The term “abuse” is often associated with physical pain.
However, there are many different forms of abuse – emotional, mental, verbal, sexual, cultural, and financial.
The first signs of abuse are usually small – the main reason most people explain them away in the beginning.
“They didn’t really mean that.”
“They aren’t controlling. They’re just very protective of me!”
“They act that way when they are tired and stressed. It’s just the way they are.”
But one thing is certain. The abuse will get worse as time goes by!
You’ll find yourself tip-toeing around your abuser, constantly explaining yourself, hiding certain things from them, feeling neglected and alone, feeling heartlessly exploited and embarrassed, always on edge, and actually scared of their reactions. (To name a few)
Below are 11 mental abuse tactics that are commonly used by toxic people.
We actually wrote a whole article on common phrases that are used when you someone is being gaslighted!
Gaslighting is an extremely effective form of mental and emotional abuse used to make someone question their own memory, feelings, and even sanity.
Denial and shifting the blame are a major part of this tactic!
“I never said or did that!”
“You are so sensitive. Always overreacting to what I say to you!”
“Oh, you have such a bad memory. There you go making things up again!”
The goal is to make the victim doubt their own perception – like a mind game!
Seeing that most decent human beings want to make sure that they are honest and not misleading, it is not too difficult to make someone stop and think, “Wait, did that really happen? Is it me and not them?”
Once the victim starts thinking this way, it is much more likely that they will stay in the abusive relationship longer.
2.) The Long, Intense Stare
If the abuser does not like how you are acting and wants to let you know that they despise you in that moment, they might pull out “The Stare”.
A very long and intense stare, with a blank expression and angry eyes.
And they will not look away until they know that they have made you very uncomfortable and aware of their disgust for you.
The goal of this abuse tactic is to intimidate you into feeling submissive and guilt-ridden.
This tactic is almost always accompanies with the next tactic, the silent treatment.
Related Article: 7 Types of Toxic People to Eliminate from Your Life
3.) The Silent Treatment
Another abuse tactic is ignoring and refusing to have a conversation with you.
The purpose of this behavior is to teach you a lesson!
The silent treatment is used to place the abuser in a position of control. Their goal is for you to come back to them and plead for a reinstated relationship because you are lonely and feeling rejected.
When this is done, they will demand an apology and ensure that you know that problem completely lies with you.
4.) Twisting Facts
When the abuser is confronted with their toxic behavior, they are brilliant at twisting all the facts to turn the blame around on the victim – the person trying to make them aware of their hurtful behavior.
They will never accept responsibility for their behavior.
The crazy thing is, they are so good at twisting the facts that their stories can sometimes be very believable!
However, you will notice that all people with abusive character traits HATE follow-up questions.
Why? Because this is the best way for the victim to trap the abuser in their own web of lies.
And when this happens, they only become more and more abusive – often to the point of physically hurting the victim.
Related Article: 9 Early Signs You’re Dating A Cheater
Projection is a cruel form of mental abuse.
This is when the abuser blames their own issues on the victim.
A person with anger issues blames their spouse for being the angry one.
A cheating spouse will suddenly start accusing their partner of being unfaithful.
When caught lying, the abuser will start emphatically blaming the victim for being a filthy liar.
In most cases, this is a sign that the abuser is guilty of fault! Their response to this guilt is to attribute all the flaws they find in themselves onto someone else.
The result of projection is guilt and confusion. “What did I do wrong? Why is this happening to me?”
6.) Unquestioned Control
…no questions, complete submission.
When the abuser demands to know information, the victim does not have a choice but to offer an explanation.
In the beginning, this control may be disguised as “genuine concern” for the victim’s well being. But the truth always comes out!
If they don’t like your friends, they will insist that you lose them. If they don’t like your driving, they will insist that you always sit in the passenger seat. They may even insinuate that they don’t trust you, so they need to constantly have access to your social media accounts and electronic devices.
They want to be in control, so they demand that you allow them to have that “right”.
“No! I don’t want you to do that anymore.”
“Why are you texting them? You know I don’t like them anymore.”
“Where are you? You’re always supposed to tell me where you are at!”
If you question their controlling behavior, YOU are the one with the problem – always trying to hide things from them.
Related Article: 13 Things You Should Never Tolerate in A Relationship
7.) Playing the Victim
Playing the victim is a classic abuse tactic!
If they get caught in their own web of lies and manipulation, they will immediately make themselves look like the innocent victim.
This is done by projecting an image of grief, disappointment, pain, loneliness, sickness, shock, and the list goes on.
Their conversations (and even social media accounts) will turn into a self-inflicted pity party. The world needs to know how much of a victim they are.
The fault is never their own! It’s always because of other people’s selfishness and dishonesty.
They’ve only ever been generous, loving, kind, and selfless!
Beware of the “tears” tactic!
It can be a very effective manipulation tool – especially in the beginning.
And many abusers don’t even care where they turn on the tears. It can even be in public!
The reason for this is because they don’t mind making you look like a heartless person – always playing the victim.
Tears are a great way to make you regret standing up to them and put you back “in your place” – under their control and authority.
An abuser always wants you in a position of inferiority!
9.) Love Bombing
Gifts, flattering comments, love notes, flowers, tokens of affection, special treatment, adoring social media posts, etc.
Love bombing is the act of suddenly showering someone with adoration – out of the blue!
This abuse tactic is a brilliant way for the abuser to get your attention and either get “into” your life or “back into” your life.
In other words, an abuser will love bomb the victim when they want to make a great first impression OR make the victim put their guard down after previously distancing themselves from the toxic behavior of the abuser.
“Look how much I think of you! I care for you so much! Look at all the kind things I’m doing for you!”
Related Article: 7 Steps to Successfully Remove Toxic People from Your Life
10.) Unending Comparison
You’ll never be quite good enough!
Comparison is a very hurtful form of abuse. It can be done so subtly that some people may not even notice.
But the abuser knows what they are doing!
Someone is always doing something better than you!
Someone always looks a little bit better than you.
They are sending you the message that you are not quite good enough. You aren’t meeting their standards, so they are going to manipulatively compare you to others.
Related Article: 10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Significant Other
11.) Anger and Rage
An abuser doesn’t have to hit you across the face to show anger and rage.
But verbal abuse and a raised voice is usually the first sign that someone is eventually going to be physically abusive.
This temper can come out of nowhere – even over absolutely nothing!
In the beginning, the victim often explains it away.
“They’re just moody after a long day of work.”
“They always get this way when they’re hungry!”
“I shouldn’t have said that to them. It was my fault.”
Unfortunately, the abuser’s rage problem can startle and scare the victim into silent submission – exactly where they want them!
Read more articles on this topic:
- Narcissistic Gaslighting: 33 Things A Narcissist Will Say To Manipulate You
- 7 Best Ways to Starve a Narcissist
- 13 Things You Should Never Tolerate in A Relationship
- 7 Types of Toxic People to Eliminate from Your Life
- Why It’s Okay to Cut Toxic Family Members Out of Your Life
- 7 Steps to Successfully Remove Toxic People from Your Life