There is an insidious and grave type of domestic abuse that is finally being acknowledged by medical health professionals and addressed by domestic violence programs. It is Psychological and Emotional Abuse and the damaging effects upon the victim’s mental health can be debilitating and long lasting.
This is not to be misconstrued with having a partner or family member that while in an argument may use name-calling or raises their voice on occasion. It is much more pervasive and subversive than that. It is rather, a consistent, unrelenting and deliberately destructive attempt to break the victim down so as the abuser then has complete control over the victim.
Brainwashing is said to reduce its subject’s ability to think critically or independently to allow the introduction of new, unwanted thoughts and ideas into the subject’s mind, as well as to change his or her attitudes, values, and beliefs. Using various forms of mind manipulation the abuser dismantles the victim’s life, relationships and reality.
Psychological abuse is in fact considered domestic violence by health care professionals. Although the actual abuser may suffer from a Narcissistic personality disorder or other pathological mental health disorder, I struggle to say that they “suffer” at all. It is most often their victims that suffer the greatest harm.
Silence harbors secrets. And the abuser’s highest priority is to keep their victim(s) silent, however, in regards to an abuser with pathological traits, mindsets, they are already way ahead of the game. They have already anticipated that the victim may speak out, so they begin a subversive and methodical dismantling of the victims credibility. They do this by raising doubts as to the validity of the victim’s own memory by gaslighting them, making them doubt their experiences in which the abuser revises portions of events and dismissing any opposition raised by the victim. Another preemptive tactic commonly used is to express false great concern while making deceptive statements to others about the victims soundness of mind.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Often times, victims may have low self-esteem or self-worth, and they may be insecure or unsure of themselves. It is common that they were abused in a similar way during their childhood. We seek things that are familiar and therefore we seek relationships that mirror or represent those that we had as children. Substance abuse by victims may develop, as was in my case. I became a textbook alcoholic. The took a number of years to recover from not to mention the therapy and mental health problems which arose during the abuse. There are various professional opinions regarding whether we seek these relationships out so that we can resolve them as adults when we couldn’t as children or that we seek them out out of familiarity and what we already know. We learn quickly how to comply, cooperate and conform. We know how to smile in pictures and we know what we can and cannot talk about. My situation was not as physical as it was psychological. I remember the first time that my intuition told me that was not right, but I brushed it aside. There were many red flags during the courtship, but looking back now I believe that I chose NOT to see them. Does that mean I was deserving of or responsible for the abuse? Because I brushed red flags aside? Or because I let one incident become another, and another? No. The answer is an emphatic and intractable NO!
I am a survivor of domestic abuse which involved psychological abuse and pervasive mind control and I am telling my story in the hopes that it will save at least one soul from the sheer madness, attempted suicides, addictions and dissociative states that I did and that I am convinced were the direct byproducts of years of this type of abuse. Administered first by my mother and then years later by my second husband.
“If environmental risk factors for [mental illness] can be validated and confirmed, there is every reason to expect they will point to preventive measures that lower their risks and morbidity.”Alan Brown, Columbia University Medical Center