Mental abuse or psychological abuse can take many forms. Some individuals do not even recognize this type of abuse since most individuals only talk about physical and sexual abuse.
Enduring constant verbal assaults, insults, rejection, and manipulation results in extreme sense of guilt, powerlessness, and defenseless over the abuser. Sometimes individuals live under this kind of abuse for many years, sometimes a life time since it is not usually recognized, targeted and treated.
Christine Hammond wrote a short and interesting article on psychcentral about the mental abuse techniques and tactics of individuals with Narcissistic qualities or personalities. The author noted it may start “with a casual comment about anything: color of the wall, dishes in the sink, or the car needing maintenance. The remark is taken out of context by the narcissist to mean that their spouse disapproves of them in some way. She tries to explain that wasn’t her intention, but they are off on a tirade, which ends in your client feeling like she is losing her mind.”
She came up with the following list of tactics narcissists usually utilize:
1. Rage – This is an intense, furious anger that comes out of nowhere, usually over nothing (remember the wire hanger scene from the movie “Mommie Dearest”). It startles and shocks the victim into compliance or silence.
2. Gaslighting – Narcissistic mental abusers lie about the past, making their victim doubt her memory, perception, and sanity. They claim and give evidence of her past wrong behavior further causing doubt. She might even begin to question what she said a minute ago.
3. The Stare – This is an intense stare with no feeling behind it. It is designed to scare a victim into submission, and is frequently mixed with the silent treatment.
4. Silent Treatment – Narcissists punish by ignoring. Then they lets their victim “off the hook” by demanding an apology even though she isn’t to blame. This is to modify her behavior. They also have a history of cutting others out of their life permanently over small things.
5. Projection – They dump their issues onto their victim as if she were the one doing it. For instance, narcissistic mental abusers may accuse their spouse of lying when they have lied. Or they make her feel guilty when he is really guilty. This creates confusion.
6. Twisting – When narcissistic spouses are confronted, they will twist it around to blame their victims for their actions. They will not accept responsibility for their behavior and insist that their victim apologize to them.
7. Manipulation – A favorite manipulation tactic is for the narcissist to make their spouse fear the worst, such as abandonment, infidelity, or rejection. Then they refute it and ask her for something she normally would reply with “No.” This is a control tactic to get her to agree to do something she wouldn’t.
8. Victim Card – When all else fails, the narcissist resorts to playing the victim card. This is designed to gain sympathy and further control behavior.
It is important to identify these in any relationship and seek help or refer someone you care for who may be in this vulnerable position. The potential effects of this type of abuse are detrimental to physical, emotional and mental health.