Abuse in relationships does not always look like hitting or name-calling. Frequently, abuse is much more subtle than that, and can slowly wedge a divide between couples, digging deeper into the victim day by day. This is what is called “Covert Emotional Abuse (CEA)” and “Dismissing” is one of the tactics covert abusers use to avoid authentic connections and exert control over victims. Oftentimes, neither the one who is harmed through covert abuse nor the one who causes the harm understands how damaging the behavior is. That’s why The M3ND Project educates on CEA. The clarity that education brings to all those impacted by covert abuse allows them to name the harmful behaviors and to take their first steps toward recovery and healing, if they choose to do so.
As its name implies, Dismissing occurs when a partner utterly disregards the others’ feelings, fears, needs, wants and desires as if the other partner is not even there. This can happen in any kind of relationship, such as between parents and children, or between friends. Similar to Gaslighting, Dismissing communicates to the victim that they are not seen, valued, or worthy of consideration. In time, after a victim is subjected to Dismissing over and over again, they become numb to their own self-worth and begin to shut down, believing their ideas, wants, needs and feelings are invalid. A healthy partner would not want this to happen and would instead work toward understanding and listening to their spouse’s feelings and requests. An abusive partner who continually perpetuates this behavior is causing great harm to the person they are called to love.
These types of scenarios over time can have catastrophic effects on a relationship. When Dismissing is used regularly, a victim begins to feel unsafe emotionally with their partner, often in their own home. They begin to safeguard their hearts from their intimate partner because they learn that their own experiences, feelings, wants and needs won’t be valued or protected by their partner. In doing this, victims begin to stuff these things down deep, and they lose their identity and ability to recognize their own value.
Learning about CEA behaviors empowers you with clarity to understand the dynamics of your relationship better. If you feel that this blog describes abuse you have been facing, we want you to know that you are worthy of being heard and valued in a relationship, and that healing from emotional abuse is possible. Continue to follow along with us to become stronger in your awareness of the difficult behaviors affecting your relationship, as well as your resolve to do something about it. We are here to bring light to your journey and to show you that you are not crazy and you are not alone.
If you have an experience with dismissive behaviors in your relationship, please feel free to write to us and share with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.