A-Z of Emotional Abuse

Terminology used relating to narcissism, sociopathy and psychopathy.Vocabulary you may come across on your journey of understanding ‘what happened’; used by psychologists, therapists and victims. This list is just a brief overview of some useful terms for understanding the impact these relationships have on ourselves our families and our lives

These types of relationships so hard to heal from.

The damage caused, puts you in to a state of confusion, you have no idea the abuse is taking place; and like Chinese water torture, it happens very very slowly and it turns you insane! During the relationship you tell everyone how amazing they are; so when it ends they don’t understand what happened either. They may ask you ‘what happened, you were so happy’ and you don’t know.


ABUSIVE CYCLES • The ongoing rotation of destructive  behaviour used to gain power and control over a person. The cycle of abuse IDEALISATION • DEVALUATION • DISCARD


BAITING • A technique used to gain an emotional response from a person, usually in the form of an angry, aggressive or emotional reaction.

BELITTLING • Masked Nastiness, a put-down usually   masked by fake friendliness, advice, or words of “wisdom”.  This message is designed to make the attacker feel better about themselves. 

BLAME SHIFTING • Never taking responsibility for their actions or the role they played. This is done by playing the VICTIM, minimising others feelings, CIRCULAR CONVERSATIONS, guilt tripping and  pity stories.  


CIRCULAR CONVERSATIONS • Arguments which go on endlessly, you believe you have a resolution but they are resurrected again repeating the same pattern.

CLOSURE • Relationship closure involves honest, healthy, non-judgmental communication that helps with letting go. Being denied CLOSURE when you’re breaking up, is unhealthy: it’s damaging, destructive and controlling. 

CODEPENDENCY • A relationship in which an otherwise mentally-healthy person is controlled or manipulated by another. Manufactured actions intended to create desire, jealousy, dependence, addiction, and anxiety.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE • COGNITIVE DISSONANCE occurs, when we experience a state of holding two or more contradictory thoughts or beliefs at the same time. In a relationship, this can be the belief that their partner loves them, they are being told they are loved, but experience conflict when the behaviour isn’t mirroring the words. This form of abuse penetrates so many levels, your brain has been tricked to believe what you were told was the truth, it takes time to de-traumatise.

COMPLEX POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (C-PTSD) • C-PTSD is a psychological injury, resulting from repeated trauma over months or years, rather than a single event. Reliving the traumatic experience can include having nightmares or emotional flashbacks, avoiding certain situations, feeling constantly on-alert, a feeling of looking over your shoulder, jittery or being startled easily. 

CRAZY EX • They talk about their exes far more than a healthy individual should in a new relationship. During the IDEALISATION stage they tell you that you are the only person who has fully understood them, you are Soul Mates. Once they secure you they tell you the stories about their CRAZY EX. They might have been subjected to bipolar or CRAZY MAKING behaviour during and after the relationship. They may tell stories of their ex being bitter, jealous or still in love with them, this maybe true. However it is not normal for someone to have attracted so many CRAZY relationships and with them being the common thread is it possible they are reason for the craziness?

CRAZY MAKING • (also see cognitive dissonance) CRAZY MAKING in relationships is a dynamic used to question yourself and leave you full of self doubt, wondering if you might be going crazy. It is a form of EMOTIONAL ABUSE involving mind games. It erodes your confidence, slowly allowing the other person to gain more power and control over you and the relationship. You may question your sanity and find yourself becoming more emotional, needy or dependent on the other person. 


DEVALUATION • During the IDEALISATION stage you were swept off your feet with the LOVE BOMBING. During the DEVALUATION stage, they check you are more interested in protecting the relationship than you are in protecting yourself and they do this by making comments about your intelligence or your abilities and perhaps your dreams. If you question this, you are perhaps over sensitive, or they were only joking! And these subtle put downs, followed by some IDEALISATION, change the chemical reaction in the brain. You find yourself addicted and you override your INTUITION the need for the drug of IDEALISATION.

DETECTIVE • You become your own private investigator. Their mask is slipping and because you are no longer the good supply of attention they become careless. Your INTUITION is kicking in. Their words and actions are not matching up. You know something isn’t right – but you don’t know what it is. Have you ever done this before? Probably not! Your INTUITION is showing you it hasn’t abandoned you. Normally you are a trusting and rational person, but something inside clicks and you become a super sleuth. Looking for evidence to validate the feelings rather than trusting your Gut and walking away. 


EMOTIONAL ABUSE • A pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another that results in an imbalance of power. Unlike physical abuse it goes unnoticed. The damage caused, puts you in to a state of confusion, unlike physical abuse, you have no idea it is taking place; and like Chinese water torture, it happens very slowly and turning you CRAZY, chipping away at your self-esteem and you begin to doubt your perceptions and reality.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE • The ability to recognise and regulate one’s own emotions and to demonstrate empathy and understanding of how others around them feel.

EMPATH • An EMPATH intuitively has the ability to sense the emotions of others, being sensitive to the visible as well as the invisible, intuitively picking up on body language and tone of voice. They are able to emotionally understand what is is being said as well as what is not being said. 

ENABLER • A person who attempts to pacify another by sacrificing their own or others needs in an attempt to keep the peace. Also  known as fawning.


FLYING MONKEYS • Also known as: the Entourage or Accomplices. ENABLERS are the extension of the NARCISSIST, SOCIOPATH or PSYCHOPATH, and also act as their campaign managers. FLYING MONKEYS make them feel important and special. 

FUTURE FAKING • The future you created together is manufactured during the IDEALISATION stage when they listened to your every word and watched your every move, possibly stalking your Facebook or twitter. Nothing about the FUTURE will be real, but the stories around it will be so believable. Just enough of your dreams for the future are intertwined for you to believe they are as invested in the relationship as you are, but most get completely forgotten. Or as they are all thieves they may steal your dreams for their own. 


GASLIGHTING • A covert way of distorting another person’s perception of reality; questioning their sanity and their memory. This is CRAZY-MAKING, it makes you think that you’re actually going CRAY CRAY (craziness at a whole different level). You can’t trust yourself or your perceptions of reality.You start to believe the abusers version of events and slowly they begin to take over your life. GASLIGHTING is used make you feel something is wrong with you; perhaps to make you feel you’re mentally unstable, that you’re overreacting, you’re hypersensitive or maybe you are bipolar. Gaslighting is really dangerous, creating the feelings of: Insecurity • Confusion • Brain Fog • Self-doubt • Fear • Not Good Enough • Feeling Vulnerable • Powerless.

GREY ROCK •  A technique that allows you to go NO CONTACT when you actually can’t. GREY ROCK is where you become as interesting as a grey rock. You stop being a source of supply for their drama and attention.

GHOSTING • Ghosting is a technique used during the DISCARD stage.  You might experience them withdrawing from you. They may not be as available as they once were and this pattern can repeat; each time they phone, text, or become more present in the relationship, they are hooking you back up to your drug of choice and re-confirming you are the love of their life and they go back to the IDEALISATION stage until the final DISCARD.

GOLDEN CHILD V SCAPEGOAT • This is common NARCISSISTIC families. The GOLDEN CHILD, is the best child in the eyes of the NARCISSISTIC Parent and can do no wrong.  The SCAPEGOAT on the other hand can do no right, and takes the blame for others wrong doing in the family unit. Think Ross and Monica in Friends. 



HOOVERING • The term used to describe being “sucked back in” following a DISCARD. The change in their behaviour gives you a false sense of security, believing they really do love and want you. They are the person you first met, your (MANUFACTURED) SOUL MATE.  


IDEALISATION • A technique also known as LOVE BOMBING and is the first stage in the CYCLE OF ABUSE. At the very beginning of the relationship everything you said and did was watched and noted. They sweep you off your feet with compliments, gifts, days out, meals out, your every need was catered for and this was deliberate. Text messages early in the morning ensured they were the first thing you thought about and at the end of the day you went to bed thinking about them. It allows them to manufacture a relationship where you have so much in common; share the same hopes and dreams and have the same insecurities. You are told that no one has ever understood them they way you do and you are SOUL MATES.

INTUITION • We have an ancient warning system in our bodies, referred to as a GUTFEELING or INTUITION. It is there to protect us from harm. Unfortunately during the IDEALISATION stage it gets overridden and you start to question the messages you are receiving, you are told you have got something wrong or misunderstood what they meant. You then start to question these feelings and believe them to be wrong.  ISOLATION – Is when a person becomes ISOLATED from their friends and family. They believe you are their possession and resent the time you spend with others and the importance you put on other relationships including your children. During the IDEALISATION stage of the relationship, you told anyone who would listen how amazing they were. They can’t risk you confiding in anyone, when the MASK started to drop and your INTUITION started to warn you something wasn’t right, you may have even found yourself playing DETECTIVE. They can’t risk you talking to anyone who will confirm your fears, so they make up stories about your friends and family to discredit them. You may ISOLATE yourself, following the IDEALISATION stage, finding this amazing creature who has walked in to your life, who you want to spend as much time with them as possible. Or you may ISOLATE yourself because part of you knows if you do tell people what is happening in the relationship, they will confirm your fears that this isn’t a healthy relationship and you are hooked on your drug of choice through the DEVALUATION stage and can’t give it up. At the end of the relationship you may find yourself ISOLATED because you withdrew from friends and family.


LONELINESS • LONELINESS after being in a  EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE relationship could be for many reasons, you may have been so focused on protecting your relationship rather than yourself. You might have been ISOLATED from friends and family. Perhaps it’s due to TRIANGULATION, making you feel jealous, questioning everything. Or the pain of watching someone else stepping in to your life. The feeling could be due to the TRAUMA BONDING that took place, and the fear of not knowing how to function without them. It’s a pain the emirates from your soul • you can barely function and you don’t understand who you have become and if the real you is still in there. Loneliness of not having anyone to understand, if you told them the truth they would be shocked.

LOVE BOMBING • IDEALISATION is also known as LOVE BOMBING the first stage in the CYCLE OF ABUSE. At the very beginning of the relationship everything you said and did was watched and noted. They sweep you off your feet with compliments, gifts, days out, meals out, your every need was catered for and this was deliberate. Text messages early in the morning ensured they were the first thing you thought about and at the end of the day you went to bed thinking about them. It allows them to MANUFACTURE a relationship where you have so much in common; share the same hopes and dreams and have the same insecurities. You are told that no one has ever understood them they way you do and you are SOUL MATES.

LOW SELF-ESTEEM • LOW SELF-ESTEEM is a lack of confidence and a fragile sense of self that can easily be wounded by  others.


MANIPULATION • They are MASTERS of MANIPULATION, they use words to deceive, coerce, seduce, and mislead to gain power and control.

MASKING • They play different roles for different people known as MASKS. If their MASK is slipping it could be because you are no longer the good supply of attention they have become careless and don’t feel they have to make such an effort. Or you may get a glimpse of the person they really are when they are dealing with other people. Don’t be deceived, the way they treat others is an indication of how you will be treated

MIRRORING – The tactic used in the IDEALISATION stage, It allows them to MANUFACTURE a relationship where you have so much in common; share the same hopes and dreams and have the same insecurities. You are told that no one has ever understood them they way you do and you are SOUL MATES.

MANUFACTURED EMOTIONS • These are emotions that you are not entirely familiar with: jealousy, neediness, rage, anxiety, doubt and insecurity, they are carefully manufactured. You may never have considered yourself to be a jealous person, you may have been relaxed or even described by others as laid back. These emotions are manufactured from the TRIANGULATION, GHOSTING, DEVALUATION, TRAUMA BONDING that takes place. 


NARCISSIST • A person who behaves in a selfish way, with a grandiose sense of importance, and an insatiable need for admiration, wealth, power or fame. They lack empathy and consideration toward others. NARCISSISTS feel entitled to special treatment, they are easily offended, and readily harbour grudges, however they are often very popular, until you are no longer of use to them and they DISCARD you.  They are children in an adults body, unable to take responsibility for any of their actions, and anyone who disagrees with them or their unreasonable expectations,  might be subjected to their NARCISSISTIC RAGE. The name actually comes from the Greek Mythological Character Narcissus, who rejected love from others and fell in love with his own reflection in the water. The unmet needs of the child meant they were unable to master critical emotional development. To understand the age that the TRAUMA happened, recall the age they reverted to when they perceived danger. There are seven levels of anger but NARCISSIST RAGE goes from 0-7 in an instant.

NARCISSISTIC INJURY •  Is the term used for any threat to the NARCISSIST, their distorted sense of self importance, superiority and entitlement. Anything they perceive as a threat to their ‘false-self’ is considered NARCISSISTIC INJURY. This injury is taken as serious criticism, total rejection or a threat to their very existence; the response is swift, intense and out of proportion. 

NARCISSISTIC RAGE • This is a reaction to NARCISSISTIC INJURY, which is a perceived threat to their self-esteem or self-worth. There are two types of RAGE explosive or passive-aggressive. The explosive rages are aggressive outbursts which may be verbal or physical. With the passive-aggressive rages the narcissist withdraws into sulky silent treatment as a means of punishment. This RAGE is usually the result of childhood trauma or an abandonment wound.  The unmet needs of the child meant they were unable to master critical emotional development. To understand the age that the TRAUMA happened, recall the age they reverted to when they perceived danger. There are seven levels of anger but NARCISSIST RAGE goes from 0-7 in an instant. 

NARCISSISTIC SUPPLY • Is the term use to describe the constant attention that  a NARCISSIST requires. This will be from anybody who can provide any form of attention, good or bad, they don’t care. You may find you are DISCARDED if they have a new source of SUPPLY, this can be temporary or permanently (FINAL DISCARD). NARCISSISTIC SUPPLY can come from work colleagues, other family members.  When you come out of an EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE relationship, it is important you stop providing NARCISSISTIC SUPPLY, go NO CONTACT, if you can’t go GREY ROCK. 

NO CONTACT • When you go NO CONTACT  it means cutting off all forms of communication and personal contact with a person in order to protect yourself from recurring trauma. Do not be tricked into believing you are strong enough with them, they will see it as NARCISSISTIC SUPPLY. If you can’t go NO CONTACT, go GREY ROCK. 


PSYCHOPATH • PSYCHOPATHS are unable to form emotional attachments or feel EMPATHY for others.  They are very charming, however they are manipulative and gain the trust of people easily. Although they feel no emotion, they’ve learnt to mimic them, and appear normal to most people. They are educated, have jobs and some even have families and other long term relationships and some have both. Psychopaths aren’t all Killers, but they are Con Artists, due to their calm and charismatic natures. Anything they do is  carefully planned out in detail.

PATHOLOGICAL LYING • Research has shown we all lie in one form or another, but this form of lying is more calculated and harming. You may have told a lie to protect someone’s feelings, perhaps about what they are wearing or a new hair style, PATHOLOGICAL LYING where someone lies to gain control over another person, and this is partly because relationships are games to them.  They use LYING as a MASK during the IDEALISATION stage presenting a false image of themselves. They may tell half truths or it may contain a sprinkling of truth, to cover up cheating, alcoholism, drug use and sometimes various illegal activities. They lie by evasion or withholding information; as a form of GASLIGHTING, making the other person constantly question themselves and repeatedly lie, when they say they “love you”. AND they believe these lies themselves.

PROJECTING • This a tactic used to project their unhealed parts. Most people are able to accept they might be wrong in a situation, recognise something they said may have unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings and they are able to take responsibility for their actions. But NARCISSISTS, SOCIOPATHS AND PSYCHOPATHS are unable to do this, instead they PROJECT all their broken and unhealed parts at you. The flaws in them, are what they accuse you of. They put themselves in a position of power in your life which leaves you feeling vulnerable, terrified of abandonment and rejection, which is what they actually feel. But remember you are only responsible for your healing, not theirs! 


RED FLAGS • A RED FLAG is a metaphor for something signalling a problem. RED FLAGS are used in Motor Racing to stop a race when there is danger. In the film The Railway Children, Roberta tore her red bloomers to make a RED FLAG warning the train driver of danger. They are markers for concern. You have an ancient in built warning system in your body; that GUT FEELING that you should be doing something or that something doesn’t feel right, your INTUITION. During the IDEALISATION and DEVALUING stage these get turned off as you overlook one RED FLAG after another. If you do question the behaviour you are met with insincere apologies and PROJECTION, you are the one who is insecure or have been treated badly in the past or how sorry they are and will never do it again, which of course they do as you have now forgiven them and set another challenge for them; how far can they push you before you break.

RAGING, VIOLENCE  and IMPULSIVE AGGRESSION • RAGES threaten the security or safety of another individual and violate their  personal boundaries. SEE NARCISSISTIC RAGE.


SCAPEGOATING • Singling out one child, employee or member of a group of peers for unmerited negative treatment or blame. SEE GOLDEN CHILD V SCAPEGOAT.

SEXUAL COERCION • SEXUAL COERCION is unwanted sexual activity; where you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a non-physical way. It varies from being egged on to perform a sexual act, to being forced to actually have sex. Most of us understand that rape involves penetration without consent, where it becomes a grey area is when a partner feels obliged or forced to perform a sexual act in a relationship; this is called SEXUAL COERCION. You may live in fear that, if you don’t do what this person wants there be consequences or loss of the relationship.

SHAMING • This is a technique used to divert attention away from their own bad behaviour and PROJECTING that onto you, making you believe you are the problem in order to stay in control.

SILENT TREATMENT – A passive-aggressive form of EMOTIONAL ABUSE in which displeasure, disapproval and contempt is exhibited through nonverbal gestures while maintaining verbal silence. SEE NARCISSISTIC RAGE

SOCIOPATH • SOCIOPATHS lack or has a weak conscience, outwardly, they show signs of caring, sincerity, and trustworthiness, but like the NARCISSIST AND PSYCHOPATH they are manipulative, often lie; they act recklessly or aggressively. They know their behaviour is wrong and they may feel some guilt or remorse, but that does’t stop them. Like the NARCISSIST AND PSYCHOPATH, they lack empathy, and are  prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of RAGE.

SOUL MATES • THIS REFERENCE IS TO MANUFACTURED SOUL MATES. During the IDEALISATION stage they tell you and anyone who will listen how amazing you are and ‘We are meant to be together. We are Soul Mates!’ They love the idea of being a romantic; they love the attention it gives them. They are creating a bond; the more they talk about it the more you start to believe them. You have so much in common, you are starting to map out your FAKE FUTURE together! They are the person of your dreams. You are beautiful and you are the only person (so far) that has really understood who they are and their needs. 

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME •STOCKHOLM SYNDROME is when a hostage, kidnap victim or abuse victim develops a sense of loyalty to their captor or abuser. It got its name following a bank robbery in Stockholm on 23 August 1973. The robbery went wrong, the robber Jan-Erik Olsson took four employees hostage for six days. As part of his negotiations with the police his friend Clark Olofsson was allowed to enter the bank, where the two bonded with the hostages who in turn acted to protect their captors; despite being repeatedly threatened by them. The term STOCKHOLM SYNDROME was coined by Swedish psychiatrist & criminologist Nils Bejerot who was involved in the case.

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME is when a hostage, kidnap victim or abuse victim develops a sense of loyalty to their captor or abuser. During the IDEALISATION stage a lot of care and attention is given to securing the relationship and it is tested many times, to ensure you are hooked; and that you are more focused on protecting the relationship than you are of yourself. During the IDEALISATION stage there are levels of care and love you have never experienced before, so when the DEVALUATION starts it is confusing, you wonder how this amazing person can change at the flick of a switch, when the MASK drops momentarily. COGNITIVE DISSONANCE plays a part in this this as well along with our internal survival instinct. Instead of seeing the abuse of threatening to your health you justify it to yourself and others. After all how could someone who worships the ground you walk on, your Soul Mate, who you have so much in common with and shares the same hopes and dreams be a abuser? 


TRIANGULATION – The tool of MANIPULATION, to gain power and take control. By either surrounding themselves with or talking about members of the opposite sex, friends, colleagues, former lovers (who they initially told you awful stories about their CRAZY EX), and future lovers created the illusion of popularity. This is a very specific set of pattern is used during the DEVALUATION stage and maybe a sprinkling in the IDEALISATION stage, to gain control. They use TRIANGULATION on a regular basis to giving the illusion they are in high demand. They also enjoy it when they turn people against each other, and get a bigger kick when it’s over them. They also have to keep these people apart as they cannot risk them talking to each other and discovering the truth. By manufacturing these situations they make you jealous and question their fidelity. A normal person would want to ensure you feeling secure in a relationship not creating this fear in you. And you will be the crazy one, just like Alma, Betty and Carol (insert the name) before you.

TRAUMA BONDING • We develop bonds for survival in childhood usually with our caregiver which is the foundation of attachment. When our safety is threatened in some way, we turn to our caregiver for support and protection. TRAUMA BONDING happens during the IDEALISATION AND DEVALUATION stages. The NARCISSIST, SOCIOPATH AND PSYCHOPATH are seeking power and control and create a trauma by threatening your safety. Through the IDEALISATION stage they position themselves as the caregiver. They provide attention via gifts and attention to the degree you have never experienced before, manufactured love.  They then start DEVALUING you, the slight putdowns, the TRIANGULATION. When they threaten your safety through their behaviour, you turn to them, the abuser, which leads to the bonding. You then rationalise it believing they care about you, creating further bonding; this is the reason you are  so connected to them and and when it finishes, you have a really hard time imagining life without them. 


VULTURES • As you exit an EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE relationship, you may experience extremes of emotions. You have been used to wearing the mask pretending everything is OK and your DRUG OF CHOICE has been withdrawn, you’re forced to going cold turkey. During the TRAUMA BONDING you handed over power and control and now part of you has forgotten how to function. You get the courage to share your story, you find some people disappear and others step forward. Perhaps you find there are people who want to listen to your story for hours on end, unfortunately, they may not be people who are invested in your recovery. VULTURES at first seem kind and warm, they want to fix you and listen to your problems. They give you advice but you find they need constant praise and attention. 

In the beginning you do need to talk, nothing makes sense, and it helps you understand this wasn’t your fault, you were targeted, this may take time. You may be experiencing CPTSD, once  your body has started to calm down you need to some deeper healing to ensure you don’t do this again. or if you do get targeted you know how to deal with it and get out quickly. Find a tribe, you do need help, stick to professional therapy or recovery communities and services. These people know what you’ve been through, and you’re going to find that all of them are willing to help—with no strings attached.

VICTIM • Definition – A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. synonyms: sufferer, injured party, casualty, injured person, wounded person. You would think coming out of an EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE relationship you would be the VICTIM, but the abuser claims to be the VICTIM. They lead you to believe your are abuser, during the DEVALUATION stage you started to believe you weren’t worthy. When they were TRIANGULATING you, you began to believe you weren’t good enough. You saw the RED FLAGS but they made excuses and you were so invested in the relationship you forgot about yourself. During the IDEALISATION stage they discovered your insecurities, which was of course were the same of theirs and they then used them against you. You may feel that they are to blame for the abuse. This is completely normal. You’ve been conditioned & groomed to absorb all of the problems in the relationship. Once you understand the role you played you are ready to heal.


Word salad is a form of communication which doesn’t make sense, fails to progress the discussion or where is there is an outcome. This is done in various ways, they may use a combination of CIRCULAR CONVERSATIONS, PROJECTING and BLAMING SHIFTING. This is all done in an attempt to confuse you and gain control over the conversation and you! The conversation doesn’t make sense and when you try to understand what is actually being said they have moved the conversation on in another direction. They bring up your wrongdoing as an attempt to cover up their behaviour and they play the victim. If you try to be part of the conversation (which is really one-sided so is more rhetorical) you will be told you are interrupting them, when they do allow you to speak they talk over the top of you, confusing you further. So confused by this word salad you end up giving in wondering what happened, leaving them feeling powerful!