To the world, they’re perfect. Probably some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. The kind that will drop everything to help an elder cross the road. That’s why it’s hard to believe when victims tell you that they’re abusers.
These types of people are invisible killers. They never show their true colors in public. Behind closed doors, their partner, children, and even family members are constantly walking on eggshells to avoid violence. They are expert manipulators and extremely hard to detect. There’s no yelling or threatening in public. Occasionally, you might see them use jokes to belittle their partner.
What makes these invisible killers dangerous to society is that they don’t leave any bruises or spill blood until it’s too late. They use insidious tactics and tricks to make a victim doubt their own intuition and look crazy to other people, especially the authority. They create trauma bonds to make it hard for survivors to walk away. Many survivors are coerced to do horrible things they don’t want to do. It’s a psychological game like an episode of Criminal Minds where survivors are stuck in a room and forced to do the unimaginable or lose something they love. Most often it’s their children or pets.
How can you spot these invisible killers?
1. Control & Isolation
If your child, friend, or someone you know stops talking to you out of the blue for several weeks or is behaving out of the norm, there’s a chance they’re going through what we call the “isolation” phase. This is when their abuser is threatening them to cut out people so the abuser will have full control of the victim. In healthy relationships, people might need some space from time to time but in an abusive relationship, abusers love using isolation to control victims from socializing with the outside world. The isolation tactic is used to prevent the victim from outside influence and let the abuser continue to stay in full control of the vulnerable victim.
Narcissists have a way of making their victims very cautious of everything they do to avoid narcissistic rage. Victims are always walking on eggshells or being extremely careful about everything they do and say. If you notice a person who’s constantly suffering from hypervigilance or always. trying to appease a situation, they are living in survival mode. These people are constantly running scenarios through their heads about how their partners will react. Narcissists are exceptional at ingraining a code of conduct into victims.
Partners of narcissists may say things, like…
“I don’t want to say the wrong thing. “
“You should really ask him/her what is best. “
“I’m afraid I’ll say or do something that s/he won’t like.”
“It is best that I stay out of this.”
All of these statements show fear. Victims are very cautious of how they talk and act to avoid punishment from their abuser.
3. Criticism & Insults
It could be a few harsh jokes but narcisstic will subtly belittle or criticize their victims in public. It would be as simple as bossing the victim to go do something he/she doesn’t feel comfortable doing, or calling them names such as, “stupid.” If you see someone constantly trying to please their partner and is afraid to be themselves, there is a chance he or she is in an abusive relationship.
Toxic partners or narcissists often love to insult their partner regularly to stir up painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions and validate their grandiose self-perception. Insulting victims give these invisible killers what we call the “narcissistic supply” that they need to protect and maintain their emotional stability.
4. Undiagnoisable Illness
Mental health matters and many victims of abuse experience high anxiety and depression. Over time, these conditions lead to other physical illnesses such as appetite changes, upset stomach or nausea, stomach pain and other gastrointestinal distress, muscle aches and pains, insomnia, and fatigue.
If you know someone who’s always sick but doesn’t know what is causing the illness, or is unable to explain the sickness to anyone, they may be going through some form of abuse. Many victims struggle to leave their homes or would make unreasonable excuses to skip happy events due to abuse. If you know someone who plans events several months in advance and cancels at the last minute with unreasonable excuses, they may be facing some form of mental abuse in their lives.