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What is a covert abuser, and why can they be potentially more dangerous than an overt type?
Based on my personal experiences with abusive people, as well as hearing the stories of over 100 clients, I think that people can incur great levels of psychological damage from covert abusers.
Covert types of abusers are more difficult to identify and mentally label as abusers. When I say to “mentally label” them, I mean for the victim to believe in their own minds that this person is an abuser.
The partners and family members of these covert types have a much more difficult time accepting that the person is intentionally harmful and manipulative. The victims tend to rationalize this type of abuser’s behavior, even after they have recognized the behavior itself as abusive.
The victims of these covert types of abusers tend to go back to them, out of guilt, concern and worry over them. They tend to go in and out of their belief that this partner or family member has a personality disorder that is harmful to those around them.
Partners of these types of abusers will have clarity one day, about the behavior of the abuser being intentional. The next day, they will question whether or not the abusive partner is aware of how their behavior is affecting others, or if they are even aware that their behavior is abnormal at all.
Covert abusers are very good at getting their partner or family member to see them as a victim. They are skilled con artists that are good at using people’s good nature against them.
These types of abusers are pathological liars, just like other abusive, personally disordered people are. They are just as good at lying as the other cluster B personality disorders, if not more so.
As a victim of a covert abuser, you will question your own perception of reality, in relation to the abuser. You will question your own perception and interpretation of events. This will eventually carry over into other areas of your life, and create confusion and brain fog, as you lose your sense of being grounded in reality.
You will lose your confidence in your good judgement and your intuition. The alarms can be going off in your head and in your body about something, but you wont feel as in – touch with those alarms. You won’t trust your own natural alarm system, that is designed to keep you safe.
This is by design of the covert narcissist or sociopath you are entangled with.
The covert abuser will get you to distrust your own brain, body and nervous system. Your body can be screaming at you that something is very wrong, while the abuser is telling you that you are prone to overreacting.
The covert abuser will label and describe your feelings, thoughts and reactions as crazy, unbalanced, selfish or “too sensitive.”
One of the red flags you can look for , that let’s you know that you are in a dangerous relationship, is when you find yourself continually thinking more about how that person feels, as a priority over how you feel.
You find yourself ruminating and trying to figure out their behavior. Your thoughts become caught up in what that person might be thinking and feeling. Your decisions become based more on how you think that person will feel and react, than on how you think and feel yourself.
You will feel obligated to cater to this person, but you won’t always recognize that the covert abuser is doing things to cause you to feel this way.
You will feel like something is mentally wrong with you, but you won’t always recognize that this person is doing and things to make you believe that.
You won’t see how or why the abuser would try to psychologically harm you. In your mind you will rationalize that it would be like sabotaging themselves if they were to disable you.
Why would they harm you, if they need you to be functional, to help them?
At this point you have been pulled down into the sociopath rabbit hole. Your core beliefs about them, and what they may or may not need you for, are being controlled by them. You begin to make your decisions based on false beliefs, that the covert abuser has convinced you are true.