What do you think of when the term "emotional abuse" is uttered? Do you picture screaming immediately? Maybe a few demeaning jabs that are sarcastic and cruel?
I picture the silent treatment first.
Don't get me wrong, I am familiar with the effects of excess criticism from my own upbringing. I also know what it's like to have your reality undercut, to have your perceptions gas lit, and to be openly mocked or punished for crying, But terrible as those overt signs of disregard feel, the silent treatment was by far the most painful weapon my parents (particularly my mother) used growing up.
It would come out of nowhere, and I never knew how long it would stretch. Sometimes it was a day, other times a week or more. And then, each time I tried to resolve the issue by asking what I'd done, I'd get this response: "If you don't know what you've done wrong, I'm certainly not going to tell you."
Because as a child I was expected to read minds.
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