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Recognizing Psychological & Mental Abuse - Domestic Abuse In Relationships

Updated on March 2, 2015

What Is Mental Abuse?

Mental or psychological abuse is a problem that occurs commonly in many relationships yet the victims of this type of abuse seldom understand what it actually is that's being done to them.

Mental, or psychological, abuse happens when someone is trying to convince their victim that they have mental health issues, that they are insane, or that they are delusional or paranoid or suffer with some other kind of mental deficiency, when in reality they are of sound mind.

This type of abuse is often a sign (though not always) that the abuser has something to hide, such as perhaps a secret affair or the guilt of a crime they may have committed. Alternatively, they could use it to hide their emotional weaknesses. This can be done directly to the victims face or indirectly via covert forms of abuse such as gaslighting.

Gaslighting is when the abuser utilizes means such as moving items around the home and/or switching equipment and devices on or off in an effort to convince their victim that they are losing the plot. Repeated exposure to these types of abuse can lead the victim into questioning their own sanity, which can be a very dangerous path to take.

Indeed some mental abusers go the full length and manage to convince their victims to go to the doctor and have potentially dangerous medication prescribed for their mythical symptoms; medication that the victims don't really need.

Once this has been established the abuser can then use the solid evidence of an official diagnosis and prescribed medication to prove that they were telling the truth about their victim all along, when in actuality they are clearly the one who has mental health issues and possibly needs medication or professional help.

In many cases the victim has already been ostracized well before they could ever have imagined due to their abuser spreading lies and rumours behind their back for an unknown amount of time.

This is especially the case with victims of narcissistic or sociopathic abuse.

What Is Mental Rape?

In addition to the standard forms of psychological or mental abuse, there is another type of abuse known as mental rape (as horrible a word as it is). The definition of 'rape' is to steal a person's innocence without their consent although this is most often used in sexual cases. However, mental rape occurs probably just as much, if not more, than other forms of mental abuse and can result in the victim finding it hard to ever trust another person again.

In fact, sociopathic families are often guilty of this crime yet it commonly goes unrecognized and often seems justified due to the lies and rumours that the abuser has spread about their victim. Many people commit mental rape without even being aware of what they're actually doing.

Mental rape is the act of stealing the victims thoughts (and sometimes emotions) then reporting them in secret back to the abuser who then uses the information to manipulate their victim even further. Not only are the participants stealing the victims thoughts, they are also committing a violation of the victims privacy and basic human rights.

The victim generally doesn't know what's going on though they may eventually find out from participants slipping up or saying things in front of them believing that the victim is oblivious, when in actual fact they may already be suspicious or have knowledge that they are keeping quiet about.

This type of psychological abuse most often occurs when one partner of a relationship is having a secret affair and uses their friends and family to commit mental rape on their behalf (mental abuse via proxy) by convincing them of malicious lies and rumours about the victim, thereby ostracizing the victim.

When victims of mental rape discover the reality of the situation they are often left shell-shocked by the fact that their own family and friends could do such a thing to them and they may find it difficult to trust people again. Their trust and their relationships have been destroyed.

By Sparkster

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    • profile image

      Ginny 

      12 months ago

      Mental (and emotional) rape sound like made up terms unless you've experienced it. It feels like you and your life are broken in half, and that you'll never feel goodness, or innocence, trust, or real closeness again. It has been a gradual, slow process, becoming myself again. Sometimes two steps forward and three back. I try to keep away from all contact, or thoughts of my abuser. I go into a tailspin when I come into contact with his "reality" with his messed up way of thinking of the world. It reminds me of the reality I lived with for so long, and the person I became when I was with him. I'm learning to reclaim my reality, to trust that I am still myself inside. My prayer for everyone recovering from this type of abuse, is that they find happiness again.

    • profile image

      Ray 

      15 months ago

      Why do people do these things

    • profile image

      Kristin 

      3 years ago

      I knew I wasn't crazy even though my world was and until coming across this site, giving my experience a name was next to impossible. I couldn't even find the words, let alone EXPLAIN! Once I started reading, there was my reality to devastating perfection, the most inconceivable is all of this is being done to my grandson too, the dance, gaslighting, psychological, emotional.....all to a 5 year old, to where I've seen that warped, overwhelmed, reality questioning look on his face too! AND this site informed me as well of narcissists who proxy or team up which reinforced our experiences because it's both his parents, one being my daughter! He was even used as a threat if I didn't conform, that I'd never see him again and after 5 years living with me along with his mom, I'd raised him mostly and we haven't seen each other now in 6 months. I needing the abuse to stop & I threw her out, to his dads' delight, he making sure all every threat, every lie and sick, twisted evil became real. Even at their own childs' expense, all because I figured, found them out and I wasn't weakening or faultering! I've seen this irrational rage and so has this little boy and at least I was some protection to him, with overwelming guilt, now he's completely unprotected & even worse I can't begin to think of what defaming lies he's been told by them as to why he isn't alowed to see me anymore or come to what was his home too! They intentionally left all of "her lifes" and his "lifes" belongings, "our" lives here too, and he's but 15 minutes short minutes away too. I've never ached like this, it's heartwrenching and that's exactly why they did it. The plus, they thought they knew me and were SO wrong, my love and will soars above them, it's this little boy who hasn't a chance! At least now our worlds, our lives, our reality has a name and this site is truly lifesaving.

    • profile image

      Liz 

      4 years ago

      My mother and sister are big emotional abusers, they use the word delusional all the time, for explanations for their gaslighting. Anyone uses the word delusional to describe someone, run from them, they are a gaslighter (this is a keyterm used by gaslighters). There is nothing delusional about us, they are just predatory by nature. They feel a sense of power in tearing other people down. They need psychiatric treatment, but because they do not acknowledge they have a problem, they go without treatment. Therefore, we are stuck having to navigate ourselves around these individuals, like a mine field. People becoming more aware that they exist, and how they speak about others, can help us all identify these types of individuals and stay away from them. Abuse is abuse, it does not have to be physical. If more mental health professions will realize gaslighting as emotional abuse and extremely harmful, treatment would be readily given to those effected and those who perpetrate it.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 

      5 years ago from Victoria BC

      1 in 3 women will experience physical abuse and rape. I wonder if those stats also include mental rape - which can go for years unreported or lead to suicide. Thanks for shining a light on this important topic. Yes, men can also be the victim of abuse and children both boys and girls may experience this from a parent of either sex.

    • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

      Sparkster Publishing 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Absolutely.

    • profile image

      SandCastles 

      5 years ago

      So some participants act as good intentioned dupes because the abuser is a skilled manipulator.

    • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

      Sparkster Publishing 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      "I see, the participants pretend to be on the victim's side but they are really acting as spies and are reporting back to the abuser."

      In some cases yes, but sometimes the participant doesn't necessarily realize that the victim is being abused and their intentions may be good. There are people who love to stir up trouble and may willfully take part in the abuse but on the other hand there are people who are not aware of what's really going and may have been 'fooled' by the abuser or may be acting with good intentions.

      The abuser will now know of the victim's suspicions because they have been reported back to them and so they will attempt to misdirect the victim and steer them away from the truth.

    • profile image

      SandCastles 

      5 years ago

      correction: ...always goes out on Thursday nights.

    • profile image

      SandCastles 

      5 years ago

      I see, the participants pretend to be on the victim's side but they are really acting as spies and are reporting back to the abuser.

      So if the victim confides to the participant that they are upset because abuser is always goes out Thursday nights, the abuser will suddenly leave information lying around for the victim to find explaining why he is out late on Thursdays (ie: he's been reading to sick children).

      This makes the participants are as scummy as the abuser. It's incredible how eager some people are to toady up to the bully. How disloyal.

    • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

      Sparkster Publishing 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      That's the general idea. The victim may have turned to someone for help/advice who they confided in but that person could be a 'pawn' who is being used by the abuser to carry out abuse by proxy - the victim's thoughts, suspicions and feelings which were told in confidence are fed back to the abuser who now knows exactly where the victim stands - probably exactly where they want them.

    • profile image

      SandCastles 

      5 years ago

      I mean the participant read the victim's diary.

    • profile image

      SandCastles 

      5 years ago

      Mental rape is the act of stealing the victims thoughts (and sometimes emotions) then reporting them in secret back to the abuser who then uses the information to manipulate their victim even further.

      It probably got spammed because of the 'r' word. Thanks for getting back to me.

      So the participant is revealing confidential information to the abuser. ie: the victim confided in the participant and the participant ran back to the abuser to tell or the victim read the victim's diary and then told the contents to the abuser.

      How else would they steal the victim's thoughts?

    • sparkster profile imageAUTHOR

      Sparkster Publishing 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi SandCastles, for some reason your comment was initially marked by Hubpages as SPAM and I have only just come back, noticed and approved it. This hub has now been updated to contain more accurate and descriptive information on 'mental rape'.

    • profile image

      SandCastles 

      6 years ago

      I don't understand what mental rape means.

    • Kenna Kane profile image

      Kenna Kane 

      6 years ago from Augusta Georgia

      I'm finally free of the mental abuse. Feels good to feel like I'm not crazy or "delusional", my ex husbands favorite term. Good hub.

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 

      6 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      How fascinating! Very eye-opening and informative article!

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