a plain list of emotional abuse tactics

As a sort of addendum to and bit clarification for my previous post… here’s a simple (non-exhaustive) list of abuse tactics and some of the names you can use for them.  I’m not Prepared to make a full-blown post with in-depth explanations arguing the relevance of all these terms to conversations about anti-ace sentiment, but I can at least throw out a few keywords here.

guilt-tripping — this is a pretty well-known one.  What makes this different from a in-good-faith callout or criticism is that the purpose isn’t just to change your behavior, but specifically to instill a sense of guilt and make you feel trapped.

victim-blaming — another one I expect should be familiar to a lot of my readers.  The abuser will try to convince you that they only abuse you because you did something to deserve it.

gaslighting — very classic term, makes a good search keyword for finding resources.  Involves psychologically undermining you and making you question whether you really feel what you think you’re feeling or if what you think is happening is really happening.  Instills a lot of self-doubt.

invalidation — a cousin to gaslighting.

humiliation/degradation — outright mockery and violation that casts you, your emotions, or your behavior as ridiculous or that makes you feel awful about yourself. Instills a heavy sense of shame.

denial, minimization, & justification — different words for slightly different shades of the same idea.  Abusers will downplay the relevance of the hurt you feel, feign innocence and/or righteousness, weave a web of excuses, and make their actions sound fair and reasonable.

intimidation — making you feel unsafe, even if that “just” means psychologically unsafe.  Does not require a physical component.

violation of social boundaries — ex. defying a request such as “Please don’t bring up X around my parents.”  Can tie into humiliation or intimidation.

isolation — making you feel alone, cutting you off from potential sources of validation and support, and making you believe that everyone is against you.

…Sound familiar?

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7 responses to “a plain list of emotional abuse tactics

  • saraharnetty

    Great list.

  • luvtheheaven

    Yep, experienced all of these from my mother growing up. They happen in so many types of relationships, unfortunately.

    I always thought the definition of victim-blaming was more someone not involved in the abusive relationship blaming the victim instead of the abuser (or in addition to the abuser), though. Like “why didn’t she just leave him?” kind of sentiments. Or of course people talk about it all the time in terms of rape culture. I guess the definition you gave I always thought of more as the “justification” thing you listed later on, the abuser justifying what they did in the sense that you “Deserve it”.

    • Coyote

      It certainly can mean that too. It’s not exclusive to external commentary, though.

      And yeah, there’s a lot of overlap between all of these. I decided to list more terms rather than less.

  • Hezekiah the (meta)pianycist

    Violation of social boundaries has happened to me in online contexts a lot (offline contexts too, but I want to describe what it looks like in online contexts). I explicitly invited commentary on a post I wrote, and a person privately messaged me about it. From their message, I could tell that they didn’t actually understand the background information of my post. I said to the person (because I was not willing to spend time providing the background info) “Please don’t message me about this subject again,” and they sent additional messages accusing me of all sorts of things. It’s a really common abusive tactic online for people to not respect boundaries like “Please don’t message me about this.”

  • “Is this abuse?”: A Guide For Aces | The Ace Theist

    […] I can think to do, in response, is to draw attention to the subject.  I’ve already written a list of emotional abuse tactics and an explanation of a stock example of abusive twisting, and this guide can be considered an […]

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