Psychological Abuse and its Types

psychological abuse

What is Psychological Abuse?

When someone is harmed emotionally using verbal and non-verbal communication in a way that it results in various mental health conditions, is known as psychological abuse or emotional abuse.

Psychological abuse does not leave any physical sign like bruises but it can lead to other emotional and mental health conditions. 

Few warning signs of emotional abuse are being withdrawn, scared, and upset. 

In this article, we will learn about psychological abuse and its types

Types of Psychological Abuse:


1.  Gas lighting:


Gas lighting is a mental abuse where the victim is tricked into doubting their own sanity.

 The term “Gas lighting” comes from the 1930’s British play where a man slowly drives his wife severly mentally distorted just by changing the intensity of the hag lamps in their home. The man mentally manipulates his wife and slowly drives her reckless just by disturbing her reality. He also played tricks like knocking on the walls or disappearing items.

To better understand we can look at an example:

“Imagine if someone in your home hide something (let’s say your tablet) when you are not around and act as if that thing never existed and you are just making it up”

Let’s look at another example:

“Someone in your house makes starting and haunting sounds, and convince you that there is somebody around”

This technique is also used by domestic abusers as shown in social media (movies and films) where the abusers beat their victims and tell them “you made me do this”.

This is the major cause of Stockholm’s syndrome, which can be invoked in the victim by abuser within a few days.

Gas lighting is an important step in brainwashing where a person breakdown victim’s prior sense of reality first so they can rebuild them in their ideal person (what they want you to be).

2. Catfishing:


Catfishing is related to gas lighting, where cat fishing is one step ahead of creating a whole fake persona and manipulating others.

Let’s understand cat fishing first!

Let’s suppose, you create a fake social media profile, for example you make a profile of a celebrity, and convince them that they are talking with the real person (the real celebrity) and it’s not a scam, and get their information, pictures, location, and other details. This is called cat fishing.

Uses of catfishing:

Online dating sits are full of catfishers.

 It can also be used to same someone for money.

It is also used by law enforcement as a mean of entrapping criminals.


How is catfishing related to Gaslighting?


Imagine instead of one “fake profile”, 5 different people telling you the same thing and force you to doubt your sanity. Whereas, in reality there are 5 different fake profiles used by one person can convince you.

Is catfishing Illegal?


Catfishing is a form of internet harassment, where catfishers use the information of the victims to blackmail them for their own good. Therefore catfishing is a form of internet harassment according to the cyberbullying laws of US.

3.  Isolation:

This is a silent psychological abuse that victims are unaware of in the beginning.

Isolation is when the abuser cuts them (the victim) off from all outside influences. Such as forbidding the victim from communicating with their family members.

This can look like:

“We can do a great dinner at home. There is no need for you to go to dinner with your parents”

Overall, isolation involves cutting off the victim’s ties to the outside world or from the people who care about them (the victim)

4. Brainwashing:


Brainwashing is pressuring someone to give up their beliefs and attitudes and accept ideas of the manipulator. 

But how do the abusers brainwash the victim?

They do this by the following strategies:

          The abusers make themselves the sole source of your livelihood. The victims is not allowed to have their own money, they must wear what they are allowed to, and even eat as per the abusers demand.

          They deny the victim form having any contact from the outside world. The victim is not allowed to have friends, cannot contact family and are not permitted to work.

          The mental abuser built fear in the mind of other person. They may give you seemingly simple, but actually impossible task, and if not done on time, they will be punished.

There are few other factors, but we will discuss them any other time.

5. Manipulation:


Manipulation is so common that most people don’t believe it to be a form of abuse. They don’t even realize that they are being manipulated.

Manipulation can be done in a relationship, at workplace, and even at a supermarket where a salesperson manipulates you into buying the product.

Manipulation involves using tactics such as deception, coercion, and control to influence or dominate another person’s thoughts, emotions, or behaviors.

6. Infantilization:


When someone who is not a child, but still treated as a child is called infantilization.

They are subject to excessive control and manipulation of their thoughts and feelings. The victim then gets increasingly dependent on the abuser.

 7.  Verbal Abuse:


Last but not the least, verbal abuse is also a form of psychological attack.

It is when a person uses their words to belittle, humiliate and intimidate or dominate someone. Verbal abuse can include insults, threats, and yelling at the subject or the victim.


Final Words:


 Though psychological abuse does not harm physically, it can affect your self-esteem and mental health. Once you are out of an abusive relationship, you should practice overcoming low self-esteem.


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