Abusers are like chameleons. They change themselves to suit the settings where they wish to penetrate, manipulate and benefit from, almost always at the expense of others.
So it is very hard, (especially if you are a young person) to distinguish between abusive traits and normal changeable toxic behaviour.
Abusers do not have to be physically or verbally abusing you for it to be abuse, as mental manipulation is all part of the narcissistic game that they play.
If you are a subject of any type of abuse, understand that your abuser does not see you as a human, but instead as an object, a puppet, whose only purpose is to be a means to an end. Where being in control is at the centre of all actions.
If you feel like you can talk to an abuser about themselves and how they make you feel, and are hopeful that a conversation will create a change in their behaviour, then I would strongly advise it as they may realise their actions and reflect, especially if you are someone they love. However if they instead become defensive, deny your abuse and expect you to continue as normal. Run for the hills.
If you are suffering from any type of abuse please do not hesitate to find ways of support and other information available at the beginning of Breaking down Sexual violence part 1.
Or use our 'Lets Chat' button at the bottom of the page to speak to someone who can offer online support.
1. The Puppeteer
These are professional gas-lighters (see number 3) who are always in the background pulling strings. Whether it is in the workplace, at home or in social circles, they want to be in control of every aspect of your life, but they do not want to look bad or 'over-possessive'. So they use human puppets to carry out their dirty work.
By always playing the victim card and using this to manipulate close ones, the abuser will silently control and manipulate you by abusing the trust of close circles and friends. But no one (especially their victim) realises this.
Abusers have issues with communication.
So instead of communicating the many issues they have with you. They become sly, and decide to solve the 'problem' by speaking to your surrounding circles, family members and friends.
This is in an attempt to paint you in a negative light and use this to convince your close ones to 'speak' to you and help change your 'damaging' behaviour. They may try and destroy your reputation in different ways with different social circles including friends and family, usually in an attempt to keep their own image clean and pristine through wearing the mask of a victim.
Abusers may only target members of your life that display a certain level of naivety, and therefore will do what they ask given the correct circumstance and manipulation.
This is a longterm game, that requires patience. It is played by planting negative seeds in all their victim(s) relationships.
& slowly but surely, the seeds will grow into...
Increased tension in your relationships
... & finally increasing your paranoia towards your surrounding circles, which could invoke arguments.
By ruining your relationships the abuser has painted themselves to be the only 'genuine' person in your life and as a result they expect you to run to them for refuge. Eventually the abuser wants you to voluntarily isolate yourselves and replace all your outside relationships with the abuser. At this point the abuser has successfully changed the dynamics of your life to revolve around them. Without damaging their own image.
This almost only usually works by displaying traits of a victim of abuse and using this to leverage pity and therefore establish control. Victimisation is one of the biggest camouflages of an abuser.
2. The Control Freak
They want to be control of what you wear, how you speak, who you associate with and where you go. If you do not follow their rules they will either guilt trip you or verbally/ physically abuse you, belittle you or manipulate you into changing your mind through kind words with malice intentions.
The Control Freak does not feel comfortable with you living your own life, as it could take them away from the distorted view of life the abuser has for them in their head. They expect you to be part of a unit that is led by only them, and any sense of you going against this triggers the abusers insecurities.
Abusers never think their victim(s) can make decisions that are 'against their rules' without an outside influence. They feel like your outside relationships are leading you astray from their plans. & this gets on their nerves. They do not like competition. If the control freak is controlling a young child they will either paint all outsiders to be bad. Or guilt trip the child for making independent decisions, and then use their outside 'friends' to criticise the young persons independent decision making through assuming the influence is the friend. This could manipulate the child to isolate and no longer crave friendships. Which can lead to adult attachment issues, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) , trust issues and problems maintaining relationships.
Being in control is the only way to make this type of abuser happy, they do not seek happiness in conventional ways, and they do not wish to, as they do not want to be in a position where it looks like they are not totally and completely in control.
Basically, they are Sore losers. It is hard for these types of abusers to always 'keep their cool' or be patient, as they are compulsively obsessed with being number 1.
3. The Gas-lighter
You are always crazy to them. Whenever you tell them about their behaviour, they will find ways to make you question your sanity.
They will deny your memories to your face, and by doing this they will attempt to make you believe a distorted version of reality.
This could result in you:
- Questioning the truth,
- Filled with anxiety
If the abuser is successful, gaslighting could result in you not being able to trust yourself, and therefore you may begin to act out of character because you are questioning your own sanity
Gaslighting by an abuser could include the abuser throwing your mistakes in your face when being confronted, exaggerating your mistakes to avoid the conversations on the abuse they carry out towards you.
You could be telling this abuser about how you feel, and they could change the conversation back to your own personal issues. They do this to deflect the conversation away from themselves because they would rather make you feel/look crazy, than be painted in an imperfect light.
They manipulate situations to ensure that they always have the upper hand, so they lie and play games to ensure that they can't be challenged off-guard.
4. The Sensitive Narcissist
These type of abusers take everything personally, The world revolves them.
They will somehow find a way to make you feel like everything that you do directly affects them, when that is not the case. This behaviour affects victims differently depending on the type of relationship that you have with the abuser. If it is a close relationship, then you may start to question how every decision you make will affect your abuser, even if it is impossible for your decision to actually affect them. Eventually you may start to become reliant on their abuser for decision making even if it is for your own personal situations.
New Jobs/Careers/Ventures- Abusers do not like fast change, especially if it will take you away from their lives. They will discourage you or find a way to prolong any decisions that could result in your own personal self development that they have not planned for, as the self improvement will be without their input. An abuser only wants their victim(s) to grow at the pace that they have planned for them in their heads. They feel like if you haven't asked for 'permission' to fulfil a new venture, then it has been done behind their back, and therefore it will be viewed as a 'betrayal' and 'ungratefulness' & this will be used to guilt trip and talk the victim out of making certain decisions.
Socialising- They will over-exaggerate how many times you socialise and use this to make you feel bad for going out. You may go out twice a week and they will assume you are a 'party animal' or that you have many sexual partners. They may be rude to your friends or loved ones, and ensure that any outsiders feel uncomfortable around them. Abusers then become defensive when you no longer wish to be social around them as abusers always think they are perfect and instead blame whoever is 'causing the change'.
Personal entertainment- They do not want you to play any music that they do not like, and they do not want you to watch shows that they do not like. You are not expected to have independent taste and so they belittle your personality. However if further down the line, they start to open themselves up to new things (to keep up their image to outsiders) They may begin to ask you "Why don't you play this, or do this', and then may make fun/belittle you in front of people they wish to impress. They begin to open themselves to the same trends that they may have belittled you for following, completely ignoring the fact that they are the reason you no longer entertain certain things around them or even anymore.
Smoking/Drinking - They take it personally, even if it is not their body, they will say that your actions will somehow result in the decline of their own health, and will ruin they're reputation. They're reasoning is never about you, or how it can affect you. But instead how it is a inconvenience to them and their 'image'. They care more about the imaginary eyes on them than the actual affects to you and your body. An abuser will make their victim(s) feel like the outside world is judging them, they will lie and exaggerate, and use this to enter paranoia into the victim(s) mind.
They will find a way to ruin anything personal, just simply because they do not like it, and will use over-exaggerated reasons to make their victim(s) feel bad for personal decisions.
5. The Overcritical
These types of abusers are in a chronic state of denial. They are incredibly judgemental and think that everything they do is perfect, and nothing can measure up to their perfection.
They develop compulsive traits instead of facing their own problems. They start to obsess over small things to avoid attacking the root of their own issues. This includes over criticising small things about their victim(s) personality, actions and decisions.
They expect too much of you and criticise you for doing anything that is not precisely how they would do it. They belittle you/ look down on you for not being exactly like them. Which can take a big toil on your self esteem.
They expect you to respect them regardless of their actions because they do not feel that they can be criticised. These type of abusers, literally believe themselves to be perfect. But in reality, they are hypocrites. Usually they are not happy with their own personal life, and so they obsess over small things in your life to deflect from their own personal issues.
They usually display signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and would rather do everything themselves because they assume that no one else can do a job as good as them.
These characteristics allows them to also be Control Freaks (number 2).
6. The Pretender
These usually come in the form of enablers.
They could be in tight relations with your abuser, they allow the behaviour, yet they ignore all signs of abuse and allow the behaviour to continue.
A majority of the time an enabler has probably suffered at the hands of the abuser and is probably frightened, and does not want to cross the abuser.
They could also suffer from Stockholm syndrome and may be too dependant on the abuser to see a way out of the situation and therefore does not see any other way of living. However they are usually in a position of power where they can stop the abuse, but turn their head as the abuser may provide them with a 'comfortable' life.
Inconvenience from the 'wrath' the abuser outweighs the urgency to help you. However they pretend that they wish to help, but they explain that they either can't or there are several obstacles in the way. However in reality this may not always be the case. They may just not want to be inconvenienced and lose the life that the abuser provides.
By Shiroe Zita