my copy from the library on audio. It was free! Use your library.
If you can't find it at your library, you can purchase it here:
Did you identify with any of the above behaviors? Have you come out of an emotionally controlling relationship? If so, how did you break the bond? Do you know someone who is or has been in an emotionally abusive relationship? Please share your thoughts and stories to help others.