Aaron wrongly believed that the only type of abuse was physical and then only if it left a mark. This is a common misunderstanding in our culture. When he took some time to review the different types of abuse, he realized that he experienced it in his marriage, from his parents, and on occasion was guilty of abusive behavior as well. There are many other ways a person can be abused. Abuse can be manipulation, exploitation, maltreatment, neglect, violence, cruelty, harm, hurt, ill-treatment, and exploitive. The seven main ways it is manifested is through physical, mental, verbal, emotional, financial, sexual and spiritual. Legal abuse is very specific and is not readily seen, however, it does occur. The following list is not inclusive but rather provides an opportunity to explore, evaluate and discuss any potentially destructive behavior. Aaron used this list as a checklist, marking up his and other’s errors in behavior. Awareness is the first step to stopping abuse.
Mental Abuse. Has the victim experienced:
- Rage – An intense, furious anger that comes out of nowhere, usually over nothing, startling and shocking a person into compliance or silence.
- Gaslighting – Lying about the past making a person doubt their memory, perception, and sanity. They claim and give evidence of past wrong behavior further causing doubt.
- The Stare – An intense stare with no feeling or anger behind it frequently mixed with the silent treatment.
- Silent Treatment – Punishing by ignoring. There is a history of cutting others out of their life permanently over small things.
- Projection – Dumping their issues onto others as if the other person did it.
- Twisting – When confronted, twisting things around to blame others for their actions. They will not accept responsibility for their behavior and instead insist on an apology.
- Manipulation – Making others fear the worst such as abandonment, infidelity, rejection, or death.
- Victim Card – When all else fails, they resort to playing the victim card to gain sympathy and further control behavior.