Which of the following are responses to abusive behavior:
1. “Stop hitting me!!!”
2. “Stop calling me names and putting me down!!!”
3. “Stop texting me to tell me that you love me while I’m watching a movie!”
Obviously, #1 is abuse. No one would argue that being hit by someone close to you is abuse, physical abuse. And #2. Being called names and being insulted would be considered emotional abuse. No doubt.
But #3? Huh? Why wouldn’t you want someone to text you and remind you that you are loved? How could that be construed as abusive? Someone’s stretching it there.
See? It doesn’t make sense. Covert abuse doesn’t make sense. There is no evidence. It can so, so easily be explained away. In trying to tell about it, you just sound crazy. You can’t explain the situation to someone else, even though you know that you weren’t being treated with respect (and isn’t respect the opposite of abuse?).
Covert abuse is not obvious abuse. Even the one being abused may not see it, only thinking that they themselves must have done something wrong, must have misunderstood something. Or that they are going crazy.
“Covert abuse is sly and underhanded. It is hard to identify and requires long term observation in some situations. It is made up of a few actions and creates an atmosphere of intimidation, uncertainty and perplexity in its victim.” (source link)
“Passive Aggressive behavior is a form of covert abuse. When someone hits you or yells at you, you know that you’ve been abused. It is obvious and easily identified. Covert abuse is subtle and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse.” (source link)