Forms of emotional abuse, can however, be just as damaging as physical abuse. They can include being disrespectful, discourteous, rude, condescending, patronizing, critical, judgemental, "joking" insults, lying, repeatedly "forgetting" promises, sarcasm and agreements, betrayal of trust, "setting you up", and "revising" history.
To outsiders, abusers often appear as decent, successful, sensitive, calm and nondescript.
He may intersperse episodes of abuse with words of love, telling her that she is "the best thing that has ever happened" to him, and that he wants to start treating her that way, confusing her further. She keeps hoping that if she does enough, if she gives enough, he will stop hurting her and the loving, caring side of him will prevail. ... the REALLY successful abusers are highly intelligent and hide their abuse incredibly well. They may have shelves of filled with psychology books; many are well-read and very well spoken. They know how to twist and manipulate language and people. They present an exterior of calm, rational self-control, when in reality, they have no internal control of their own pain and chaotic self-hate, so they try to control others, and drive others to LOSE control.If a [cyberpath] causes YOU to lose control, it proves how healthy HE is, so he can say, explicitly, or implicitly (it's amazing how sighs, and rolling of the eyes can accomplish as much as words), "There you go again, losing it, crying and yelling. I'm not the one who needs therapy, *you* are." Unfortunately, if an outsider sees the abuse at all, all they see is an outburst from you, NOT the abuse that triggered it. It may make you feel as if you have had all your lifelines withdrawn, as if you are going crazy, because nobody believes you that this charming, "nice", helpful, successful man could be so incredibly psychologically cruel and deliberately hurtful.
Cyberpaths play the pushme-pull-you game threatening to withdraw their affections, dropping statements out of the blue intended to destabilize. This has the effect of making their partners insecure and uncertain, but that plays right into the abuser's hand as he then can accuse the partner of being "too needy".
An emotional abuser may make fun of his partner, or make subtle or not-so-subtle disparaging remarks about her while with other friends, and encourage the friends to make disparaging remarks.
Emotional abusers overcompensate for their self-hate with a warped kind of narcissism. He lives by the "if you really loved me".
Emotional abusers will remind you of your flaws under the guise of trying to be "helpful" or sensitive.
Emotional abusers will try to isolate you from family and friends. There are several tactics that may be employed. If he can't manipulate your friends, he will either find reasons to denigrate them or will be "uninterested" in doing things with you AND your friends.
Instead of "lying" to a partner, an emotional abuser may "forget" significant promises he made to his partner - especially if forgetting that promise will hurt her.
(was your Cyberpath busy on your birthday? Or no contact when you were sick or having problems and needed the support?)
Emotional abusers expect to be forgiven for their "mistakes" (otherwise known as abuse) but are unable to forgive their partners for legitimate mistakes - and will continue to "punish" their partners for those mistakes, long after apologies and restitution have been made.
Emotional abusers expect their partners to change for them. Unfortunately, the changes the partner makes will never be enough - the abuser will always want more.
The abuser says it's not completely his fault, or she pushes his buttons, or that something she did triggered him to do or say something hurtful or damaging to her.
Emotional reactions in self-defense to an abusive situation do NOT make YOU an "abuser".
As part of this tactic he may pay lip-service to personal responsibility by saying he "takes responsibility" for his actions, but then make no offer to do anything about the resulting emotional pain, or say that there is nothing he can do to repair the damage or make restitution. If she tries to get him to do anything to make restitution he will use the word "blame" as if it is a dirty word, and accuse her of trying to lay "blame" on him for his actions. .
-to bring up stories of childhood/parental abuse (watch these, they are the same old stories each time, and if you listen closely, you may see that his behaviors closely match those childhood abuse patterns...)
-to bring up troubles and things bothering him at work
Emotional abusers often display different personalities to other people in their lives - watch for a completely changed demeanor, behavior, body language and even tone of voice, when they are at work, or with a circle of friends.
The abuser may claim that this is just different "facets" of his personality, but in fact, it is a warning sign that he puts on different personnas to suit the situation, and you will never know which one is the REAL person. It belies huge insecurities - the way children try to act like the crowd they are with in order to be accepted - and is an indication of the emotional immaturity of the typical abuser.
Emotional abusers, like physical abusers, can be exceedingly charming -that's why it's so hard for the victim of abuse - their friends only see the charming side, and don't see the discourtesy, lies, meanness, condescension and rudeness that happens inside the relationship.
If the victim's female friends are attracted to him at all, he may even try to prey on that, so that if she has a conflict or a problem with him, she doesn't have a close supportive friend to turn to.
Abusers will use things like stories of childhood abuse or trauma, lost friends or the death of relatives to get her friends to feel sorry for him. He will play up the "sensitive guy" role. If he can cozy up to her best friend, the friend will feel caught in the middle - which is exactly what the abuser wants - to cut off his partner from external support. If he can, he may even flirt heavily with her friends, have an affair with one of her friends, or become pals with one or more of her former friends as another way to hurt and attempt to shame her.
Abusers are completely self-centered. They blame other people and seldom take responsibility for their own actions. Abusers are self-righteous.
Emotional abusers hate apologizing.
This is called "projection" - abusers do it all the time. They project THEIR issues onto their partner, and try to make it their partner's problem. They make it sound like the partner's is somehow wrong or attempting to set them up for "blame", for wanting some sign of compassion and remorse, and an indication of willingness to work on the behavior problem.
Abusers may, early in the relationship, in a moment of "opening up", tell you of their abusive or manipulative nature. .... They may even go so far as to say, "I told you this is how I am."
Emotional abusers often grow OLD without growing UP. They are emotionally stunted and immature. Emotional abusers are self-preoccupied, and demonstrate a passive-aggressive interpersonal style.
Emotional abusers deny that they have any problems and/or project their problems onto their partner, often accusing their partners of abuse - especially AFTER the partner has woken up and called the abuser on his behavior. At this point he will be sure to tell as many *mutual* friends as will listen, that she is controlling and abusive to him, in an attempt to further undermine any support she might get.
An emotional abuser demonstrates little capacity to appreciate the perspective of another person when his own interests are at stake. Emotional abusers often flip between being a martyr and a self-absorbed asshole - there is no middle ground, and they use the martyrdom as an excuse for their behavior when they are in self-absorbed a**hole mode.
An emotional abuser sees himself as a blameless victim, and denies his own provocative behavior, even going so far as to bemoan the fact that a partner left him, or threw him out, ...
The emotional abuser will play up the "pathos" in an attempt to garner sympathy, all the while, continuing to (cyber)stalk his ex, making jokes about things he could do to upset her, and invading her personal space and boundaries ...
Like physical abusers, emotional abusers will often stalk their former partners. The stalker's objective is often to control her through cultivating fear rather than making direct or specific threats, or confronting the her. This is a subtle form of terrorism, because abuse victims are often very emotionally (if not physically) afraid of their abusers once they wake up.
Ex-partners of abusers will often express fear of their abuser, and will have no desire to be anywhere near the abuser. On the other hand, the abuser may try to appear as if he is calm, rational, and still supportive of his ex-partner, despite the fact that he will also express the opinion that he believes she is quite unstable.
He will make statements such as saying that he "bears her no ill-will", etc., but then will show no respect for her boundaries ... The abuser will still inquire with friends as to how she is doing, implying that his inquiry is because he cares about her - he does care - about retaining those last vestiges of control, even after the breakup. What he really wants to know is if she is suffering or doing badly, because that feeds his sick ego. He feels best when he puts other people in as much pain as he is in.
People in relationships have conflicts. But there is a right way and a wrong way to resolve them, and no matter what the other person does, no matter what a person's "issues" are, abuse is the wrong way. Emotional cruelty and abuse are choices.
Because the truth of the matter is, someone who can be emotionally cruel, malicious, and compassionless with people who have given him their love and their trust, is so absorbed in self-hate that he is incapable of loving himself, much less anyone else. What the abuser feels is obsession, not love.
Just because he admits his behavior (and WATCH - some abusers are VERY good at acknowledging they did something without apologizing, or admitting there was anything WRONG with the behavior.), does NOT mean he is willing to change it, that he will not repeat the behavior, nor that he even believes he did anything unacceptable, hurtful or wrong. DO NOT take admission of an act as a sign of integrity, acceptance of responsibility, a show of remorse, or an indication of genuine caring, unless you see EXPLICIT behavior that demonstrates it.