How to Identify Psychological Abuse

How to Identify Psychological Abuse

Last update: 18 September, 2016

Identifying abuse is easy when the abuse is physical. But, what about psychological abuse? This kind isn’t usually so obvious. It’s a silent kind of abuse that occurs between two people, while the rest of the world remains ignorant of it.

Physical abuse combines with the psychological kind. In fact, sometimes there can be psychological abuse without physical abuse, but there can’t be physical abuse without psychological abuse.

“Psychological abuse is the kind that completely destroys people. Or harassment, feeling insecure, feeling unloved. Silence, a cold stare or a scornful glance can also be very hurtful.”
-María José Rodríguez de Armenta-

The abuser knows that his or her words have power. That’s why he or she uses them. In fact, psychological abuse is much more effective than the physical kind. It leaves a mark, and leads to problems that remain over time.

Many people affirm that these invisible blows hurt much more than any physical abuse. Many people would prefer a beating over the emotional pain and scars of psychological abuse. 

Your words hurt me

bird with key in its mouth

Psychological abuse uses words to cause harm, degradation, slights… All of this, at first can be very subtle, so that the abused person won’t notice, and slowly they start playing into the abuser’s game.

With this kind of abuse, people seek the power of being able to control a person without them being aware of it. Do you want to learn how to detect a psychological abuser? Keep in mind the following characteristics:

  • They insult you, scream at you and belittle you, making you feel that you’re worth nothing, that your life is worth nothing. They belittle you and lower your self-esteem to such an extent, that ironically, you feel grateful that anyone would want to be with you despite all the flaws they point out. 
  • They feel excessively jealous and control you all of the time. You are their most valuable possession, and at the same time the most disregarded. This is an incoherence that confuses and torments you.
  • They isolate you from your friends and your family. They have the power to control who you hang out with and how you use your time. They make decisions for you. You are their marionette. You’re no longer free, but rather someone that is subjected to the wishes and whims of another.
  • The constant threats make you feel constantly frightened. They can threaten to abandon you or with other things they know are your weaknesses.
  • The emotional pressure that exert over you makes you feel guilty. They make you feel guilty about something that isn’t your fault. In other words, they can “turn the table” on you about absolutely everything.

If you have ever found yourself with someone who has any of these features, you’ve probably been a victim of psychological abuse.

While it’s true that on occasion they can use physical force if they see that the psychological pressure isn’t enough, the truth is that this isn’t something they do “often”.

The marks and bruises won’t manifest on your skin, but on your soul.

I want to be free of your invisible blows

twins back to back

The truth is that it’s hard to help or for someone to allow themselves to be helped if they are being mistreated psychologically. To start with, the person themselves won’t know if they’re right or if they deserve to protest about it. The abuse is such that it will make them think that they deserve the situation, that they’re not a good person and they deserve everything they get.

Here we’ll find a completely shattered self-esteem. A broken self-esteem, a life without meaning, surrounded by pain, fear and the need to satisfy someone who constantly causes them harm. Even when someone is conscious that they’re being mistreated, the time comes to look for help and, surprise! Where do you find it?

Psychological abuse is silent for a reason, how do you prove that you’re being mistreated? It will be your word against the word of your abuser, and there’s still a lot of skeptic people that will believe that it’s all in your head, or that you’re going crazy.

It might also happen that even though you’re conscious that you’re being harmed, you wish to go on and protect the person that’s harming you. Many abused people defend their abusers! This is called “Stockholm Syndrome”.

It’s important to note that this kind of situation, though it is suffered more often by women, can also be experienced by men.

The important thing is to be able to identify it and help the abused person, if they so wish. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, there’s nothing we can do.  The mental wear is such that the abuser achieves his true goal. But still remains...invisible.

girl on tightrope held by bird

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.