abuse red flags, abusive relationships, domestic abuse, domestic violence, healing from domestic abuse, narcissistic abuse, narcissistic psychopath, narcopath, psychopathic abuse

Overt Abuse vs. Covert Abuse

Abusers have a wide variety of skills and tactics concerning abuse of their victims.


Some abuse is “overt” which means that it is visible or otherwise able to be  observed by the five senses. Verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, burning and restraining the victim are some of the ways an abuser uses overt abuse. 


Covert abuse is invisible and often is not recognized by onlookers as abuse at all. Often the victim does not even see it until they are already affected in a psychological way by this abuse. This invisible abuse is premeditated and intentional on the part of the abuser. 

The victim may see the covert abuse as accidental and that the abuser does not realize what they are doing to them. Narcissists and psychopaths are aware of the covert abuse. They use is systematically to crush down the self esteem of the victim and their confidence in their own perception of reality. 

The abuser will create an illusion for the victim called “shared psychosis” which is an altered, twisted reality in which the abuser makes themselves necessary to the survival of the victim. The victim is brainwashed to believe that they need to advice, the presence, the wisdom and the protection of the abuser. 


Gaslighting is a tactic used by the narcissist which has many faces. There are 4 or 5 ways that abusers can use to gaslight their victims. There is an intentional misleading, misinterpreting, twisting and altering of reality. The victim will become unsure of they can remember things properly because the abuser denies the things the victim remembers to be have happened. 


The abuser will make the victim feel like there is a problem with their memory and that they cannot properly remember events and things that were said by the abuser. Narcissists and psychopaths will re-write events any way they see fit and call them reality.

The victim is commanded to believe the version of reality the abuser tells them to, rather than their own memory of the events. 

Over time the self esteem and self confidence of the victim is eroded away and they turn to the abuser to explain what is real to them. The abuser may suggest, accuse or cause the victim mental illness. The abuser will say that the victim is unable to tell reality from fantasy. 

Smear Campaign

On-lookers of the relationship often believe the abuser when he tells them how he has to deal with the antics of the “overly sensitive ” victim. The abuser will often play the victim themselves and tell people that their partner is abusing them, rather than the other way around. 

The abuser can make up stories about the victim or change things around to make the victim appear at fault. 

Being in a state of anxiety and exasperation, the victim may appear distraught and it can be misunderstood by others.

Friends, co-workers, church members, even therapists believe that the abuser is being victimized. They see the victim as mentally ill or as “too sensitive” depending on how the abuser describes them to others.

This is the beginning of a smear campaign of the victim that can often continue long after the relationship ends. The narcissist can ruin the reputation of the victim and strip them of any friends, allies or family support.


About the victim, people wonder “what happened to her?”

” She used to be level headed and now there is something wrong with her. See how she makes accusations of this person that has only tried to help her?”

Abuser can Appear Benevolent

The abuser may show others how he / she has tried to help the victim in so many ways with money, support, and advising them. The abuser comes off looking like the good partner who was taken advantage of. 

The narcissist wears a mask that people think is really them. It never occurs to people that are looking on from the outside of the relationship that he /  she  might be lying right to their face.

People do not expect people to lie about their entire personality.

People understand little lies and lies to get our of trouble but it does not occur to normal people that someone would lie about everything including who they are, what they want, how they feel and what they think altogether. 

Psychopaths  and narcissists are not just in the movies.

They make up 3 to 4 percent of the population. You have interacted with them and never even recognized them. They target people who are easy to manipulate. These are usually people with abuse and toxic shame from their childhood. 

People that come from covert abuse tactics during their childhood are more likely to fall for the lies of the narcissist. The narcissist pretends to want and care for the victim.

The love-bombing stage is the beginning of the lies. This is the first mask that the narcissist uses to lure the victim in. 

Abuse is abuse and it causes damage to the victim that takes a long time to heal from.