Silent Abuse: what no one talks about
Seriously, let’s talk about this. While everyone is mortified and in an uproar when we hear about a domestic violence situation where a partner physically harms the other (of course we are - it’s not okay), it seems that the more subtle, silent kind of abuse is brushed aside or ignored, even though this type of abuse can have far more damaging, long lasting effects.
Now, I’m not trying to say that physical abuse of any kind is any less damaging. It’s absolutely wrong and disgusting that we even need to talk about it. What I’m saying is that the silent kind - emotional, psychological and/or narcissistic abuse - is just as harmful, if not more so in some cases.
People are beginning to talk about and acknowledge this kind of abuse more nowadays, which is helpful, but there are still so many people out there who don’t understand (or want to understand) that emotional, psychological and narcissistic abuse is real. Very real. The wounds created from this kind of abuse may not be visible for people to notice, but inside, the damage that is done through these manipulative, soul destroying attacks are deep and take much longer to heal from (if at all).
Just some examples of this silent abuse are
⁃ Verbal violence, yelling at you, swearing, insulting or name calling
⁃ Belittling, humiliating, blaming and shaming
⁃ Constant criticism, nothing is ever good enough
⁃ Unpredictable outbursts, rage, throwing objects or damaging property
⁃ Sulking or tantrum-like behaviour
⁃ Making you feel afraid, intimated or threatened
⁃ Isolating you from friends and family
⁃ Bullying or intimidation
⁃ Rejecting or ignoring you, refusing to communicate
⁃ Manipulation and controlling behaviour
⁃ Withholding affection as a form of punishment
⁃ Mind games, such as gaslighting
⁃ Lack of empathy and compassion
Of course, this doesn’t mean that any time someone yells in your presence or swears at you that it’s abuse. These are examples only and the list could go on forever. It really could, sadly. For further detail, see some of the links at the end of this article.
It’s hard enough for victims of domestic violence to have the courage to speak up or do anything about their situation, and sadly in many cases, they’re just too scared to do so, so they remain in an abusive environment or worse still, end up dead - either at the hands of their abuser or through suicide. Sometimes, there are cuts and bruises are visible to show that this abuse has occurred. But sometimes, these cuts and bruises go far deeper than skin level. The wounds are hidden and have more often than not, been concealed for a long time.
How is a victim of this type of abuse heard? Seen? Acknowledged? In most cases, there is no proof, no physical evidence. What they do have is the chaos and confusion that’s whirling around in their mind, their self esteem and confidence crushed, and the pain that eats them up day after day as their heart is slowly torn apart. They likely have the constant thought that what they’re experiencing isn’t abuse, isn’t domestic violence, isn’t worthy of speaking up about because society isn’t able to physically see it. There’s no proof you see, so who would believe them?
What we need to do is start talking openly about this silent abuse. If the world could see the damage and pain that emotional, psychological and narcissistic abuse actually causes - if all the wounds were somehow brought to the surface to be visible - I have no doubt that society would be mortified. Would be in an uproar. And so we should be. Let's start giving victims of silent abuse a chance to speak up and be heard, and let's begin by acknowledging that it is real.
If you or someone you know is a victim of any kind of abuse, please reach out and talk to someone. Below are also some useful links for support organisations and further information on emotional abuse and narcissistic abuse.