Abuse can take many shapes and forms, some of which are so insidious that they often go unnoticed. In a recent social media discussion, users shared their experiences and insights on the less apparent but equally damaging aspects of abuse. From sleep manipulation to manipulative therapy-speak, here’s a comprehensive listicle article that brings to light the subtle, yet profoundly harmful, forms of abuse that many people don’t realize exist.
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“I realized that my insomniac boyfriend would find ways to keep me awake to keep him company. He would even subtly kick me or make loud noises if I fell asleep.”
Many users agree that messing with someone’s sleep is a form of abuse that often flies under the radar. Waking someone up deliberately, as one commenter experienced, can lead to anxiety and even paranoia. It’s a subtle but harmful way to exert control over someone’s life.
Disregarding someone’s feelings and making it about oneself is a manipulative tactic frequently used by abusers. When an individual employs this tactic, they minimize the other person’s emotions and shift the focus to their own feelings. This can leave the victim feeling unheard and dismissed, as if their experiences and emotions are unimportant. It’s a harmful approach that can create a power imbalance and make the victim question the validity of their own feelings, ultimately giving the abuser more control in the relationship.
Neglect, which means not providing the care and attention that someone needs, is a form of abuse that often isn’t immediately obvious. Some users emphasized that neglect can cause lasting emotional and psychological harm, just like more obvious forms of abuse. It’s crucial to understand that neglect can be just as harmful because it can leave a person feeling unloved, unsupported, and neglected, which can have serious consequences on their well-being and mental health.
“My parents did a lot of yelling and now that I have kids, it’s wild how that has become my reactionary default move with my own children. I hate that I do it. I work really hard to not do it. And I find myself apologizing to my children more than I would like, because I internalized that yelling is the normal response to children acting up.”
Yelling may seem like an obvious sign of abuse, but the long-term effects can be subtle and severe. Users shared how years of walking on eggshells and living in a hostile environment can damage a person’s nervous system, leading to anxiety and trauma.
Special education teachers have shed light on a disturbing aspect of abuse. They’ve emphasized that abusers can exploit the vulnerabilities of disabled individuals, such as setting off sensory issues or triggering PTSD responses. This subtle form of abuse can be hard to detect, but it has a deep and lasting impact on the victims, affecting their emotional well-being and overall quality of life.
Some users shed light on the complex issue of mothers who treat their sons as surrogate boyfriends or husbands. When their sons begin to form relationships with others, these mothers can exhibit signs of possessiveness and jealousy, creating an unhealthy dynamic.
Many users have had experiences with individuals who misuse therapeutic language as a way to avoid being accountable for their actions. This can involve setting boundaries that are unreasonable and then justifying them as part of a therapeutic process. For example, someone might claim that a “therapeutic boundary” requires their partner to cut off all communication with friends and family. They justify this as a way to maintain a healthy relationship, asserting that it’s a necessary part of their personal growth and well-being. In reality, this unreasonable demand is a form of manipulation and control.
“People need to re-embrace the idea that it’s OK to like/dislike things for totally arbitrary reasons or for no articulable reason at all. So much of the time now it seems like people try to justify their opinions in a morality sense or tie their opinions to a sense of identity whereby it reflects on both themselves and other people as a person, in the sense of like character and stuff.”
It’s crucial to understand that not getting along with someone doesn’t mean they’re a bad person deep down. Some users pointed out that just because you have differences in personality or don’t see eye to eye doesn’t automatically make someone toxic or bad. People can have disagreements or not get along for various reasons, but it doesn’t mean they’re fundamentally bad at heart. It’s important to separate personal differences from making harsh judgments about someone’s character or who they are as a person.
“I didn’t even realize it was a common thing with narcissistic parents until recently.”
When parents or caregivers don’t teach a child how to stay clean and take care of themselves, it can be a kind of hidden harm. Some users pointed out that when someone controls or restricts a child’s access to things like washing and grooming, it can make the child feel bad about themselves and can even be harmful to their health. So, it’s important for adults to help children learn how to stay clean and take care of themselves for their self-esteem and overall health.
“I feel that deeply. I learned once that my card was declined getting groceries because he bought a $400 pair of boots.”
It’s not just about who makes the most money in a relationship. Some users highlighted that when one person criticizes or controls the other person’s spending, or demands to manage their money, it can be a form of financial abuse. This kind of control isn’t always easy to see, but it can be harmful. So, it’s important to share financial responsibilities and respect each other’s choices when it comes to spending money.
“My grandma gives my cousin’s child peanuts any chance she gets, luckily his allergy isn’t severe, but he still gets hives and ends up miserable.”
Trying to “test” someone’s food allergies, either out of disbelief or to prove them wrong, is a form of manipulation that some users have experienced. It can erode trust and cause emotional distress.
Lastly, not providing seating for employees can be a subtle sign of workplace abuse. Users highlighted that humans are not meant to stand for eight hours straight, and employers who disregard their employees’ well-being may be contributing to a toxic work environment.
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