Mental abuse is central to the narcissist's evil ways. The invisible realm of mentally and emotionally abusive relationships - whether with narcissists or other human predators - defies comprehension. Nothing about them makes any sense, so you just can't help but try to understand.
Emotional and mental abuse takes place 'behind closed doors' in more ways than one.
First off, abusive relationships thrive on the privacy of 'home' where all manner of abuse can take place away from the public eye. Intimate relationships are prime grounds for psychological mayhem in the hands of the unscrupulous.
Secondly, as mentioned above, the scrapes, bruises, broken bones and scars of emotional and mental abuse are largely hidden from sight. Although vicious attacks are unfolding there's no one there see it and intervene.
Last but not least, the mental and emotional abuse typical of narcissists and other human predators - is perpetrated by a person in disguise. While their vicious side is directed at you, their other face - which isn't their real face, but a mask - is directed towards the outside world.
This makes it even harder for others to realize the true extent of abuse that's actually going on. It's unthinkable to most people that your partner or loved one is actually a fraud, a poser, an imposter. It's unthinkable to you too - or used to be depending on how far your eyes have been opened to date.
'Who goes around wearing a mask all day long anyway? And to what purpose? To what end? It just doesn't make sense.' That's your typical (and very understandable) thinking of a mind uneducated to the reality and nature of the human predators one the prowl among us.
Through incredible manipulation and remorseless cunning the emotional vampire or predator inserts themselves into your life. Then as you lay in bed one night - once your guard has come down and you least suspect it - they sneak away to do their dirty deed.
They open the back door and let the snake of abuse slither on in. The mask slips or is simply removed and the real narcissist or human predator reveals.
So the first and most important aspect of dealing with narcissists and other mental and emotional predators is to recognize them for what they are. To see them behind the mask they wear.
Once you see this, once you know what you're dealing with, you can begin taking steps to protect yourself from the abusive manipulations that are undoubtedly going on.
Mental and emotional abuse becomes easier to thwart or deal with when you can finally see it coming. You're no longer easy prey. You start to build your internal and external defenses.
A predator favors cover from which to launch their attacks. So the first and most important mask to rip off - is that of the narcissist and human predator themselves. To expose their position, to flesh them out 'into the open' - becoming aware of the very nature of the beast.
The second mask to rip off is the one on mental and emotional abuse itself - bringing to light what otherwise may go unrecognized - even by those who are suffering it.
Right out physical abuse is a crime punishable in a court of law. It's relatively easy to recognize, detect and prove and therefore can be met with consequence. Emotional and mental abuse is no less of a crime, of course, yet it largely goes unpunished because it's so much harder to detect, let alone prove.
To my mind a large part of the problem is in the word 'abuse' itself.
'Me? Abused? Never.'
The problem with the word 'abuse' is it's immediate (and often subconscious) association with the physical. Abuse of the body is evident. Abuse of the heart, mind and soul - not so much.
Abuse is supposed to be ugly, vicious. It's also supposed to be gross, blunt. When we think of abuse - the word 'subtle' isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind.
Yet what happens when abuse is subtle? What happens when it's largely surreptitious coming at us from an angle instead of head on? What then? Is it still abuse? Does it qualify? Is it any less painful or damaging when it comes at us that way; or perhaps it's even more dangerous than its obvious counterpart?
Where is the line drawn on abusive vs. normal daily conflicts and friction? It's easy to be blinded to the reality of mentally abusive relationships if you don't know how mental and emotional abuse actually looks like.
Mental emotional abuse in real life is always ugly - but it can come in beautiful, deceiving wrappings. A mentally abusive relationship isn't as obvious as a physically abusive one - the torture unfolds in so many different ways and in such varying degrees of subtlety that it's easy to miss it for what it is.
See if you can identify the complexity of it in the shared accounts of abusive relationships below...
As you read through these personal accounts of abusive relationships consider what makes for a healthy vs abusive relationship - where's the dividing line between 'abusive' and perhaps just difficult, albeit 'normal', interactions. Share your thoughts and comments below.
Consider to dare add your own story-to-tell - helping others to better recognize emotional and mental abuse as it happens...
Share your story here!