Abuse isn’t always loud and noticeable. Sometimes, you may not even realize you’re being abused until someone else points it out to you, or until you are finally out of the relationship. It’s important to know the signs of abuse so you can recognize them early on and get help.
Verbal, emotional, mental- these are all forms of abuse, but they may be so subtle that you don’t even recognize them right away. You may just be left with a feeling that something isn’t right about how your partner interacts with you. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to reach out for support if you experience any of these signs of silent abuse:
Minimizing your feelings.
If your partner hurts your feelings, they may try to minimize it by saying you’re overreacting. Instead of apologizing for hurting you, they make you feel crazy for feeling hurt at all. They may even try to convince you that they were doing what’s best for you by hurting you.
Blaming you for what they did.
A silent abuser never takes responsibility for how they treated you. They will always find a way to make it your fault. Called you names? You deserved it. Giving you the silent treatment? You asked for it. They do this so often that you become conditioned to just accept responsibility automatically in order to avoid more confrontation with them.
Claiming that YOU hurt THEM.
Someone who silently abuses loves to turn things around on their victim. You could be explaining to them how much they hurt you and all of a sudden it’s about them and what you did to hurt them. They never validate your feelings and instead make themselves into the victim. You may even end up apologizing to them for how THEY made YOU feel.
Giving you empty apologies.
If you ever do happen to get an apology out of a silent abuser, it’s not worth anything. Their apologies are always empty and just to appease you in the moment. It’s not backed by changed behavior or even a real awareness of what they did to hurt you. These empty apologies can send you on an emotional rollercoaster ride, giving you a slight high that things might change, only to be plunged down into the darkness again when you realize they were never really sorry.
Convincing others that you’re the abuser.
Not only does the silent abuser love to play the victim to you, they like to play the victim to everyone else around them, too. They do something called triangulation, where they convince the people in your life that you did something to wrong them, and then as soon as they achieve this, they start working on making you believe that everyone hates you. They destroy your relationships from the inside out until you are totally isolated, alone, and dependent on them.
Making you question yourself.
The silent abuser is really good at something called gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of abuse that makes you start questioning your reality. For instance, they may say something abusive towards you, then deny that they ever said it, leaving you questioning yourself and what actually happened. This type of abuse can, quite literally, start driving the victim insane.
If you recognize any of these signs of abuse in your relationship, first know that you are not to blame. Your abuser preyed on you, and you absolutely do not deserve to be treated this way. There are things you can do to protect yourself from the silent abuser, including setting boundaries and seeking support from mental health professionals. If you feel that you are a victim of domestic violence, we encourage you to reach out for help.