There are many different types of verbal and emotional abuse, all of which are damaging but some more so than others. A perfect example of this is silent treatment as opposed to name-calling or passive-aggressiveness. When I was a child, my dad regularly gave my brother and I the silent treatment in an effort to “punish” us when we had done something wrong. Naturally, the silent treatment is, in my opinion and I think most would agree, the least intrusive and hurtful form of emotional abuse.
Name-calling is pretty self-explanatory, and occurs when the abuser calls the victim names, of varying degrees of severity, including whore, slut, bitch, fucking cunt, stupid, and plenty of others. Passive-aggressiveness is a more subtle but equally damaging expression
of verbal abuse. Some solid examples of passive-aggressiveness are such behaviors as using body language to express feelings, such as disappointment being expressed by the shaking the head, frustration is expressed by getting up in someone’s face in an effort to intimidate, irritation is expressed by a rolling of the eyes or turning of the body away from the person in an attempt to reject the victim, or even a raise or specific change in one’s tone of voice can very obviously be a way to make the victim feel in some way belittled or demeaned.
There is one form of emotional abuse which I have personally experienced on a level that is beyond anything I have ever seen, even in any movies, and it’s been going on for many, many years. I believe most people would agree is the most damaging, frustrating of all the forms of emotional and verbal abuse. I’m talking about mind games. Mind games occur when the abuser has covert, coercive, manipulative intentions masked by innocent sounding communication, causing confusion and preventing the victim from guessing the perpetrator’s real objective, which is almost always confrontational and antagonistic in nature. Often times the abuser is trying to twist the situation around and make the victim believe that the disagreement is her fault, as well as to make her feel insignificant and irrelevant.
One of the mind games that I have personally experienced continuously throughout my nearly 19-year miserable marriage, is the guilt trip and chronic pouting about the lack of sex in the relationship. There have been days when my husband spent his entire work day going on and on and on about how unattractive and undesired I make him feel and no matter what I say, he comes back with another angle. There is only one solution to this kind of mind game and that is a permanent and significant increase in the amount of and quality of intimate relations between husband and wife, or more appropriately, abuser and victim. I’m here to tell you that I have tried saying every possible thing to defuse this kind of increasingly frustrating and anger-provoking mind game. Even saying to the abuser that more sex will be the outcome of the game playing is not enough: on this one you have to actually show the abuser through actions, not words.
Even in the event the victim does give in and agree to more frequent sex, it often still does not solve the problem brought forth by the abuser. Another mind game that is equally if not more frustrating than the sex guilt trip is that of brainwashing.
Brainwashing consists of many tactics, one of which is saying one thing yet doing another, in an effort to make the victim question her own motives and integrity as an individual, as well as to make her feel badly about herself
Brainwashing is particularly harrowing in that it is often associated with terrorist hostage tactics. The best way to put it is this: the abuser is trying to make the victim believe what he believes about the victim, say that she is worthless, lazy, unattractive and can’t do anything right, by changing the victim’s perception of herself. Brainwashing is without a doubt largely about mind control, and to make the abuser feel better about himself.
Brainwashing does not take place over the course of one evening, or even two, three, or four. It takes a great deal of time to be successful but once it has worked and the victim does begin having a different perception of herself, it take a great deal of time to reverse the damage that has been done. I know this because in 19 years I have gone from a strong-willed, independent and headstrong 21-year-old college student to a 41-year-old stay at home mom who has had more issues arise than I would ever admit to on the first post of a new blog. I actually hate my life most of the time, which is why it’s not surprising that I would have gotten myself into trouble doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, just to escape the horrible situation I am in, even if only temporarily.
That being said, emotional abuse is in most circumstances far more damaging long-term than physical abuse, partly due to the way in which is actually changes the way in which a victim regards herself and the world around her.
If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship in which mind or psychological games are being used, don’t wait for it to escalate. Seek help immediately from a counselor or psychologist, not just for yourself but for the abuser as well. The best way to end this type of abuse, on the other hand, would be to leave the abuser immediately and file for a divorce. It takes a very strong individual to accomplish this, but the longer you wait the more difficult and less strong you will be. Don’t doubt yourself, you can do this. If you would like to talk to someone, I am always available and would be happy to be your designated peer counselor.