…. BUT HE’S SO NICE TO ME -
the rest of the time!
PREVIOUS: Direct Abusers
RESOURCE: Dr Irene’s great Abuse & Recovery site
REMINDER: See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.
COVERT ABUSE (CA) – Emotional, Mental & Spiritual
• Emotional abuse is one of the most under-reported types in the US today. Blatant emotional cruelty may be noticed & definitely felt by a Victim (V). (even if they ignore or excuse it) but daily or periodic abuse in smaller doses can too easily be ignored, as it gets woven into the fabric of the relationship. Typically the V. will say : “It’s not all bad, You don’t know him the way I do. I know she loves me. When something goes wrong it’s really my fault. He didn’t meant it. She’s just under a lot of pressure. I don’t want to miss out on the good things we have together. He needs me. It’s only because she’s in pain” ….
• Sneaky Perpetrators (P) are also full of S-H & FoA, but they hide it better. They too think they’re unique, so different from others that they don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Yet they actually have a lot in common with all other Ps, sharing similar thinking & action patterns. While they may never lift a finger to ‘harm’ anyone, the internal damage they do to others, with it’s long-term scars, are much harder to heal. Victims are threatened & terrorized (emotionally) when they try to object to how they’re being treated. A result is that they don’t believe they have a right to identify themselves as victims, or that their mate, adult-child, boss….is actually abusive.
• TO outsiders, emotional abusers (E.A.s) don’t stand out – they usually present themselves as decent, successful, calm. They have a talent for creating an image for the public eye that contradicts what happens behind closed doors. They use public venues to have an adoring audience & as an outlet for their ‘better’ qualities (work, church, politics….), but will take out their emotional sickness on those who are closest, most vulnerable & most dependent on them. Ps needs a safe place to let their dirty hair down where no one will judge them, hold them accountable, object or leave!
TO their families, they’re often controlling, self-absorbed, hypercritical, compulsive, childish and mean-spirited. What’s so confusing is that this type of abuser is actually BOTH. But the abusive side always wins out in private.
• CAs are passive-aggressive, which means they show their anger (aggression) sideways (passively) by withholding information, deliberately stalling, being stubborn, sulking, and/or not trying their best. They ignore reasonable requests to put in a reasonable amount of effort into their closest relationships. They pick partners who are push-overs, with low self-esteem, who find it easy to make excuses for the other person’s terrible behavior.
EXP: Ps will make you choose an action that affects you both (dinner, movie, trip….) & then blame you because they didn’t like it or it didn’t work out. They also may deny that you asked them for their opinion or input in the first place, accusing you of being controlling. You get set up!
Abusers & Therapy
a. There are some covert abusers who seek out therapy because they’re in very real pain, and will even go for years & years, but aren’t willing to dig into their unconscious (their Shadow) in order to clean out their pain & correct their CDs. These narcissists, borderlines, paranoids…. are trying to get relief by ‘using’ the therapist as their nurturing parent rather than learning how to parent themselves. Unhealthy counselors will fall into the trap & become enablers, while the healthier ones will challenge the client to grow, which is never well-received!
b. However, most deeply entrenched abusers (hard cases who have too much to lose) won’t go to therapy because the problem is with other people, never them. If pressed, their reasons for not going may be: lack of time or money, they are handling things themselves, they don’t believe in airing dirty laundry, they tried before & it never helped, it’s all psycho-babble & B.S. anyway….
c. If they do go for some kind of help, it doesn’t last & there’s no genuine improvement. Maybe they’ve been told by their adult-children, friends, a spouse….. that they’re abusive & need help. Maybe they’re forced to go in lieu of losing their job or serving time. In any case, their real motives are:
– to get the mate or child to return to their clutches
– to save face, their job, or prevent some other loss
– to get better at their all-consuming passion – psychological warfare – by using their newly learned therapeutic info & tools, but in a distorted form
– so they can demand credit for ‘trying’, but will inevitably blame the V. when nothing changes – meaning that the V. isn’t behaving as the P wants.
SO, it’s completely unrealistic for us to believe that the P. is going to counseling to face their underlying damage, the same way you can’t trust a married boyfriend who keeps promising to leave his spouse.
The game “LHIT – Look how hard I’ve tried” from GAMES PEOPLE PLAY, by Eric Berne, lays out the pattern & can be applied to many different situations – gov’t leaders, poker players, office workers, spouses… The person acts like they’re making an effort but really aren’t. (Read more)
BOTH Direct & Indirect abusers harm mates, children, friends & co-workers, but NEVER because of anything the Vs are or have done! Their mis-treatment is all on their own shoulders. Therefore, no effort on the V’s part to stop the abuse will work. As with others addicts, the P must be willing to face & own their actions & deeper motives – & get outside help. Al-Anon teaches the 3 Cs for Vs: “I didn’t Cause it, I can’t Control it, I can’t Cure it.”
The GOOD NEWS:
Given enough time, many victims get to the point where they suddenly wake up to their rights, understanding & finally believing the abuse is not deserved. They’ve had it, & decide to get help for themselves. And the faster we can come to this conclusion, the less wounding we have to heal. SO listen to that still small voice whispering in the background, to your gut & all the comments from others about your situation. YOU can change your life. If the abuser can not tolerate the changes in you (likely), then plan your escape!
NEXT: Being In Denial