Who is the psychological abuser? (2022)

Who is the psychological abuser? (1)

No one is protected from psychological abuse. Anyone can fit into the psychological profile of the stalker who does not resort to physical violence, but to psychological violence.

Being a slimmer form of violence, which usually comes from close people, such as a partner, a family member, or a friend, is more difficult to detect. That is why we can be victims without realizing it.

What is psychological violence and what are its consequences?

Psychological violence consists of a regular pattern of verbal offenses, threats, intimidation and constant criticism, as well as subtle tactics of intimidation, shame and manipulation.

The psychological abuser uses these tactics to control and dominate his victim. The problem is that although emotional abuse does not leave visible wounds such as physical abuse, the traces aren’t less painful.

In a study conducted by the universities of McGill, Minnesota and Rochester, were analyzed 2,300 children aged between 5 and 13, and followed for almost 30 years. The researchers discovered that psychological abuse leaves wounds as deep as physical violence. Children who had been victims of emotional abuse had the same psychological problems as those who had received physical punishment.

Another research conducted at the Charité University Medicine in Berlin on 51 women aged 18 to 45 revealed that physical and psychological abuses leave different traces in the brain.

Emotional abuse leaves scars in the regions associated with understanding and control of emotions, as well as in the areas of recognition and response to the feelings of the others. These are areas of the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobe that are normally activated when people are asked to think about themselves and reflect on their own emotions.

(Video) 4 signs of emotional abuse - Viann Nguyen-Feng

These areas of the brain become thinner due to the fact that, in order to manage anxiety, the brain alters the signaling patterns of the affected areas, reducing their level of connectivity. In other words, it is as if it gradually turns off those areas of the brain.

As a result of this thinning of the cerebral cortex, victims of psychological abuse are more likely to suffer from depression, mood swings, and show more extreme emotional reactions. These people gradually lose the ability to reflect on themselves and find the most appropriate way to deal with emotions. This collapses them into a negative spiral making them even more vulnerable to psychological abuse.

What is the profile of the psychological abuser?

In the popular imagery, the image of the psychological abuser is associated with a man because is usually the one that has the most violent behavior. However, it is important to note that since emotional abuse is not physical but involves a power hierarchy and an emotional submission, women can also become stalkers. In fact, the main features of the psychological abuser profile do not vary by gender.

1. Intolerant

The psychological abuser is usually a rigid and intolerant person who does not respect the opinions and decisions of others. Normally is a person full of prejudices and stereotypes that often react aggressively when something does not match his or her plans and expectations.

2. Very authoritative and controllable

One of the problems of the psychological abuser is that he thinks that only his way of thinking and doing things is correct, so others have to submit to his or her will. If he or she does not obey him/her, becomes angry, even if he or she is not right. Of course, this person is not open to dialogue because he/she believes there is only one truth: his/her. Everything that does not fit in his or her way of seeing the world is simply wrong. As a result, they will try to control everyone and cause emotional suffocation.

3. Thinks in terms of “all or nothing”

(Video) Psychological abuse - caught in harmful relationships | Signe M. Hegestand | TEDxAarhus

Psychological abusers often see life in black and white, they do not contemplate colors and do not accept the shades of gray. For them there is no way out, things are good or bad, and this leads them to develop an extremely rigid thought that hinders their relationships with others and causes continuous clashes.

4. Specialist in emotional manipulation

These people resort to emotional blackmail to manipulate their victims and get what they want. They can pretend to be sick if this can give them some benefit, but they can also blame the other or create fear. Their purpose is to destabilize the victim from an emotional point of view, to present themselves as the only salvation for the person so that he or she ends up in their hands almost without realizing it.

5. A fascinating person, at least in the beginning

It is very difficult to find out the profile of a psychological abuser because at first this person looks fascinating and caring. They know how to hide their true “ego” until their victims trusts and shows their emotional weaknesses. Only then they will activate their destructive and controlling behavior.

6. A very critical person, but not self-critical

Since the psychological abuser is a very stiff person, he or she does not fit in with criticism. Assumes anything like a personal attack, so he or she will always react to defend himself/herself. It is usually hypersensitive and permalicious. But he or she does not hesitate to criticize others and often use destructive criticism because his/her goal is not to help the other grow, but make him or her feel bad and submit him/her. Usually tends to face his/her mistakes, the criticisms or a bad day, venturing his frustration on others, turning them into his boxing sack.

7. Suffers emotional lability

Psychological abusers do not know themselves well, so they reacts very emotionally. We could label them as emotional illiterates since they have little control and knowledge of their emotions. The problem is that those who live next to them live on an emotional roller coaster, because this person can quickly pass from being humorous and kind to feeling irritated and angry. Not knowing what to expect creates enormous uncertainty and anxiety in those who are close to that person.

(Video) How to overcome emotional abuse forever (end psychological abuse)

8. Has a low self-esteem

The psychological abuser conveys a strong image, but actually uses it to hide the low self-esteem. This person submits the others to feel important but often his/her aggressive or manipulative behavior is just a mask to hide deep insecurity. This is the real reason why they react so badly when criticized or are shown a mistake they have committed.

9. Insensitive

These people are not usually very empathetic, they do not take the place of the victim, but take on an egocentric and selfish view of the situation from which they want to exit like winners. This insensitivity is what allows them to manipulate and harm others without feeling guilty.

10. They make false promises

When the psychological abuser realizes that can lose control over his/her victim, he or she will not have scruples making false promises. It is common that they promise to change their behavior, but never do that, simply because they do not want to do it. This person does not mind lying to achieve his or her goals and is unwilling to change his/her way of being to please others or making life easier.

The most common personality disorders in psychological abusers

There are some personality disorders that are closely linked to psychological abuse.

– narcissistic personality disorder. The person has an exaggerated and grandiose self-perception, he or she feels deserving the admiration of others. Tends to exaggerate his/her achievements and thinks that has all the rights but no duty. Often acts with arrogance and lack of empathy.

(Video) It's Time to Talk about Psychological and Verbal Abuse | Lizzy Glazer | TEDxPhillipsAcademyAndover

– anxiety personality disorder. This person shows contempt for the rights of others and the rules of society. He or she has no scruples to lie, to resort to violence, to transgress rules and laws, and does so without any remorse.

– borderline personality disorder. This person is usually involved in intense and unstable relationships, especially because of his/her continual mood swings. The problem is that has little control over his/her impulses, so that can cause a lot of damage and harm others. It is likely that feels empty, get angry easily, or develop a psychological relational profile marked by paranoia.

Are psychological abusers aware of the damage they cause?

Psychological abusers are not always fully aware of the damage they cause to their victims. In some cases, these people adopt this way of behaving because it is the only one they know, because they do not have the psychological tools they need to relate more assertively. Indeed, it is likely that during their childhood they were victims of emotional abuse.

Other psychological abusers are aware of the damage they cause, but they are not interested in it because they lack empathy and believe that the goal justifies the means. These stalkers are even more dangerous because they usually have no limits to achieving their goals.

In any case, whether the abuser is aware or not, the victim must have well clear that it is not his/her fault and don’t have to endure the situation. Also psychological abuse is violence.

Vachon, D. et. Al. (2015) Assessment of the Harmful Psychiatric and Behavioral Effects of Different Forms of Child Maltreatment. JAMA Psychiatry; 72(11): 1135-1142.
Heim, C. M. et. Al. (2013) Decreased cortical representation of genital somatosensory field after childhood sexual abuse. Am J Psychiatry; 170(6): 616-623.


Who are usually the abusers? ›

But the truth is that in 90% of cases, the child knows and trusts the person who commits the abuse. This means that most abusers are either immediate family members (i.e. parents and siblings) or other close relatives (e.g. uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins).

What is the psychological make up of an abuser? ›

The psychological profile of an abuser includes a lack of emotional control. Abusers are emotionally illiterate. They have a lot of trouble expressing their feelings. They don't know how to reflect, and they lack any kind of empathy.

What are three examples of psychological abuse? ›

Types of Psychological Abuse
  • Intimidation.
  • Coercion.
  • Bullying.
  • Ridicule.
  • Humiliation.
  • Gaslighting.
  • Harassment.
  • Infantilization.
Jun 21, 2022

Which are the 3 main warning signs that someone may be an abuser? ›

Warning Signs of an Abusive Person
  • Jealousy and Possessiveness. Wants to be with you constantly. ...
  • Controlling Behavior. ...
  • Quick Involvement. ...
  • Unrealistic Expectations. ...
  • Isolation. ...
  • Blames Others for Problems. ...
  • Blames Others for Feelings. ...
  • Hypersensitivity.

Who is more likely to be an abuser? ›

Overall, women were five times more likely to suffer sexual assault as an adult than men (20% compared with 4%), and twice as likely to experience domestic abuse (26% compared with 14%).

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
May 23, 2017

Why do people stay with people who hit them? ›

A lot of people in abusive relationships stay in them because they love their partner and think that things will change. They might also believe their partner's behavior is due to tough times or feel as though they can change their partner if they are a better partner themselves.

What causes someone to be an abuser? ›

Some people witness it in their own families growing up; others learn it slowly from friends, popular culture, or structural inequities throughout our society. No matter where they develop such behaviors, those who commit abusive acts make a choice in doing so — they also could choose not to.

What causes a person to become emotionally abusive? ›

The strategy of trying to control others fails to satisfy them for the simple reason that the primary cause of their anxiety is within them. It springs from one of two sources—a heavy dread of failure, or fear of harm, isolation, and deprivation.

What are the 4 types of psychological abuse? ›

  • 2.1 Intimate relationships.
  • 2.2 Child emotional abuse.
  • 2.3 Elder emotional abuse.
  • 2.4 Workplace.

What are examples of emotional psychological abuse? ›

Emotional abuse includes:
  • humiliating or constantly criticising a child.
  • threatening, shouting at a child or calling them names.
  • making the child the subject of jokes, or using sarcasm to hurt a child.
  • blaming and scapegoating.
  • making a child perform degrading acts.

What are 5 examples of abuse? ›

Examples include intimidation, coercion, ridiculing, harassment, treating an adult like a child, isolating an adult from family, friends, or regular activity, use of silence to control behavior, and yelling or swearing which results in mental distress.

What causes someone to be an abuser? ›

Some people witness it in their own families growing up; others learn it slowly from friends, popular culture, or structural inequities throughout our society. No matter where they develop such behaviors, those who commit abusive acts make a choice in doing so — they also could choose not to.

What are the characteristics of an abuser? ›

Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:
  • Extreme jealousy.
  • Possessiveness.
  • Unpredictability.
  • A bad temper.
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Verbal abuse.
  • Extremely controlling behavior.
  • Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships.

What is it called when someone loves their abuser? ›

Stockholm syndrome is a coping mechanism to a captive or abusive situation. People develop positive feelings toward their captors or abusers over time. This condition applies to situations including child abuse, coach-athlete abuse, relationship abuse and sex trafficking.

What does abuser mean? ›

/əˈbjuː.zɚ/ someone who treats another person in a cruel, violent, or unfair way: a child abuser.

Which type of abuse is the hardest to detect? ›

Emotional or psychological abuse

Emotional abuse often coexists with other forms of abuse, and it is the most difficult to identify. Many of its potential consequences, such as learning and speech problems and delays in physical development, can also occur in children who are not being emotionally abused.

How do you stop abuse? ›

Ten Things You Can Do to Prevent Child Abuse
  1. Volunteer your time. Get involved with other parents in your community. ...
  2. Discipline your children thoughtfully. ...
  3. Examine your behavior. ...
  4. Educate yourself and others. ...
  5. Teach children their rights. ...
  6. Support prevention programs. ...
  7. Know what child abuse is. ...
  8. Know the signs.

What is the purpose of abuse? ›

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn't “play fair.” An abuser uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb.


1. How Narcissists Make You Think You're Crazy: Psychological Abuse
(Lisa A. Romano Breakthrough Life Coach Inc.)
2. The 5 Signs Someone Has Suffered Narcissistic Abuse
3. A Story Of Covert Emotional & Psychological Abuse
(Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast)
4. Unmasking the abuser | Dina McMillan | TEDxCanberra
(TEDx Talks)
5. Three Signs that ALWAYS Indicate Child Psychological Abuse by a Narcissisitc Parent, Part 4
(Jeff Morgan)
6. What is Gaslighting Psychological Abuse and How Narcissists Turn the Tables on You: Crazymaking
(Lisa A. Romano Breakthrough Life Coach Inc.)

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