I’M JUST CURIOUS: The silent abuser

by Debbie Walker

Have you ever been surprised when someone you know ends a relationship because of abuse and you had no idea? It’s hard to believe there was anything wrong because you ‘didn’t see or hear it’. This is the role of the silent abuser.

The silent abuser has had years to wear down the confidence of the abused. When we are told abusive, down grading, negative, and belittling words long enough it becomes real to the abused. That makes the abused weaker and easier to control.

After the surprise you begin to question a few things? Those questions are answered now. Now you know why she never questioned what he said. You understand her lack of confidence, why she had to miss group or couples activities. Many things become clear now.

The definition of ABUSE I chose for this column is: language that condemns unjustly or angrily.

The quiet abuser is always right. The partner’s opinions have no value. They may even be told repeatedly how stupid they are. Even though on the one hand, the abused know these things aren’t true but over time this eats away at their confidence.

I want to add here that his abuse also pertains to our children, maybe even our parents or co-workers. Quiet abuse is possibly in all their communications.

Sometimes this abuse is generations deep. A person may be verbally abused or physically abused as a child. When given the opportunity to get out of the home they jump at the chance. They may be making the next generation of quiet abuser.

One woman says a few people who witnessed the final couple of years of her life asked, “How much longer can you put up with this behavior?” Her answer was “for the duration, she owed him.” As his abusive behavior intensified beyond anything, she could foresee there came a day… The day came when she had to finalize their relationship. It had become a risk for her own health, bordering on breakdown. She found her voice and left.

Because it was a situation of ‘silent abuse’ some family and friends may not understand their separation. They hadn’t witnessed the behavior. Their disbelief may even cause the abused to wonder, “Was it really so bad?” Hell, yes it was!

I spoke to a few people about this and we came up with some of the categories for a quiet abuser: Yelling (is that ever necessary?), silent treatment, isolation (running your family and friends away), roller coaster of emotions (I promise I’ll never do it again) not being allowed to get medical assistance, destroying personal belongings, insults … Sadly, there are still more categories, but I am running out of space to continue.

One thing I did want to mention is the abused will often defend the abuser. Fear of the unknown is often stronger than fear of the known.

I’m just curious if anyone realizes this is the adult version of “Bully.” Please remember this is not a medical report, it is only my opinion. It is also not a reflection on this paper. If you would like to leave a comment or ask a question please contact me at my new email address: DebbieWalker@townline.org.

Thank you for reading. Have a great week.

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