Emotional and Psychological Abuse Tactics that Can Go Unnoticed

Posted on in Family Law

Illinois divorce lawyerDomestic violence is far more than hitting and other forms of physical violence. It can involve psychological and emotional manipulation to maintain control over the victim. In many cases, emotional and psychological abuse occur alongside physical abuse. Other forms of violence, such as financial control and sexual abuse, can also be present.

Below are four forms of psychological abuse that can go unnoticed because they tend to be subtle. Look at the examples provided for each to help yourself determine whether psychological abuse is happening in your household.


Triangulation is a manipulation meant to pit two parties against each other or control the flow of information between two or more parties. It is the use of a third party to relay information to another individual when there is no reason to involve the third party, thus making a “triangle” of communication.

Examples of triangulation include:

  • Spreading rumors about an individual;
  • Giving different parties different versions of a story to create conflict between them; and
  • Recruiting supporters through favorable treatment in an attempt to make another party jealous or use them later to help coerce a victim into compliance.

Gaslighting, Blocking, and Opposing

These three forms of psychological abuse employ similar tactics and result in similar outcomes.

Gaslighting is the act of twisting information and contradicting an individual in an effort to make the victim doubt his or her perception and memory. The term comes from the 1944 film Gaslight that tells the story of a husband who makes his wife doubt her sanity for his own benefit.

A more direct form of gaslighting is known as opposing. This occurs when, in an effort to control conversations, one partner challenges every statement the other party makes, treating him or her as an adversary while refusing to put forth his or her own thoughts or attempting to have a constructive conversation. Blocking is another way an individual can sabotage and avoid constructive conversations, which occurs when the abuser switches topics, tells the other party to stop talking, or simply refuses to acknowledge him or her.

Indirect Violence

Indirect violence is the act of damaging or destroying the victim’s possessions in an effort to frighten him or her or command compliance. Hurting the victim’s pets, breaking his or her possessions, and destroying household objects in fits of rage are all forms of indirect violence.

Work with an Experienced Naperville Divorce Lawyer

If you are in an abusive marriage, you need to get out now. The first part of getting out of an unhealthy marriage is physically leaving the home and getting yourself to a safe place, such as a relative’s home or a domestic violence shelter. The next step is to obtain an order of protection to keep your former partner from harming you and start the paper trail that could support claims of abuse you make later. The third is to start working with an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer to begin the process of ending your marriage. Contact Shaw Sanders, P.C. today to set up your initial consultation with a lawyer who can help you exit your marriage. Call us at 630-584-5550 for help.




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