Being on the other side of emotional abuse is a painful and devastating place to be. Falling into an emotional abuser’s trap can change the way you feel about yourself and how you perceive life. But what is an emotional abuser’s trap? And how does it work?
Psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists are pros when it comes to manipulating and tricking people into doing their bidding. They know exactly how to behave when it comes to making you fall into their trap; it’s really no surprise why they are known to be dangerous and toxic.
Such individuals tend to go for people who are empaths, or those people who have codependent tendencies. This is because this gives them the power to manipulate and control them any way they want, which includes exploiting their insecurities, compassion, and trust.
Emotional abuse doesn’t just pop up on you, it’s a gradual process that creeps in slowly with its poisonous nature, and eats you up from the inside. And the sad part is, you don’t even realize it is happening until it’s too late. It’s dehumanizing, to say the least.
In order to understand an emotional abuser’s trap, you need to know the signs and steps of it. This way you will be able to recognize their games and tricks and protect yourself from them.
Related: Covert Verbal Abuse: Passive Aggressive Behavior That Aims to Control You
7 Stages Of An Emotional Abuser’s Trap
1. The ‘Idealization’ phase starts, where they pamper the hell out of you.
The idealization stage is the very first stage of their trap. This is the stage where they shower love, attention, special treatment, and flattery on you. They will make you feel like you are the center of their Universe and the apple of their eye, and they just can’t imagine their lives without you.
Emotional abusers do all this, so that they can create the perfect and idealized image in front of you, which will make you fall head over heels in love with them, and that too very fast. This stage is all about winning your trust and proving themselves to be the most perfect person to walk on the Earth.
This stage is also known as the love-bombing stage and is all about leading you on and making you think that you have finally found ‘The One’.
2. You start to see them in a positive light only; they are absolutely perfect in your eyes.
Now, after all their pampering, you are finally in their clutches. You start to see them as the most perfect person you have ever known in your life; someone who ‘understands’ you, ‘loves’ you, and is everything you have been looking for, for all these years.
They are absolutely flawless in your eyes and the ideal partner for you. You feel lucky to have them in your life, and you can’t wait to tell the world, how fortunate you are to have met them. Slowly and steadily, you start getting attached to them, and before you know it, you have become mentally and emotionally dependent.
This stage is all about baiting you into the trap and then locking you in it for good. And this is done by making you emotionally dependent on them by gaining your trust and respect. At this point, you’ve fallen in love with them completely and trust them blindly.
Related: Emotional Abuse Assessment
3. Now, they slowly start to pull away from you.
Once you are finally in the emotional abuser’s trap, and you trust them 100%, they gradually start to pull away from you. And this pulling away happens very stealthily, so much so that you don’t even realize that it’s happening. Be it narcissistic abuse or emotional abuse, this stage is bound to happen.
Your intuition will be hinting at this to you, but you dismiss it as anxiety and overthinking. You start to notice that their calls and texts have reduced, they ignore your attempts at getting in touch with them, they seem distant and uninterested, and you start feeling like a burden on them.
That ‘unconditional love’ and ‘passion’ dwindles away, leaving you to think about what is going wrong, or what could you have done wrong. You hold yourself responsible for this change, and try your best to bring those happy days back.
You keep on giving them second chances, forgive them, and make all sorts of excuses for them. Whatever they need, you give it to them without any complaints and questions (understanding, space, love, support, etc.). You keep convincing yourself that they genuinely love you, and this is just a rough patch you both are going through.
4. You keep telling yourself that the relationship has a future.
Once you realize that it’s not just a rough patch you are going through, your relationship is actually going down the drain, you constantly look for ways to repair it. It becomes hard for you to accept that they might not be ‘The One’. You ignore your needs and keep on sacrificing and compromising your happiness just to make sure that they are happy.
And this is exactly what they want you to do. When you’re in an emotional abuser’s trap, you don’t know what the truth is, rather you refuse to see what their real truth is. They will make you feel like everything’s your fault, and that you are the reason why the relationship is going downhill; in other words, you’re not good enough for them anymore.
5. The changes in your relationship start to break your heart and spirit, bit by bit.
The abuse starts to become more prominent, and the mistreatment is not subtle anymore. They are insensitive, disrespectful, and mean to you, and they don’t care how it makes you feel. They insult you and put you down for having the bare minimum expectations from them, they call you selfish if you try to talk to them about your feelings, and last but not the least, they resort to name-calling.
They accuse you to be over-sensitive, psychotic, crazy, and problematic. Blame games, excessive criticism, and gaslighting becomes a regular part of your life. If you try to call them out on their negative actions, they resort to denial and gaslighting and hold you responsible for everything that’s wrong with the relationship.
No matter how desperately you try to save the relationship, you are always met with sarcasm, insults, and abuse. Your abuser disregards all your feelings, and your begging and crying do nothing to their cold, icy heart. You refuse to accept that the person you love is treating you like this and that you deserve better.
You refuse to give up on them and the relationship, and you keep on unknowingly breaking your heart and spirit in the process. The emotional abuser’s trap has finally broken you.
Related: Are You In An Abusive Relationship And Don’t Even Know It? 4 Identifying Signs
6. Gradually, you start seeing the truth and start to put the pieces together.
Slowly, you start to see the kind of relationship you have with them. You gradually realize what kind of person they are, and what they have been doing all this time. You discover that the ‘love of your life’ has been exploiting you and has been playing with your emotions for so many days, and blaming you for everything.
They have been manipulating the truth along with you and making you believe that it’s all your fault; they wanted to portray you as the crazy one, and themselves as the saintly victim. Now that you finally realize that it was all a dirty game for them, you feel rage and anger within you.
And not just anger, you feel insulted, humiliated and heartbroken for being treated like this by the very person who you loved so much. But the good thing is that you finally see the emotional abuser’s trap for what it truly is.
7. Unfortunately, nobody believes you and the horrible things you went through.
When you got into a relationship with your abuser, the people who supported you and were excited for you, those same people are now discrediting your experience. They don’t believe what you went through and make you feel like you are the one who made a mistake.
To them, your experiences are ‘not a big deal’, and you are just ‘playing the victim’. To make matters worse, they accuse you of being resentful, bitter, and angry because you can’t handle your breakup. They take your abuser’s side because your abuser has always presented themselves as perfect, and there’s no way they can ever treat you badly.
Their irresistible charm and treachery have turned your own people against you, and now all you are left with are the broken pieces of your heart and soul, which only you have to put back together, without any love or support whatsoever.
In order to move on from all the pain and disrespect, you need to cut off all contact with your emotional abuser. Now that you know the characteristics of an emotional abuser, you need to make sure that you never make the mistake of falling into an emotional abuser’s trap again.
Related: How Abusers Trap You Into Staying In Abusive Relationships With Them
Remove them from your life forever, and focus on rebuilding your trust bit by bit, one day at a time. Give them no access to your life, and if needed, even block them from your social media. Focus on yourself, and focus on your healing.
You are a remarkably strong person, and you have the power and strength to move on from this. Always remember these emotional abuser traits and how the emotional abuser’s trap works, so that nobody else can ever play with your heart and feelings again.
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