There are many types of abuse. I’m going to break them down a little. This post will cover emotional and mental abuse.
Let me give you an example: There were times during my troubles when my husband didn’t want to do anything with me. He barely spoke to me. We never went out in public together. He insinuated that he was embarrassed to be seen in public with me. One day, after a week of not shaving, not showering, just sitting on the couch wearing the same clothes, he came out of the bathroom shaved, showered and all dressed up. I was a bit surprised because he hadn’t told me we were going anywhere. When I asked him where we were going, he said he was going out to dinner. When I asked who he was going with, he answered with a sly smile and a twinkle in his eye, “Wouldn’t you like to know!” Had this happened a few years before, I would have been devastated. At this point, I couldn’t have cared less. I was just glad he didn’t expect me to go out with him. But it was a ploy to hurt me. He wanted me to think he was going out with another woman. He was playing with my heart, leading me to believe that there was someone else that he would clean up for and take out to dinner, when he wouldn’t do it for me.
One woman told me that after a few days of her husband giving her the silent treatment, (she had no idea why, since he wasn’t talking to her and had given her no explanation for the silence) she came home to find a dozen red roses on the table. He wasn’t home, but she was so glad, she fixed a very nice dinner and waited for him. He never did show up. She went to bed and when he came home, he slept on the couch and left the next morning before she got up.
Those are examples of emotional abuse. The abuser likes to keep you guessing, like the daisy game we played when we were kids…he loves me, he loves me not… as we picked the petals from the daisies. They offer their love and then reject the reciprocation, making the victim feel inadequate and stupid. They encourage and then berate. They act like they love the victim and then treat them with distain. It’s a roller coaster ride and the victim never knows from one moment to the next if they are in their good graces or are their enemy.
Mental abuse is much like emotional abuse, but it’s messing with your head instead of your heart. The abuser will tell you one thing and then swear up and down he never said that. Once, I confronted my husband about something he said, reminding him that just the day before he had told me the opposite. He simply shrugged and said, “I lied.” They will call the victim names, tell them they are stupid, that they’d be nothing without them and try to get the victim to believe if it wasn’t for them, they’d be nothing. The next time they tear into the victim, it may be to tell them to get out or leave the house. They will make fun of the victim’s abilities, especially if they are better at something than the abuser is. They will blame the victim for anything that goes wrong, even if they had nothing to do with it and especially if THEY did. They will tell the victim that they are stupid for their religious beliefs, the way they handle money or the way they dress…anything at all to try to tear down their self-esteem so that they will relinquish even more control. Remember, abuse is all about control and the victim gets too weary trying to do everything right (which will never happen in the eyes of the abuser) that they spiral downward into a feeling of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
I’m going to take the whole next post on one subject that is very important and that’s the type of abuse called “gaslighting.”