Our expert says:
Thank you very much for your thoughtful and helpful comments.
As I discovered in my studies of torture ( so as better to be able to help victims ) no one form of abuse or torture is "worse" than any other - it depends on the specific fears and vulnerabilities of the individual, and the expert torturer or abuser recognizes what will be worst for you. In the great Orwell book 1984, there was a special room that all prisoners feared, which contained - whatever you feared most.
But another central and vitally important aspect of much psychological abuse, especially the "silent treatment" os that the abuser only actually has the power you choose to give them. Only if you choose to care about their opinion, their responses, does their withholding of these, bother you. If one can treat their silence as like that marvellous moment when the drills and jack-hammers the road-builders have been using outside your window, tormenting you with their noise, stops for the day ; the abuser has lost that element of power. Only if you decide you MUST get a response from them, does the absence of response bother you.
And the abuser, as Liza points out, WANTS your response of pain and caring - if he / she doesn't get that, he either stops or tries a different approach.
There are various methods of psychological self-defence which can be really effective, but sadly are rarely made available to the victims.
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