Ambient abuse is the harrowing, insidious fear that an abuser creates for his victim. It’s an atmosphere of tension and intimidation that can be hard to detect, because it’s often done in subtle ways.
The abuser may use gaslighting to disorient and confuse the victim. Another common tactic is manipulating their target to believe that she is helpless and has no means of escape. He will often also try to isolate the victim from family and friends.
In this blog post I will discuss the signs of ambient abuse, the effects it has on victims, and how to detect and escape an abusive atmosphere.
What is ambient abuse?
Ambient abuse is a type of emotional abuse that creates an oppressive atmosphere. The victim ends up living in a constant state of heightened anxiety. The goal of ambient abuse is to control the victim by eroding their sense of self and making them feel powerless.
This is a strategy that is often used by narcissists to weave a psychological trap for their victim . Over time they chip away at the victim’s self-confidence, making them doubt their own perception of reality. The narcissist will use gaslighting, learned helplessness, and isolation to keep their victim ensnared, thus securing an ongoing source of narcissistic supply.
There are five categories of ambient abuse
1. Inducing Disorientation and Confusion
The abuser uses gaslighting to make the victim question their reality and memory. They may deny saying or doing things that the victim knows they said or did. The abuser may also accuse the victim of being crazy, paranoid, or overreacting when they express their concerns.
Creating a sense of helplessness and incompetence. The abuser makes the victim feel like they are not capable of taking care of themselves. They may do things like take away the victim’s car keys, hide their glasses, or refuse to help them with tasks that they are physically unable to do. The abuser may also withhold information that the victim needs in order to make decisions, such as not telling them when bills are due or what the consequences of certain actions will be.
3. Shared Psychosis
The abuser convinces the victim that they are both crazy and that no one will believe them if they try to tell anyone about what is happening. The abuser may also say that the victim is overreacting or that they are the one who is actually abusing the abuser.
4. Abuse of Information
The abuser uses the victim’s personal information against them. They may threaten to tell the victim’s friends and family about their secrets, or use the information to blackmail the victim. The abuser may also post embarrassing or private information about the victim online.
5. Control by Proxy
This is a form of abuse by proxy where the abuser enlists the help of other people to control the victim. They may convince the victim’s friends and family to spy on them, or to not talk to the victim. The abuser may also hire a private investigator to follow the victim or put GPS tracking on their car.
The impact of ambient abuse
Ambient abuse can have a profound effect on victims, both in the short and long term. Some common short-term effects include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and weight loss. In the long term, ambient abuse can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
Escaping from the abuse
Unfortunately, it is often extremely difficult for victims of ambient abuse to escape their abuser, because they have been psychologically destroyed. However, this does not mean that escape is impossible.
The first thing to do is to reach out to people you trust for support. You do not owe your abuser any loyalty and you most definitely should not be keeping their secrets. Find a safe place where you can talk about what is happening to you and how you are feeling. These people can provide you with a reality check and help you to see that your abuser’s behaviour is not normal. It is important to have a support system in place before you take any further steps.
The next thing to do is to start building a case against your abuser. This can be difficult if you are still living with them, but it is important to start collecting evidence of the abuse. This can include things like screenshots of text messages, journal entries, and voicemails. If you have any physical evidence of the abuse, such as bruises or broken bones, it is important to document this as well.
If you have children, it is important to get them out of the situation as well. Children are often used as a weapon by abusers, and they should not have to witness or experience the abuse. You may need to make arrangements with family or friends to take care of them, or you may need to find a safe place for them to stay.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are people who will believe you and who will help you to escape the abuse. You deserve to be safe and happy, and you deserve to live a life free from fear.
For Further Reading:
You might also want to check out the following posts about the different abuse tactics in the Narcissist’s toolbox:
- Abuse by Proxy
- Ambient Abuse
- Coercive Control
- Divide and Conquer
- Flying Monkeys
- Future Faking
- Love Bombing
- Narcissist Discard
- Narcissist Hoovering
- Narcissistic Triangulation
- Narcissistic Abuse
- Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
- Narcissistic Family Roles
- Narcissistic FOG
- Narcissistic Grooming
- Narcissistic Projection
- Narcissistic Rage
- Narcissistic Smear Campaign
- Narcissistic Word Salad
- Parental Alienation
- 7 Types of Narcissistic Abuse with Practical Examples
- The 10 Stages of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse
- 13 Warning Signs of Narcissistic Abuse: How to Deal with It and Get Help
- Flying Monkeys in the World of Narcissism: What They Are and How to Deal with Them
- Gaslighting Defined – How Can You Tell If Your Partner Is Gaslighting You?
- Why Narcissists String Along their Exes and Never Cut Them Loose
- Understanding the Cycle of Emotional Abuse – The Red Flags of a Toxic Relationship
And finally, this is my story. I was the scapegoat daughter of a narcissistic father.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me. At no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission, which helps me run this blog and keep my in-depth content free of charge for all my readers.