Have you ever felt used? Or had that icky feeling that you were just manipulated into doing something you didn’t want to do? You are not alone. It happens to millions of people each day, and hardly anyone talks about it.
Abuse occurs when someone feels entitled to use you for their purposes. It is done in order to gain power and control over you without your direct consent by using manipulation or force. Main targets of abuse are people with people pleaser tendencies, who have learned, typically in their childhood, to always put others before them.
Below I list ten types of abuse, organized from subtler to gross, or invisible to visible. Please note that this is not a perfect system, but my effort to give the subject some structure. Feel free to suggest a better order in comments below.
1. Spiritual Abuse is subtle, and insidious. This is where your good qualities are being used against you. Spiritual abuses shame you to follow the lead of the abuser — evil hiding behind good — while blocking your intuition and ability to voice an opinion. The moment you open your mouth, you are deemed as either defensive or judgmental and so not spiritual. Common in cults, churches and spiritually inclined new age groups and relationships.
2. Psychological/Mental Abuse occurs when the abuser subjects or exposes you to a behavior that can result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression and CPTSD, ranging from subtle to intense. Behaviors include repeated insults and rejection that alternate with kindness. Here, manipulation tactics, such as gaslighting (a cunning form of lying to make you think you’re going crazy), projection, denial, guilt tripping, blame shifting, can be difficult to spot, because they are invisible. But you usually get a feeling that something is off. Follow that. It’s your intuition, your internal GPS speaking to you.
3. Emotional Abuse: the first sign that you’re being emotionally manipulated is confusion followed by exhaustion. It is the result of cognitive dissonance, a highly stressful state of mind in which you try to hold on to two opposite thoughts. The sweet-mean cycle is disorienting and induces trauma bond, or Stockholm Syndrome in which the victim rationalizes and even defends the victim. This kind of thinking is dangerous and keeps the abuse cycle going. This form of abuse is common in all relationships: familial, romantic and even professional. It often begins early, conditioning children to thinking it is normal. It is not.
4. Financial Abuse occurs when an abuser gradually enmeshes with you on the financial level, slowly draining you off your resources. It can include sharing bank accounts and investments, which gives them unlimited access to your finances and can be disputed in the event of a separation. Suddenly becoming the sole provider, as they take an extended leave, and you pay for everything is quite common in narcissistic relationships. A more covert form of manipulation that often flies under the radar occurs when an abuser influences you to make a career choice that is not your preference. It is a long term strategy to prevent you from succeeding or having a fulfilling experience, but instead to keep you dependent on the relationship.
5. Verbal Abuse: besides the more obvious overt way of throwing insults at you and threating you like a piece of garbage, sometimes even in front of others, the covert types have a way with digs and jabs that are subtler but hurt no less. Silent treatment also falls into this category. When the abuser can’t get his or her way, they act as if you don’t exist. This can feel terribly damaging to the psyche. You are coming apart at the seams and would do anything if they would only talk to you! Which is precisely their goal. Any effort at bringing up an issue, always makes you feel like it is your fault.
6. Digital Abuse includes cyber stalking before and after a relationship, leaving comments on your social media posts, or sending you emails to trigger an emotional response or have you come back to them for more abuse (hoovering). This is why complete blocking of your content and not allowing them to reach you, and not responding when they do, is the best thing you can do to protect your sanity. While you are still in the relationship or friendship, the cunning abuser might pepper your social media with pictures and posts to show off to your friends what a wonderful person they are. It will come useful during the smear campaign following a discard. Yes, they do plan for these things.
7. Sexual Abuse can range from talking about sex when you don’t feel like it, inappropriate touching all the way to rape and making you do things you would normally not do. The hallmark of this abuse is breaking down your walls, the boundaries that are supposed to protect you. Arousal inducing behaviors are used to lure you into their trap. Cluster Bs are often very good at sex, as this is one of the tricks they use to get what they want, and they use this power to gain control over you. They typically rush intimacy in order to get things moving quickly and hook you in before you have a chance to realize what’s going on. A type of abuse male predators use once they have you in their grasp is the madonna/whore dichotomy. Sandra L Brown writes about this in her book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths.’ They elevate you to the madonna status only to denigrate you as the whore later on. The latter is well accomplished through sex withholding and making you beg for it. I’d be curious to know if men experience this too.
8. Physical: by the time it gets to this point, it is usually a later stage of the abuse cycle. Because narcissistic abuse always escalates, they usually don’t start getting physically violent until other forms of abuse have taken place. Besides attacks that leave marks on your body, physical abuse can take the form of throwing objects, punching walls, and I would even add to this reckless driving meant to endanger you.
9. Organizational & Political: moving out from the relationship domain and into the wider sphere of man-made institutions. It seems that the Cluster B virus has infected and saturated our workspace, government, schools, healthcare systems etc. The system itself eerily resembles the mind of a psychopath. It no longer exists not to nurture, sustain or support, but to leech and destroy. Just take a look at our healthcare system, where profit trumps care. Workplaces and political seats are filling up with sociopaths whose sole purpose is to gain power and control. At an alarming rate, people without conscience are coopting our values and using organizations originally made to advance humanity for their own purposes.
10. Cultural Abuse: occurs when a person is either overtly or covertly being forced to conform to a set of values that are not their own. In people pleasing personalities it manifests as the need to fit in in order to get approval. It attracts bullies and is devastating to a person trying to hold on to their fragile identity. In schools, abuse takes form of bullying the one who is ‘different.’ On the streets and on the heavily controlled media, cultural abuse takes form of racism and discrimination. I believe that PC speak is a form of cultural abuse that is engineered to create the sense of a narrowing of a reality tunnel to make it harder for people to express themselves.
As you can see, abuse is responsible for the world’s worst ills and it is escalating in intensity. In fact, our pop culture seems to encourage it.
If you have been a victim of it, please know you are not alone and there is a way out.
Below is a link to a playlist of me discussing the ten forms of abuse described above.
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