When you hear the word abuse, you might instantly think of cuts and bruises. While it’s true that physical abuse can be absolutely brutal, not all abuse leaves bruises. Master manipulators often use other forms of abuse to establish complete control over others. When the abuse isn’t physical, it can leave the victim confused. Manipulative forms of abuse can go on for years, breaking the victim down slowly until they are completely reliant on their abuser. Abuse victims are often left with no self-confidence, unable to separate the truth from lies.
You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship with a master manipulator without even realizing it. It’s important to be able to recognize these four behaviors that constitute emotional abuse:
Insults are a way of breaking you down. An abuser may insult your looks, your intelligence, your job, your family or anything else that’s important to you. Their goal is to upset you and offend you, then make you feel guilty for being upset. They’ll tell you that you’re too sensitive, and they’ll justify their insults or backhanded compliments. Anyone who tears you down instead of building you up isn’t worth your time. Find someone who compliments you and roots for you. Not someone who wants you to feel bad about yourself.
2. Pushing Boundaries
This form of abuse can be hard to identify. If your partner shows up at your work to take you to lunch, it might be a great surprise. But if they start dropping by unannounced more often – when you’re at work or out with your friends – that might be a red flag. If they’re constantly going through your phone or demand to know exactly where you are and who you’re with at all times, it shows that they have no respect for your boundaries. At this point, you might start to feel uncomfortable or even a little violated by the intrusions. If you bring it up to your partner, they will most likely make you feel guilty. It’s important to trust your instincts and protect your boundaries.
Gaslighting occurs when one partner causes the other to question their own perception of reality. An abuser does this by challenging their partner’s memory, then denying that they ever did or said something. If the victim becomes emotional, the abuser tell them they are too sensitive or paranoid. The abuser constantly rewrites situations, denying and avoiding until the victim begins to doubt their own memory or sanity. Once the gaslighter has broken the victim, they are in complete control of every situation. The victim becomes dependent on his or her abuser.
Wanting or needing companionship is an innate desire in human beings. When a person is completely alone, they are at their most vulnerable. Master manipulators know this all too well. When they choose a victim, they will immediately being trying to separate their victim from friends and family. When ties with friends and family members have been cut, the victim is left completely dependent on the abuser. This lets the abuser attack the victim’s self-esteem, distort their perceptions and use them. If your most trusted friends and family members are voicing concern about your new partner, listen to what they have to say before you dismiss them. They care about you and they want to see you happy and safe.
Learn more about the dangers of emotional abuse in the video below: