Look at these examples below and if any of them are something you have encountered, realize that they are abuse. Abuse, especially in the early stages may be a bit difficult to recognize. Just store them in your mind and look for more abuse to judge whether they are serious or just a personality quirk. Anything that takes control over your ability to decide for yourself is abuse. Don’t allow it to continue.
You tell him about something good that happened to you today and he walks away as though you weren’t talking. You are invisible and he is not interested in anything you have to say. Or you tell him how much you are involved with this project. It has great meaning to you and you are spending a lot of time working on it. It is your masterpiece. You are pouring your life into it. He looks at it and walks away laughing at it (and you.)
The Subtle get even:
You know he is annoyed or angry with you because he just broke your favorite dish “accidentally”. The fact that it was a platter passed down in the family from your grandmother and was irreplaceable made it even more painful. What can you say when he says, “It just slipped out of my hand. I tried to catch it, but I couldn’t.”
Or you planned on going to an important party and at the last minute, his back hurts and he can’t go. You were really looking forward to the party and he insisted you stay home and take care of him. Except after about two hours in, you notice that he seems to be feeling perfectly fine and it’s too late for you to go.
This is the most common one. He left the list of what you want from the store in the car and didn’t get most of what you needed to make a special dinner. Your best friend called and left an important message and you accidently never got it. These situations are hard to pinpoint until they become common place and you see the pattern. This is called passive aggression. “It wasn’t my fault!” He is angry at you for beginning to take control of your life and he doesn’t like it or he is warning you that things could get worse if you ever thought of leaving.
You were on your way out the door when your husband casually mentioned that because you did all the driving and the friend you were on your way to pick up never did the driving, maybe she wasn’t a real friend after all. After you got in the car, you thought his comment through and decided that you did do all the driving, but that was okay with you because you liked your friend. His seed has two motives. One, that you were spending money on gas and he completely controlled the money in the family and that annoyed him. Two, that he was trying to isolate you. Friends might mention how sick your relationship with your husband was and encourage you to leave him. This was just a more subtle act and less apt to drive you further away from the marriage. That would mean he would have greater loss of control. He was messing with your mind.
He tells you that you are mistaken about something. You didn’t remember it correctly. After a while you begin to question your memory. Everything inside you says that you did remember correctly, but you trust him and he said you were wrong. After a few conversations, you start to really wonder and he begins to tell you that there is something wrong with you. When you finally do think that maybe it‘s your stress or because you are tired all the time, maybe he is right. You are now completely under his control.
An example of gaslighting to the extreme: You begin to move away from the politics that you had both agreed on. Your husband is very upset and angry about this change. He finally tells you that if you continue on that ridiculous direction, he would have to send you away, (away from your home and children). The message was that he would send you to a mental institute. He was a doctor and could have done that if he wanted to follow through with his threat. You may go along agreeing with him on his view of politics, but over time, it takes its toll and you become more and more afraid of him and scared that you may really have a mental problem.
Somehow you made him angry. He went into a rage and started knocking items on the floor. He pulled drawers out and let them drop to the floor. He threatened to take your credit card away and take the keys to the car so you wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. He scared you. That was his intent. He didn’t physically touch you, but you never knew when he would go further. You were petrified, never moving a muscle. When it was all said and done, you still didn’t know what you did. What you did know was that he was determined to make you totally dependent on him.
He threatens to kill your dog because you made him angry. You were careful not to make him angry, and yet, you made him angry. You gave your dog to your mother the next day. Other threats are to harm or kill anything you love, take away your children if you do go through with a divorce doing anything he needs to scare and control you.
Be aware. The more control he loses, the more dangerous he becomes. Control is an addiction he has and will do anything to maintain that addiction at any price. Part of his brain overtakes his thinking and he can go into a rage. He can hurt or even kill you. Notice the progression and take the steps you need to be safe and keep your family safe.
These are just a few things to look for. You may make excuses like, “That’s just the way he is. I can work around it.” When you are in an abusive situation, you don’t always realize it.