Emotional abuse works like this:
You are screamed at, and then, not knowing any better, you stand up for yourself.
You think this is a way of being strong. You think this is a defense tactic. But this only provokes more screaming. Going silent provokes more screaming too, but usually, it keeps the threats to the minimum. It keeps it just at screaming and not: a shove down the stairs, or order to pack your stuff and get out.
So you learn how to go silent. How to play dead. How to cry without making a noise. How to swallow noise. How to wipe your cheeks, get out of the car, and go about your day.
And when the screaming has stopped, when the two of you are in the car or out to dinner and they’re all smiles, all asking for favors, all questions, you are still hurt and annoyed and want to ask them, how? How can you speak to me like that? How can you pretend you did not say those things? How can you have forgotten?
But you’ve learned. So you listen to, “Can I borrow your key’s and “how were your day’s and you play dead. You swallow the noise. And sometimes it doesn’t matter who is speaking to you, it doesn’t matter if they’re a friend, it doesn’t matter if their criticism is constructive, it doesn’t matter. You’ve learned. Any sort of speaking, any raising of the voice, any insult and you play dead.”
— Good Girl, Lora Mathis