Emotional abuse in friendship
Abusive Friendships Are Real. Here's How to Recognize You're in One
By William Morrison, M.D. on September 29, 2019
You deserve to feel safe with your friends.
Whenever people speak about abusive relationships in the media or with their friends, more often than not, they’re referencing romantic partnerships or family relationships.
While in the past, I’ve experienced both kinds of abuse, this time it was different.
And if I can be honest, it was something I wasn’t fully prepared for at first: It was at the hands of one of my very best friends.
I remember the first time we met, just like it was yesterday. We’d been exchanging witty tweets with one another on Twitter, and they expressed they were a fan of my writing work.
It was in 2011, and in Toronto, Twitter meetups (or as they were commonly referred to online “tweet-ups”) were big, so I didn’t think much of it. I was totally down to make a new friend, so we decided to meet up for coffee one day.
When we met, it was almost like going on a first date. If it didn’t work out, no harm, no foul. But we instantly clicked and became as thick as thieves — drinking bottles of wine in the park, making meals for one another, and attending concerts together.
We quickly became best friends, and wherever I went, they did, too.
At first, our relationship was pretty great. I’d found a person who I felt comfortable with, and who contributed to all parts of my life in a meaningful way.
But once we began sharing more vulnerable parts of ourselves, things changed.
I began to notice just how often they were wrapped up in a cycle of drama with people in our shared community. At first, I shrugged it off. But it felt as though the drama followed us wherever we went, and as I tried to be there for them and support them, it began to take a toll on my mental health.
One afternoon as we made our way to a local Starbucks, they began to ridicule a close mutual friend, trying to convince me that they were “kind of the worst. ” But when I pressed for details, they remarked that they were just “annoying” and a “try-hard.”
Baffled, I explained to them that I didn’t feel that way — and almost offended, they just rolled their eyes at me.
It felt as though my loyalty was being tested and I had failed.
Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a psychotherapist and expert in mental health shared in an interview with Refinery 29, that “Gaslighters are terrible gossip.”
As our relationship began to progress, I soon started to realize this to be true.
Each and every month, our group of friends would get together and bond over delicious food. We would either go to different restaurants, or cook for one another. On this night in question, a group of 5 of us headed to a popular Chinese restaurant in town known for its dumplings.
As we were laughing and sharing plates, this friend started to explain to the group — in explicit detail — things I had shared with them about my ex-partner in confidence.
While people had known I had dated this person, they didn’t know the details of our relationship, and I wasn’t ready to share. I certainly didn’t expect they would be spilled to the rest of the group that day.
I was not only embarrassed — I felt betrayed.
It made me self-conscious and left me wondering, “What is this person saying about me when I’m not around? What did other people know about me?”
They later told me the reason they shared that story was because our mutual friend was now speaking to him… but couldn’t they have asked for my consent first?
At first, I kept making excuses for them. I still felt responsible for them.
I didn’t know that what was happening was gaslighting or emotional abuse.
According to one study in 2013, youth and women between the ages of 20 and 35 are usually the typical victims of emotional abuse. This can include everything from verbal assault, dominance, control, isolation, ridicule, or the use of intimate knowledge for degradation.
More often than not, it can happen by those we’re in intimate relationships with including friendships.
Stats have shown that for 8 percent of people who experience verbal or physical bullying, the aggressor usually turns out to be a close friend.
Sometimes the signs are clear as day — and sometimes you might feel like you’re making the situation up in your head.
Since tensions between friends can sometimes be high, often times we can feel like the abuse isn’t real.
Dr. Fran Walfish, family and relationship psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, California, shares a few signs:
- Your friend lies to you. “If you catch them repeatedly lying to you, that’s a problem. A healthy relationship is based on trust,” explains Walfish.
- Your friend constantly ghosts you or doesn’t include you. “If you confront them, they become defensive or point the finger saying it’s your fault. Ask yourself, why aren’t they owning up to it?”
- They pressure you for large gifts, like money, and then gaslight you into thinking it was a “gift” for them rather than a loan.
- Your friend gives you the silent treatment, or makes you feel bad by criticizing you. This is the abuser’s way to control the power dynamic, Walfish explains. “You do not want to be in a close relationship where you feel put down or less than the other person.”
- Your friend doesn’t respect your boundaries or time.
Although leaving the situation may seem hopeless, there are ways out and different steps that one can take when attempting to leave an abusive friendship.
While open communication is usually the best policy, Dr. Walfish believes it’s best to not confront your abuser and leave quietly.
“It’s like setting yourself up. They’re probably gonna blame you, so it’s better to [be] gracious. These people do not handle rejection well,” she explains.
Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of medicine and a psychiatrist shares with Healthline: “You may need therapy if this relationship has been damaging to your feelings of self-worth and to understand why you entered this friendship and tolerated it in the first place in order to avoid going back into it or entering another abusive one. ”
Dr. Saltz also suggests that you make it clear to others including friends and family members that you won’t be around the other person any longer.
“Tell close friends or family what is happening and let them help you to stay separate,” she says.
She also thinks it’s wise to change any passwords this person may know, or means of access they have to your home or work.
Although at first it may feel difficult to leave, and once you have, like you’re mourning a loss, Dr. Walfish believes you’ll just be missing the friend you thought you had.
“Then pick yourself up, open your eyes, and start choosing a different kind of person to trust with your feelings,” she says. “Your feelings are precious and you need to be very discriminating about who you trust.”
It took me so long to understand that what I was experiencing was abuse.
Toxic people have a funny way of rewriting the narrative so that it always seems to be your fault.
Once I realized it was happening, it felt like a pit in my stomach.
“In abusive friendships, one is often left feeling badly,” Dr. Saltz says, which she notes leads to feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety, especially when they try to leave the situation.
Clinical psychologist and author Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, in an interview with Women’s Health, said that people often notice an increase in “anxiety, headaches, or stomach disturbance,” when trying to leave their toxic friendships.
This was definitely true for me.
I eventually started to see a therapist so that I could gain the strength and courage to move on.
As I met with my therapist and explained to her some of my actions as I tried to get out of this friendship, which some might see as unacceptable and perhaps, manipulative, she explained to me that it wasn’t my fault.
At the end of the day, I didn’t ask to be abused by this person — and as much as they may try to use it against me, it was unacceptable.
She continued to explain to me that my actions were understandable reactions to being triggered — though unsurprisingly, those reactions would later be used against me when our friendship ended, turning our other close friends against me.
Abusive friendships are hard to navigate, especially when you can’t see the warning signs.
This is why it’s so important that we talk openly about them.
A quick search, and you’ll see folks turning to sites like Reddit to ask questions like, “Is there such a thing as an abusive friendship?” or “How to move past an emotionally abusive friendship?”
Because as it stands, there’s very little out there to help individuals.
Yes, abusive friends are a thing. And yes, you can heal from them, too.
Abusive friendships are more than just drama — they’re real life, and they can be an insidious form of trauma.
You deserve healthy, fulfilling relationships that don’t leave you feeling fearful, anxious, or violated. And leaving an abusive friendship, while painful, can be empowering in the long run — and it’s vital for your mental and emotional health.
Amanda (Ama) Scriver is a freelance journalist best known for being fat, loud, and shouty on the internet. The things that bring her joy are bold lipstick, reality television, and potato chips. Her writing work has appeared on Leafly, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, FLARE, The Walrus, and Allure. She lives in Toronto, Canada. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.
8 Signs Your Friendship Might Be Abusive
Two people beside each other on a couch. One stares at the other, appearing upset. The other has their hands covering their face in distress.
“If you wanna be my lover,
You gotta get with my friends,
Make it last forever,
Friendship never ends”
—The Spice Girls, “Wannabe”
I wish that someone had told me this when I was little: Friendship is its own, special kind of love – and it comes with a special kind of heartbreak.
Beyond the construct of the nuclear family – outside the narrow social norms that privilege heterosexual marriage, romance, and blood relations above every other kind of kinship – friendship can be everything: hurt, healing, and everything in between.
For example, when you’re a suicidal trans girl runaway cut off from her blood family, like I used to be, your friends are the people who gather your bruised and broken parts up off the street and stitch them back together by hand.
Your friends show you how to fight back, how to make money, where to get hormones; they take care of you when you’re sick, and they give you beautiful new words to call yourself, since all the names you’ve been given since childhood are insults. Your friends teach you who you are, give you new dreams about who and what you can become.
Your friends are, sometimes literally, your life.
And when friendships have such power and importance, they carry the potential not only for beauty and healing, but for violence and abuse as well.
Nobody tells you this when you’re little.
Society gives us a map, however flawed, for the trajectory of romance: Most people have some sense of what is “health” and “unhealthy” in a romantic partnership (however skewed those ideas may be by gender stereotypes and Hollywood tropes).
We tend to give some weight to the idea that romantic and sexual relationships can be violent and abusive – even if we are taught to understand this primarily within a heterosexual and monogamous context.
But we are rarely, if ever, taught to nurture and tend to the health of our friendships. There is no socially accepted formula for beginning or maintaining a friendship, and even less for ending one.
This means that we are even less equipped to recognize – let alone respond to – violence or abuse between friends when it occurs.
But it does occur – and often in similar ways that abuse happens in other kinds of relationships, and for similar reasons. Because abuse is the misuse of power against others by those who do not know how to get their needs met in better ways – and like I said, sometimes friendships are the only route that we have to getting our needs met.
Some of the most terrifying and vicious abuse I’ve witnessed and experienced has happened “between friends. ” In that terrifying, incredible, exhilarating, vulnerable time when I had newly left my family and my friends were the only support I had, all kinds of things happened that I would not, now, consider okay.
Like the time when I was eighteen and my several-years-older gay best friend took me back to his house after a late night to “make sure I was safe,” and I woke up naked with his hand on my crotch the next morning.
Or when a group of friends sexually harassed and bullied me on an ongoing basis for a year, and then abandoned me after I attempted suicide.
Or the codependent best friendship I developed with a young queer person who refused to accept “no” for an answer when I couldn’t or didn’t want to hang out, and would punch me – hard enough to bruise – to show “how much I was hurting him.”
But I am not an innocent victim or blameless survivor in all of this. I, too, have done my share of unacceptable, manipulative, and violent things to friends. Sometimes because I didn’t know any better. Sometimes because I didn’t feel like I had a choice.
And most of the time, as either survivor or perpetrator, I didn’t know that what was happening was abuse, because I had never been taught that friendship was something that could be abusive.
So let’s change that, right here, right now.
This is a list of signs to recognize as abusive behavior in a friendship context.1. Your Friendship Is Based on Anxiety and Control, Rather Than Love and Mutual Support
In any kind of relationship, whether romantic, sexual, or platonic, a key indicator of abuse is presence of fear as a primary emotional force within the dynamic.
When abuse is present in a friendship, both survivor and perpetrator may be driven by intense feelings of anxiety, worry, and fear. Fear of abandonment. Fear of attack. Fear of saying no. Fear of telling the truth, of being wrong, of being hurt physically or psychologically, of seeking help outside the friendship, of not being able to survive alone.
The difference is that the friend who is perpetrating abuse responds to their fear by using emotional and/or physical violence to gain control, and thus a sense of safety, over their social landscape – including the other person.
On the other hand, the friend who is enduring abuse is made to feel afraid in order to render them less able to set boundaries and make changes to the relationship.
Of course, this kind of dynamic is always much clearer “on paper” than it is in real life: In real life, abusive friendships are murkier, the good mixed in with the bad, the love mixed in with the violence.
In college, I used to tell myself that the group of queer friends who constantly harassed me, denigrated my gender expression, and invalidated my experience of mental illness were just “doing it because they cared about me.”
When one of those friends told me that I was being “crazy” and “manipulative” for trying to set boundaries, I told myself that I should be grateful that they were taking the time to help me improve myself.
I told myself all this because, to be honest, I had never had a real group of queer friends before, and I didn’t know what I would do without them. I didn’t know that I deserved better. And I never once thought to apply the word “abuse” to the situation. Because abuse, I believed, was something that could only happen between parents and children and romantic or sexual partners.
Here is the truth about friendships: If it hurts you more than it heals you, then it might be abusive.
If you spend more time worrying about what your friend is going to think, or say, or do, than you do enjoying each other’s company, then you should ask yourself the question: What is really happening here?2. You Feel As Though the Norms of Your Friendship Are Non-Negotiable
The interior walls of an abusive friendship are rigid and unyielding. When a friend is abusing you, the friendship is often only permitted to happen in a particular kind of way.
One person supports the other, and never vice versa. The level of intensity in the friendship – the number of times in a week that you see each other, the kinds of things you do together, the other people you are “allowed” to spend time with – is permanently locked in high gear.
This dynamic of friend abuse is especially likely to develop within a context of isolation and dependency – when one or both friends are each other’s only access point to support or necessary resources, including emotional resources like care and affection.
When I was that desperate trans teenager, I had a best friend who I felt like I needed to see, or at least talk to, every single day – I didn’t know why, but if this didn’t happen, I would get a gripping, horrible feeling of desperation and loneliness.
This is because people tend to crave constancy and stability in relationships.
Psychologists call this the attachment need, and it is right up there with the need for food and shelter in terms of importance to most individuals. Folks who experience trauma and social marginalization – like, say, teen trans girls of color – are likely to feel this need much more intensely than people who are well-loved and validated by society all their lives.
But regardless of how attachment needs are experienced in a friendship, they are something that should be negotiated consensually.
In other words, we should talk about what we want from our friendships, much in the same way we should talk about what we want from our romantic and sexual partners.3. Your Friend Refuses to Respect Your Boundaries
A large part of being consensual about friendship expectations is respecting each other’s boundaries – something that mainstream society makes difficult by generally ignoring the concept of personal boundaries altogether.
Even when we do talk about boundaries, we tend to understand them as limitations on what we’re allowed to do – as in, boundaries tell us when and how we are not allowed to touch someone, talk to someone, be sexual with someone, and so on.
But I like to think about boundaries as the places where one individual’s personhood ends and another’s begins. That is, having good boundaries means having a clear understanding of the difference between your thoughts, feelings, and needs, and those of other people.
Crossing a boundary is making someone else’s needs about your own desires – like automatically interpreting a friend declining to hang out as a reflection of how important you are to them.
For example, I once had a very close friend who, in college, changed her lifestyle to include heavy drinking with large groups of people.
Because I get very emotionally triggered when I’m around large groups of folks who are drunk –it brings back terrible memories of being sexually assaulted at parties – I told this friend that while I still wanted to hang out with her one-on-one, I wouldn’t be joining her for parties where there would a lot of alcohol use.
I tried to make it clear that I wasn’t saying that she should stop drinking, or that there was anything wrong with drinking, just that I didn’t want to partake in it for personal reasons.
Still, my friend went ballistic.She sent me a barrage of angry e-mails, telling me that I was being selfish, immature, and substance-shaming, and then proceeded to tell all of our mutual friends that I had “gone crazy. ”
She had experienced my setting a boundary as a personal criticism, and responded by attacking me in an abusive way.4. Your Friend Regularly Touches You or Hits On You Non-Consensually
Non-consensual sexual contact is one of the most common forms of refusing to respect boundaries within a friendship. I’ve noticed that this can be especially common in certain gay and/or queer communities where the lines between friendship and sexual relationships can be very blurry.
I had a friend who actually licked me (!) non-consensually, on a regular basis. When I asked him to stop, he told me to “lighten up” and that he did this with “all his best friends”(!!).
However, sexual harassment and assault within friendships is extremely common across communities. Rape statistics show that the majority of sexual assaults actually happen between acquaintances.
Within an abusive friendship context, sexual harassment and assault are often disguised as “banter,”“play,” or “joking around. ” Sometimes, we explain this away, saying “he’s just like that,” “they don’t mean anything by it,” or “she always gets handsy when she’s drunk.”
But just because someone is supposedly trying to be funny or because you’ve known each other for years doesn’t make non-consensual sexual contact okay.5. There Is Physical Violence
I feel like this should be a no-brainer, but sadly, it isn’t. As a therapist, I’ve seen a lot of kids and teenagers especially who tell me about physical abuse that happens in their friendships.
And there’s usually some kind of explanation for this. “My friend only hits me when they’re drunk.” “My friend is going through a mental health crisis.” “I did something to deserve being hit.” “It’s not like it happens all the time – just once in a while.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid, teen, or adult. Your friends are not supposed to hit you or hurt you.
Ever.6. Your Friend Forces You to Take Responsibility for Their Health and/or Safety
A lot has been written about intimate partner violence situations in which one partner coerces the other into taking responsibility for their life: Essentially, the abusive partner uses the threat of their own death or injury to force the abused partner to provide them with intimacy and care.
So it always surprises me that we seldom talk about similar dynamics happening between friends. But it happens all the time – and much in the same way as it does in intimate partner violence dynamics.
When a friend repeatedly puts their life in your hands with the goal of making you do something for them, they aren’t showing you how much they trust you or how special you are to them – even if they genuinely think about it that way.
They are doing something emotionally violent and deeply unfair.7. You Are Made to Feel Like You’re Always Getting Something Wrong
Part of what makes friendships with abusive people so hard to talk about is the very fact that the abuse is happening within a friendship and not another kind of relationship.
This makes it easier for gaslighting and blame-shifting to happen, because the abusive friend can tell you that you are “being melodramatic” or “crazy” for suggesting that it’s even possible that something abusive or inappropriate is happening.
Just as society doesn’t recognize the importance or primacy of friendships, it also refuses to recognize the pain and compulsion that sometimes underlie them.
When trapped in a friendship with an abusive person, it can be easy to feel as though you are always getting something wrong, like your friend always has the perfect argument or rationalization for the way they are behaving.
An exercise I like to do with therapy clients who are recovering from psychological manipulation is to “unfocus” the memory of the abusive relationship – in other words, to temporarily let go of the precise details of what was said and where. Instead of thinking about words and facts, I ask my clients to focus on the feeling underneath the memory.
Gaslighting and manipulation is a trick of language; it happens on the level of words and complex thoughts. When we’re being psychologically abused, we get tangled up in details: reasons, arguments, debates, facts – all of which convince us that we are wrong.
But the truth of what is happening is often beneath that, on the level of emotion. Ask yourself this: Does your friendship make you feel hurt, afraid, and ashamed?
That is not the way a healthy friendship feels.8. You Are Afraid to Leave
This brings me back to the first point on this list: fear. When it comes right down to it, abuse is about making someone afraid to leave you.
Fear created by abuse – weaponized fear – can take a thousand different shapes. Fear of getting physically hurt. Fear that they will die without you. Fear that you won’t survive, or know who you are, after you leave them.
It took me a long time to realize this, but here’s the thing: You are always allowed to leave a friendship. Always, always,always. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been friends, or how important they say you are, or how much they depend on you (see point #6).
You are always allowed to leave a friendship if you’re being hurt.
No one ever told me when I was little that friendship would mean as much or more than blood to me. But I live in a world where people choose their own families now.
There is something so beautiful in that – and dangerous, too.The most special kinds of love are always a little dangerous, and friendship is no different.
But here’s another thing that no one tells you: Friendship is not something that has to hurt you. We choose to hurt each other. And we can choose to stop.
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Kai Cheng Thom is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She is a Chinese trans woman writer, poet, and performance artist based in Montreal. She also holds a Master’s degree in clinical social work, and is working toward creating accessible, politically conscious mental health care for marginalized youth in her community. You can find out more about her work on her website and at Monster Academy.
11 signs of emotional abuse, who is an abuser, how to recognize psychological abuse
Physical abuse is unacceptable in any relationship. But there is a more insidious form of violence that friends, family members, and even the victims themselves may not immediately notice. We are talking about emotional abuse, or abuse. Unlike physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse is a rather subtle tool. With it, the manipulator gains almost unlimited control in the relationship.
Emotional abuse can take a variety of forms, ranging from seemingly harmless but frequent ridicule to open insult and humiliation.
According to psychologists, emotional abuse is not immediately recognized by the victims. Moreover, usually at first the abuser acts as a “good uncle” (aunt) or an attentive boyfriend who shows maximum care, thereby confusing the victim. An abuser is a person who first enters into trust, which makes the object of his attention even more vulnerable. Those who have been emotionally abused for a long time are at risk of future consequences such as anxiety disorder, depression, chronic pain and substance abuse (alcohol, drugs). However, there are a number of signs that give away an emotional abuser and a toxic relationship associated with it. We list them and talk about them in more detail.
1. You constantly curry favor with your partner.
You try not to anger your loved one and carefully choose your words in a conversation with him. “It seems that you have come to terms with a secondary role, diligently controlling yourself, which means that you have learned what to do so that your partner does not insult you openly,” explains psychologist Steven Stonis, author of Love Without Hurt (“Love Without Harm” ).
2. Your partner uses gaslighting techniques
“Your partner is trying to influence your perception of reality by denying or distorting what is really happening. He says things like "You're making it up, it didn't happen" or "I never said/did that". Over time, such statements can develop a sense of self-doubt, and you begin to agree with your partner's distortions. Self-doubt leads to self-doubt, which makes you more vulnerable to a manipulative partner,” says psychotherapist Carol A. Lambert, author of Women with Controlling Partners.
3. Partner requires constant accountability "where, when and with whom"
According to Dr. Lisa Ferenc, trying to maintain complete control can be a serious problem in a relationship. Contact several times a day for the purpose of "checking in" can turn into constant harassment. In simple terms, the requirement to constantly report on the whereabouts of a partner and attempts to limit the freedom of movement and communication with others is one of the characteristic signs of emotional abuse.
4. Partner says hurtful words to you, disguising them as a “joke”
“When you start complaining, they retort that it's just a joke, and you are too suspicious. But the truth is that there is some truth in every sarcastic remark or hurtful joke,” warns psychotherapist Shari Stines. 5. You apologize even when you know you did nothing wrong Beverly Engle, author of Emotionally Abusive Relationships.
6. Your partner is either too hot or too cold
“For a while he exudes love, but suddenly becomes cold and inaccessible. You cannot understand the reason, no matter how hard you try. He refuses to communicate, you start to panic, trying to win back his favor, and because of the lack of explanations, you begin to blame yourself. Quite often, this can turn a relatively independent person into a restless sycophant trying to win back a partner’s favor,” says Peg Streep, author of Daughter Detox: Recovering from An Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life. own life").
7. Your partner refuses to acknowledge your strengths and devalues your accomplishments
“Depreciation and derogatory remarks may not be taken seriously at first, but they are not casual slips of the tongue. Most likely, they are aimed precisely at your strengths, which the partner evaluates as a threat and tries to control them. Your partner's reaction to your achievements can say a lot. Does he show little or no interest in you? In a conversation about your virtues, does he change the subject or criticize you for something you don't do? Over time, your sense of self-confidence and sense of self-competence can seriously decrease,” explains Dr. Lambert.
8. A partner restricts you in emotional intimacy, sex, or money for the purpose of "punishment"
Relationships in which "certain conditions" appear are inherently problematic. “Trying to limit emotional attachment or financial support is not always perceived as abuse. Most regard violence as physical harm, but when it comes to limiting or depriving what a person deserves, this is also violence, just emotional,” says Ferenc.
9. You have lost your sexual attraction to your partner
“This is especially true for women. Usually, women need to trust their partner in order to feel physical and emotional arousal. If a girl feels fearful or angry with her partner, she will not feel safe and her body will react accordingly,” Engle says.
10. You feel sorry for your partner, despite the fact that he hurts you
“Emotional abusers are masters of manipulation. They hurt you while making you think it's your fault, or at least that they were hurt in childhood or past relationships. You just feel sorry for them. Victims of emotional abuse often ignore the behavior of their abusers because they appear unhappy, rejected, abandoned,” warns Dr. Stines.
11. The partner suddenly changes plans too often in order to "make a surprise"
Open attempts at control are easy to spot, but there is a more sophisticated method, the so-called "hidden control", which is often resorted to by abusers. “Hidden control” is a sudden change in an already planned one (the two of you go to a nearby bistro instead of an evening with friends) or a sharp revision of joint plans under the guise of a “surprise”. “It's control without overt demands: at first you're flattered by the attentions, but over time it can become the rule and your own wants and needs take a backseat,” explains Peg Streep.
Photo: Getty Images
7 signs of an emotional abuser - Lifehacker
February 15, 2021
Who is an abuser
There are real professionals of violence. They mock and humiliate others to compensate for their own internal shortcomings, this is their habit of living and communicating. Such people are called abusers (from the English abuse - cruel treatment, abuse of power).
We have already begun to talk about abusive husbands, but this concept is much broader: there are abusive wives, abusive parents, abusive grandparents (a vivid example is described in the book “Bury Me Behind the Plinth” by Pavel Sanaev), bosses and abuser colleagues.
That is, an abuser can be a man or a woman of different age and social status.
The problem in dealing with them is that abusers not only force a person to do something, but also make him feel like a black sheep and feel guilty. The victim of the abuser receives the message: “You are a complete nonentity, I hate you! And yes, I'm angry, but it's your fault that you brought me to this state!
How to recognize an abuser
1. The abuser is rude to animals and children
A sign that does not require special comments, because a rude attitude and harsh remarks ("All children need to be spanked, but harder, so that they know who is in charge in the family !”, “I would put all these lousy mongrels to sleep and put them on soap!”) demonstrate a person’s inner craving for violence.
2. The abuser ignores personal boundaries
In families, this can manifest itself in the habit of entering someone else's room without knocking, trying to take other people's things without asking, forbidding to close doors, which are accompanied by the phrases “Why are you closing the door? Do you have something to hide from me?"
If this is a stranger, he comes too close, touches your things and touches you, not interested in your opinion on this matter. And if you start to resist and show your displeasure, he says something like: “Oh, how tender we are!” - as if accusing you of the fact that you do not like the intrusion of a stranger.
3. The abuser denies the legitimacy of your own feelings, desires and requests
In the family, he will ignore your attempts to say that you are hurt, unpleasant, scared, that you do not want to do something or go somewhere. Your prayers and tears will not touch him. The maximum that you can hear is “Stop whining!”, “It’s good for me to endure the brain!”, “Do you want me to get angry ?!”.
If this is a stranger, he will act in the same way as described in the previous paragraph, accusing you of being overly sensitive or that you simply do not understand, and if you understand, then you definitely will not appreciate it.
4. The abuser criticizes all the time
From a loved one you will regularly hear that you have a terrible figure, you are always dressed wrong (“What, like a prostitute dressed up ?!”, “Well, in such clothes you look like a bum!”) , you raise children incorrectly (“Normal mothers breastfeed a child up to three years old!”), behave in the wrong way (“Well, why are you different! Also a man to me, it’s no wonder that Ninka left you!”).
If this is an unfamiliar person, then about other people - colleagues, bosses, former partners, sexual and national minorities - he will speak extremely dismissively, blaming for all sins and condemning for every misconduct.
Do you not like the way a new acquaintance talks about others? Beware: it may take quite a while before he starts treating you the same way.
5. The abuser controls and interrogates
In the family, he strives to solve all the main issues and be aware of what, where, when and with whom you did, holds the budget in his hands and makes you ask permission on every occasion. This also includes bosses who practice total and covert control (for example, covert video and audio recording), unannounced inspections.
If it is a stranger, he will try his best to get the right to control you as soon as possible. He will persuade you to move in quickly, formalize relationships, quit your job, have a child, while not being particularly interested in your plans for life.
6. The abuser isolates from other people
He is intensely and openly jealous when you spend time with someone else, even relatives. Makes you always make excuses for not paying enough attention to him, likes to ask: “Why do you need this Kolya? Are you missing me?" He insults and criticizes all objectionable relatives, friends and acquaintances, forbids communicating with certain people.
An unfamiliar person can easily state in a general conversation that you have spoken out, interrupting others and talking complete nonsense, as well as broadcasting double standards (“A woman should stay at home and serve her husband, but a husband?! A husband is a breadwinner, he must communicate with friends and relax!”, “If a woman raises her voice, she will become hysterical, if a man, he gets angry!”).
7. The abuser convinces that he loves like no one else
It is this feature of theirs that makes many endure emotional abuse, because abusers convince that all their humiliating actions, all poisonous words, all suffocating control is solely from a feeling of love.
They manipulate the most sacred concept - "love", sincerely believing that for this they will be ready to forgive everything!
If we are talking about an unfamiliar person who cannot yet declare his own love, he will bet on caring for you and your welfare.
Keep in mind that a single criterion, which occurs rarely, cannot identify an abuser. But if a person often makes you go against your will, feel humiliation and guilt, while strenuously convincing you of his good intentions and ignoring your feelings, then he is an abuser. He is a wolf in grandma's clothes, whose goal is to devour you for his own satisfaction!
What to do if an abuser is nearby
First, admit that you are not to blame, you are being abused.
If this is a stranger, run away from him and try not to make contact. If this is not possible (for example, a colleague at work), do not get close to him and try to emotionally isolate yourself from him.