The difference between mind games and psychological abuse

Mind Games

Some will say mind games are just a part of dating. Finding your lobster in an ocean full of sharks is not easy business and you might have to put in more effort than you thought. People tend to completely disregard their communication skills and instead use vague and noncommittal phrases in an effort to avoid getting hurt or to keep themselves open to other opportunities. If someone says they might show up to a party you’re both invited to, or they might make plans with you but something else came up, they’re probably playing with your heart.

By keeping someone “on the hook” without making any actual commitment, they can have their cake and eat it too, so to speak. If you’re fine with that, that’s okay. Keep going as you were. But if you’re not, try talking to them. If they make excuses, they might not be looking for what you’re looking for. It’s okay, and probably better for you to move on.

The same applies when you’re in a committed relationship. Saying things are fine when they’re not, or lying to your partner about where you’re going or who you’re going to be with is a sign that the relationship is not as solid as you thought, or that you’re not communicating. The best way to avoid the mind game trap in a serious relationship is to talk. Tell each other what you want out of the relationship and build trust so there’s no need to feel insecure.

Psychological abuse

Psychological abuse comes in a number of forms, from gas-lighting to open threats of physical or sexual violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) says that nearly 50 per cent of people have experienced “psychologically aggressive” behaviour from an intimate partner. Psychological abuse includes things like embarrassing a partner on purpose in public, insults about a partner’s intellect, appearance, etc., to belittle them and degrade their self worth, telling a partner where they can and cannot go and who they can and cannot hang out with and then keeping tabs on them at all times, actual or implied threats of physical or sexual violence, and statements that include, “if you do this, I’ll do that,” such as “if you break up with me I’ll hurt you/myself/that person.”

Psychological abuse can also include withholding money, information and/or preventing a partner from getting a job so they can gain independence. People who are being psychologically abused often find themselves isolated from friends and family, not being allowed to go out with them, call them, or even being told to cut them out of their lives. Gas-lighting is when someone convinces their partner that they are ‘crazy’ for thinking the things they do. They suggest that the issues you bring up with them, such as lying or threats, are figments of your imagination. This is also psychological abuse.

According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence , seven out of ten women who have experienced psychological abuse show symptoms of PTSD and depression. Psychological abuse is also a higher predictor of PTSD than physical abuse.

Anyone can experience psychological abuse. It does not matter your sex or gender, or the sex or gender of your intimate partner. If you think you, or someone you know, is being psychologically abused talk to someone. There is help available. If you think that you or someone you know is in immediate physical danger, call 911 immediately.

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