Author Topic: Subtle types of covert abuse.  (Read 13794 times)

SilverLining

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Subtle types of covert abuse.
« on: June 16, 2008, 01:05:06 PM »
The concept of covert abuse has been life changing for me.  I learned the idea from the book by Patricia Evans on verbal abuse.   It finally became clear what I had been experiencing in my FOO for most of my life.  My parents were usually not overtly and obviously abusive, but their typical way of relating to their offspring was chronically invalidating, unsupportive, and indifferent to our real emotional needs.  Here are some of the subtle covertly abusive behaviors I have noticed. 

First there are behaviors identified in the Evans book: 

Discounting the other persons  achievements, contributions or opinions.

Counterpointing the victims ideas and statements.

"Crazymaking" by constantly switching back and forth between positions in order to oppose the victim.


And some more I have identified from my personal experience:

Failure to acknowledge the age, developmental level, expertise, credentials, of the victim.  The abuser might chronically treat the child as a adult, or an adult as a child.

Monologuing.   Any sustained speech of more than about 30 seconds IMO may be shading into abuse.  Lack of reciprocal dialogue. 

Excessive explaining instead of having a reciprocal conversation.  The "explainer" is invalidating the knowledge, expertise of the victim.     

Failure to ask qualifying questions in a conversation.  Is the victim interested in the topic or already informed? 

Failure to have a relationship memory.  The abuser expects the victim to know everything about what is going on with them.   But they don't reciprocate.  Issues of importance to the victim are instantly forgotten. 

Failure to understand the difference between opinions and facts.  What the abuser believes is typically considered "factual" while the victims are subject to emotional irrational opinions.  Abusers may rarely qualify any statement by saying  "I think" or "I believe".  What they believe is the truth.   

Not allowing the victim to be "irrational" or emotional once in awhile.   The abuser does whatever they want whatever they want, based on the mood of the moment.  But the victim is typically chastised for emotional behavior  (e.g.  "You are just not being logical")




Growing up I didn't often get "abused" in the overt traditional sense, but I've rarely had interactions with my parents, especially my father,  that didn't fall into one of the categories listed above.  My father can't talk for more than a minute without falling into one of these patterns.   
 

Certain Hope

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Re: Subtle types of covert abuse.
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 01:19:03 PM »
Yes!

Silver Lining... I just realized/remembered that you are tjr!  It's so good to read you again.

Our past discussions on the shy/covert N made such an impact on me!  Many people don't seem to realize just how much damage a more subtle, quiet-appearing, non-flaming N can inflict.

Your post here speaks to so many things I've experienced.... thank you!

The end result of all this discounting and counterpointing, crazymaking and monologuing and excessive explaining...  well, you wind up feeling invisible!
Doesn't take long before it's clear that your input means nothing at all, because it really is all about the N !!

I'll be back when there's more time to explore these points, just wanted to thank you again, so much...  and welcome you back (haven't seen you in ages, but then I wasn't reading much).

Sincerely,
Carolyn


SilverLining

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Re: Subtle types of covert abuse.
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2008, 01:20:31 PM »

The end result of all this discounting and counterpointing, crazymaking and monologuing and excessive explaining...  well, you wind up feeling invisible!
Doesn't take long before it's clear that your input means nothing at all, because it really is all about the N !!

I'll be back when there's more time to explore these points, just wanted to thank you again, so much...  and welcome you back (haven't seen you in ages, but then I wasn't reading much).

Sincerely,
Carolyn



Hi Carolyn.   Likewise your posts have been a great help to me in recognizing this stuff.  It's been kind of shocking to realize how much of my fathers behavior falls into one or more of the categories of covert abuse.  In a brief conversation on "Fathers day" he covered at least 3, which inspired me to post my list.    I used to wonder why I felt so drained and depressed every time I had contact with him.   He almost can't get through a sentence without doing one of these things. 

It's still depressing to deal with him, but I feel like I am snapping back faster these days.  Understanding what is going on helps a lot.  I can start to see a place where it could get kind of humorous:  Let's see how many N points the guy can score in a 5 minute monversation...     

 


SilverLining

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Re: Subtle types of covert abuse.
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2008, 01:28:51 PM »


Resulting in:

Excessive explaining - instead of having a reciprocal conversation. [/color]



Love, Leah

Hi Leah.  That adds another dimension to the process.  Since they typically respond to the victim with a discount or a counterpoint, then all there is left for them to do is explain their own POV.   They've already invalidated and deflated the victim, so then they can fill up the space with their own explanations. 

It's really strange to experience because it's like watching someone have a conversation with themselves.  My father actually looks away into space like he's talking to someone in another world.  He's pretty much detached  from any connection to the real others around him.  I wonder if he'll have to be institutionalized as he gets older. 

Certain Hope

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Re: Subtle types of covert abuse.
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2008, 01:37:55 PM »


Hi Carolyn.   Likewise your posts have been a great help to me in recognizing this stuff.  It's been kind of shocking to realize how much of my fathers behavior falls into one or more of the categories of covert abuse.  In a brief conversation on "Fathers day" he covered at least 3, which inspired me to post my list.    I used to wonder why I felt so drained and depressed every time I had contact with him.   He almost can't get through a sentence without doing one of these things. 

It's still depressing to deal with him, but I feel like I am snapping back faster these days.  Understanding what is going on helps a lot.  I can start to see a place where it could get kind of humorous:  Let's see how many N points the guy can score in a 5 minute monversation...     
 


Thanks, Silver Lining. I hear you!

I haven't had a phone conversation with my parents for many months. Many, many months. Seems like I might have posted about it way back then... my Dad had called (actually, he had my mother call here for him - - as though he doesn't know how to dial long distance) and I was so thrilled.  We laughed a bit and he told all of his usual stories, making a grand joke out of the fact that he'd told my mother that he wanted to place this call... and I was so excited... told him, Oh, keep up the good work! You can call every Sunday if you want... or pick a day... be sure to do that, okay?"     Not a word by phone since.  They still send their weekly notes, though.  I don't respond, although I did send Mother's and Father's Day greeting cards, also with no note.        See, I got a "two-fer".  What a bargain.   Watching them play off of each other is too much for me.

Since all that, I've been exposed to a couple other similar characters... one at work... and although I try to make light of it, in time it does feel like an anvil on my chest.
Your post makes me want to find more humor in it, though... thanks for that. I'll accept the challenge!  Here's to snapping back... or better yet, never taking that plunge in the first place!

Hugs to you, with appreciation,

Carolyn

SilverLining

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Re: Subtle types of covert abuse.
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2008, 12:13:48 PM »
Oh, keep up the good work! You can call every Sunday if you want... or pick a day... be sure to do that, okay?"     Not a word by phone since.  They still send their weekly notes, though. 


Isn't it amazing how the threat of an ongoing dialogue sends them scurrying back to the writing desk?   A weekly call would be an obligation, and he might actually have to remember a few of the things you say.  Writing lets them control the interaction and exaggerates the importance of their statements.   

I was able to pretty much shut off the letter flow from my father by threatening to make it more of a dialogue.  When I started replying in kind, he quickly stopped writing.  He just wants to make decrees, not engage in anything resembling reciprocal interaction. 

Certain Hope

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Re: Subtle types of covert abuse.
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2008, 12:36:48 PM »
Oh, keep up the good work! You can call every Sunday if you want... or pick a day... be sure to do that, okay?"     Not a word by phone since.  They still send their weekly notes, though. 


Isn't it amazing how the threat of an ongoing dialogue sends them scurrying back to the writing desk?   A weekly call would be an obligation, and he might actually have to remember a few of the things you say.  Writing lets them control the interaction and exaggerates the importance of their statements.   

I was able to pretty much shut off the letter flow from my father by threatening to make it more of a dialogue.  When I started replying in kind, he quickly stopped writing.  He just wants to make decrees, not engage in anything resembling reciprocal interaction. 

Yes. 
And more..
a big part of his thrill with the whole written communication seems to be his sharing with me many of my mother's latest ridiculous activities/oddities... mocking her.  In writing, he purges himself of all this gunk so then he can go back and put on the good guy routine to those immediately around him, while I'm left covered in the slime of it all (not to mention all the memories).
Feels like they both use me to adjust their reality and re-write their history... and I refuse to play along.

If only... they'd be real. But then again... I guess they are. Like it's said - when somebody shows you who and what they are... believe them!

Isn't that something how another voice so quickly shuts them down?
I know it still hurts, tjr... even once you're able to lighten up a bit about it... it still re-opens a wound.
At best, it's like picking a scab... and although that's a nasty analogy, I really think it fits.
And I don't want to do it anymore! 

Good to hear from you again.

Carolyn