Monday, July 31, 2006

Mental Abuse

When I was at university, we used to live in five-person, single-sex flats. We each had our own room and we shared a bathroom and a kitchen in which we each had our own cupboard. One student would be responsible for paying the bills, and would have to claim the money back from the others.

A female friend of mine told me about an incident which had happened to her best friend. She had lived in a flat which the other four girls had ganged up on her. Their bullying of her was concerted and highly organised, but never physical. She came home one day after class to find the flat empty, but everything in her food cupboard had been taken out and arranged in a circle on the kitchen floor. There was an agreement among the other girls that when everyone was in the flat, whenever you walked past her bedroom door, you would kick it. She must have been sitting in there waiting for the next blow. It happened that she was the one responsible for paying the bills. Non-payment would have meant censure from the University authorities, including failure to graduate. So the others let her pay the bills and then refused to contribute their share.

This kind of treatment causes extreme psychological stress, and is bound to have negative consequences for the victim’s academic performance. In extreme cases it could lead to mental breakdown, self-harm or suicide attempts, and all without a single blow being struck. The girl in the story managed to get a transfer to another flat eventually, but she still had to endure weeks of mental and emotional abuse, and then a period of psychological counselling

One of the key features of bullying is that the victim will not complain, but will suffer in silence. One of the key features of female passive aggressive bullying is deniability; being able to distance oneself from it afterwards. If that girl had complained to the University authorities, and an officer had visited the flat, what would have happened? As long as they all back-up each others’ stories, who is to know any different? “I don’t know what she is talking about. We all liked her. She must be imagining it”. This is how girls behave when they want to get nasty.

This kind of mental abuse is very much more common than people suspect. By its very nature, a lot of it will tend to pass undetected.

My sister-in-law had an affair for over a year. She used to have sex with her lover in the marriage bed while my brother was out at work. He suspected that something was going on, but if he mentioned it to her, she would not only deny it, but act offended. She would tell him that he had a dirty mind, that he was a pervert. She would tell him he was paranoid until she had him convinced that he was losing his sanity. Of course his instincts were correct. Eventually, she moved in with her lover and took the children with her. As if her infidelity was not bad enough, the part that really gets me is that she forced him to start questioning his own mental health in order to cover her tracks.

I have come to believe that a lot of mental illness is created in this way, and it is mainly women who are doing it.

Further reading

Mental Abuse

Female Manipulation


jw said...

Mental / Emotional abuse can be more harmful than physical abuse. It leaves tracks that may be extremely hard to remove ... at least the bruises of physical abuse go away.

You also point out an area of unfairness in the law. A woman cannot be held responsible for a child born as the result of her husband's cheating: A man is responsible under law for a child born as the result of his wife's cheating.

John Doe said...

You may be interested to read this.