Covert abuse, with its systematic erosion of your self-worth through continuous invalidation can train you to gradually believe all the negative messages about yourself.
Let me say this. Even if you did something that hurt or offended someone, nothing you could have done merits the lack of respect and the cruelty that covert abuse entails. Choosing to respond with manipulation is not appropriate. When someone does, that choice reflects on them, not you.
And just because there may be others who agree or contribute to that abuse (as in relational aggression) does not make it right. Numbers do not justify these actions any more than if they were done by one.
Let’s say you did commit some transgression on another. They have the right to object. They have the right to tell you how they feel and how your actions affected them. They have the right to hold you accountable. They have a right to seek a resolution or to make a decision to walk away from what they find unacceptable or to secure a remedy through appropriate channels.
They do not have the right to be punitive. They do not have the right to complain to everyone but you. They do not have the right to put you down or spread rumors or assault your reputation. They do not have the right to twist facts, fabricate stories or blatantly lie, selectively or through omission. They do not have the right to play mind games with you, sabotage you or in any way assault you, verbally, emotionally or psychologically.
They do not have the right to invalidate you in such a way that you slowly begin to think you are going insane.
These things are cruel and there are no good reasons for cruelty. There are, however, excuses.
There may be triggers for the abuser, but triggers are not reasons. Triggers are personal. They are about the one triggered, not the perceived catalyst for it.
Sometimes, just who you are can trigger feelings of jealously in a person. You may find yourself on the receiving end of covert abuse for your positive outlook, the things that make you unique, your intelligence or creativity or perspective on life.
Perhaps you are targeted because of something you have — a job, a coveted partner or good friends or a loving family. It isn’t a crime to be fortunate or different or exceptional in whatever way others may perceive you to be. These are not punishable offenses. But a covert abuser may see them as such and that “seeing” reflects on them, not you.
And people laugh when I tell them women are still invisible in this world.