Many victims of sociopaths/psychopaths, following emotional abuse are left confused and bewildered by what has happened to them. Often their abuser didn’t seem like a ‘crazy’ person to the outside world. In fact the reverse.
Not all sociopaths are physically violent, but ALL sociopaths ARE emotionally abusive.
What is emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse can cover a wide spectrum of behaviours towards you that are designed deliberately to control, violate, manipulate, or invade your own personal space.
So what is emotional abuse? Is it just name calling?
Emotional abuse is any type of abuse that effects YOUR emotions. Anything that violates the way that you feel, and prevents your freedom. If another person stops you from living your life in the way that that feels right for YOU, be it spiritually, financially, professionally, socially, mentally, this is emotional abuse. Anyone that stops you from being you, for no reason, other than to control and dominate you. This also includes deliberate manipulation, preventing you from seeing family or friends, preventing you from pursuing personal hobbies.
This is not an exhaustive list, and I am sure that you could add to this list, but some examples of emotional abuse are:
- Lying either about you – or to you
- Stealing – any form of theft, be it theft of personal property, theft of friends, theft of your life (we all know that sociopaths can go for the whole lot)
- Financial abuse – either taking money without your permission, or manipulating you so that you spend your money, and pay for them. Often lying to you, or creating a false persona to do so.
- Minimising things that are important to you, your friends, family, career, your hobbies, interests, dreams
- Name calling
- Playing psychological mind games (a good example of this, where a sociopath is concerned, is accusing you of things that they are guilty of doing themselves).
- Shouting, ranting, yelling, talking over you, not allowing you a voice, or to be heard.
- Witholding finances, accommodation, clothing, preventing you from going to work, or calling you excessively at work
- Violating your personal space
- Making ‘jokes’ about your person, and telling you that you are being ‘sensitive’ if you feel upset about this
- Mocking you, and who are you (see above)
What other examples can you think of?
What is the effect of emotional abuse on the victim?
This is how it felt to me being emotionally abused. I gave the analogy of Alice in Wonderland, who drinks the potion and feels smaller…. and smaller….. emotional abuse can make you feel:
- Increased anxiety and panic attacks
- Confusion about your personal identity
Again these are just a few feelings – i am sure that you can think of more. How did being emotionally abused make YOU feel?
The last bullet point DEPENDENT is an interesting one. Others might question why do you feel connected or dependent on someone who is abusing you? Often, the answer to this, is addiction, dependency – created deliberately by the sociopath to own and control you.
Often in the beginning of the relationship, it starts off well, like an amazing honeymoon, a dream come true, where you are swept off of your feet. Hearts and flowers are everywhere. This feels almost too good to be true. It feels too good to be true, because it is…..
Relationships do not start emotionally abusive, or at least they very rarely do. If they did, then people would not stay. They become emotionally abusive after a time, once you are hooked it will begin and often this emotional abuse starts slowly at first. With a sociopath you might not realise you are being abused, until you are dealing with the carnage of your life after the relationship has ended.
If relationships started abusive in anyway, you wouldn’t have entered into the relationship. You would have moved on your way. Usually the relationship starts off ‘wonderful’ and often it is the thought of this ‘wonderful’ that you yearn for, when things start to go wrong. That memory of wonderful, can be the one thing that keeps you hooked. After all, you had never felt that way before?
Emotional abuse, is systematic, slow, continual and relentless. Once you have been broken down, you do not have the time or space to rebuild and recover. Instead you are kept down, and prevented from not only personal growth, but from recovering from the last blow, and finding yourself.
Some types of emotional abuse, are so controlled, and clever even, that the victim often does not realise that they are being abused, all that they know, is that they ‘feel bad’. They might still look at their abuser as a hero, or as somebody who is there for them, a rescuer.
Sociopaths often make good things bad. Once they have pulled the rug from under your feet, they like to play rescuer to make things better for you. Often, the truth is, that they were the ones who made it bad in the first place. This can be a deliberate, a strategy designed to keep you down, and keep you low, so that you are no threat to them, so that you won’t escape, so that they can keep control of you.
It is not your fault – How to rebuild
First of all, know that what has happened to you is NOT your fault. Sociopaths often look for people that they can mould into the person that they want them to be. Almost always this will be someone that they can have full control over.
Take the first step!!!
You don’t need to see the whole staircase – just take the first step….. whatever that first step is to rebuild YOU.
- Establish and stick to no contact – you have to let go so that you can grow!
- Write a list of what YOU want – and keep this list HIDDEN – SECRET, this is YOUR list. Write a list, and this list will be YOU – all about you. All what YOU want to make you happy. How to find YOU again
- Think (or try) as best as you can, to THINK POSITIVE. I know that this is difficult if you are feeling anxious, frightened or depressed. When a negative thought hits…. please write this down, and then write next to it, a positive thought (so for example if you feel bad because someone did xyz to you…. write how good it could feel to escape, or the sense of elation you could feel to overcome your difficulties).
- Get in contact with one person that you haven’t spoken to in a while. If it is someone that you knew BEFORE you met your abuser, all the better as this person knows the REAL you, not the you that you were made into
- As much as you can, avoid negativity, this includes negative people, people who do not have your best interests at heart. Focus on you, and rebuilding you.
- If you are feeling depressed, suicidal, or finding it difficult to cope, reach out and ask for help. I understand that readers are everywhere in the world – that services are different in different countries, please if you are finding it difficult to cope, try to find one person to reach out to. Even if it is just an online support group. Just speak to someone about how you are feeling.
What would changes in the UK law mean for victims in the UK?
Personally I think that any measure that makes abuse illegal is a good thing, but I suspect that it might be difficult to prove. Especially given that sociopaths are also compulsive pathological liars.
Sociopaths use a false love persona to lure you in, and manipulate you – whilst creating a new reality for you. One of fear. It can be difficult to escape and to ask for help, when your life has been made so small, and when you are living in fear.
Dont be afraid to speak up and speak out!
Speak up and speak out. Contact a local domestic abuse service in your area, and ask for help. Workers there will be experienced, and will know that discretion is key. They will understand and will not judge you if you choose at first, not to escape. What will be key is keeping you safe.
Being able to speak to someone else, takes away the sociopaths power, it offers a different viewpoint and perspective. If you are seeking help, and are still in the relationship (or even if you have just escaped) do NOT tell the sociopath. Keep it to yourself. Use this as a support system for you. Another worker, can help to undo the brainwashing that sociopaths do. They can help you to regain your power and to get the strength to get out, and stay out.
ABUSE IS NOT YOUR FAULT!!!
You might feel humiliated and ashamed about what has happened (or is still happening) to you. This is common, especially as sociopaths thrive on fear, and threats to humiliate and shame you. They control you, by minimising you. Remember that a specialist worker, is just that. There is little that they haven’t heard before. What is important is that you find
- Someone that you trust
Remember that you cannot change anyone else, but you can change you. Sometimes, especially after being abused, you need help to rebuild you. If this is happening to you, please reach out and ask for help. If you don’t have the confidence to see someone face to face, look for online support groups.
Personally, I welcome these changes. Anything that offers hope to a victim. Anything that offers support, can only be a good thing. For someone who has been emotionally abused, that very first step, is often just finding someone who gives them hope, finding someone that that they can trust…. from there…. anything is possible.
Copyright datingasociopath.com 2014