INDIRECT Abusers (Part 1)

the rest of the time!

PREVIOUS: Direct abusers

Dr Irene’s great Verbal Abuse & Recovery site

See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


COVERT ABUSE  (CA) – Emotional, Mental & Spiritual
• Emotional abuse is one of the most under-reported stressors in the US today. Blatant emotional cruelty may be noticed by others, & definitely felt by the Victim (V) – even if they ignore or excuse it.
For the indirect type is consistently administered in small doses, which the abuser uses so it’ll be easily overlooked, as it gets woven into the fabric of the relationship.
In China this is a form of torture called Lingchi =”Death by a thousand cuts“.

Typically, the V. will say : “It’s not all bad, You don’t know him the way I do. I know she loves me. When something goes wrong it’s really my fault. He didn’t meant it. She’s just under a lot of pressure. I don’t want to miss out on the good things we have together. He needs me. It’s only because she’s in pain” ….

• Sneaky Perpetrators (P) are also full of S-H & FoA, but they hide it better than Vs.  They also think they’re unique, so different from others that they don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Yet they actually have a lot in common with all other Ps, sharing similar thinking & behavior patterns.

While they may never lift a finger to physically injure anyone, the psychological damage they do to others, with it’s long-term scars, are much harder to heal.
Victims are threatened & terrorized emotionally when they try to object to how they’re being treated. A major result is that they don’t believe they have a right to identify themselves as Vs, or to admit their mate, adult-child, friend, relative, boss….is actually abusive.

• TO outsiders, emotional abusers (E.A.s) don’t stand out – they usually present themselves as decent, successful, calm. They have a talent for creating an image for the public that contradicts how they are behind closed doors. They use public venues to have an adoring audience & as an outlet for their ‘better’ qualities (at work, church, politics….) —covert abusers
— but will take out their emotional sickness on those who are closest, most vulnerable & most dependent on them. In general, Ps needs a safe place to let their dirty hair down where no one will judge them, hold them accountable, object or leave!
TO their families, they’re often childish, controlling, self-absorbed, hypercritical, compulsive, & mean-spirited. What’s so confusing is that this type of abuser is actually BOTH. But the abusive side always wins out in private.

• Covert Abusers are passive-aggressive, which means they show their anger (aggression) sideways (passively) by withholding information, deliberately stalling, being stubborn, sulking, and/or not trying their best. They ignore reasonable requests to put in a reasonable amount of effort into their closest relationships. They pick partners who are push-overs with low self-esteem, who find it easy to make excuses for the other person’s terrible behavior.

EXP: Ps will make you choose an action that affects you both (dinner, movie, trip….) & then blame you because they didn’t like it or it didn’t work out. They also may deny that you asked them for their opinion or input in the first place, accusing you of being controlling. You get set up! Altering another’s reality is abuse.

FORMS of Cover Abuse
Brainwash: using systematic & often forcible pressure, they coerce someone into adopting radically different beliefs from their own
Crazy-making: to throw someone mentally or emotionally off-balance, making them easier to control (not trust their own thoughts)
Divert / Evade : change undesirable topic to something irrelevant, illogical or crazy

Gaslight: psychological manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity (not trust their own memory or observations )
Groomingprepare or train someone to become submissive for a particular purpose or activity, by first being overly-attentive

Guilt-tripping : shift blame, act sincere then retaliate with silence, word twisting & circular conversations
Playing the Victim : act like they’ve being injured by any request for communication or appropriate responsibility  (MORE…)

NEXT: INDIRECT Abusers (Part 2)

13 thoughts on “INDIRECT Abusers (Part 1)

  1. It sounds like planning an escape is the only effective method (“no effort on the V’s part to stop the abuse will work”), which I think will raise abandonment issues in most ACoA’s and trigger SH. Very challenging.


    • Yes,the first time I said NO to an abuser I felt abandoned – that was a surprise – I thought A. only happened when others ‘left’ me! It’s all about S & I. Leaving ‘home’ is scary.


  2. My ex gf said she is an ACOA but was very emotional abusive towards me like a covert narcissist. I mean very cruel words and aloof behaviors would come out of no where. Subtle and overt putdowns. She once leaned into my ear at bedtime and said “ I like weak men”. I’m having a hard time getting over her. She dumped me by email and then strung me along for 6 months. Eventually finding someone else. I went six weeks no contact and then she emailed me and throwing him in my face ( triangulation? ). Do some ACOA’s become narcissists?


    • Yes! Their cruelty is their rage at family that gets taken out on others. Please go to Al-Anon for yourself – being attracted to someone who abuses you has to do with out own damage.


      • Thank you, been looking for that confirmation. Most articles have said they are co-dependent. but this was a covertly cold mean person that did everything that a narcissist would do. Im in therapy and im doing meditations with great success.


      • On my blog in 2010 you’ll find the 2 versions of the Laundry List. She fits the second version. ALSO – there’s not substitute for Al-anon. Al-anon is forever. I was in therapy for 20 yrs but have been in Al-anon for 40 yrs.


      • I have researched so much. I will go read but I believe that you are talking about ” the other Laundry List” I guess what im really saying what are the chances of her being a real narcissist. shes not in recovery. she said she was an ACOA. I had never heard of it, but asked if she was in therapy. she replied ” im done”. She tried to destroy me. she dumped me by email and strung me a long for 6 months. you should see these emails.


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