Andrea Harrn Counselling Services

passive aggressive behaviour and emotional abuse – 3 things to know

Its not my fault

The blame game – emotional abuse

Being in a PA relationship will feel SO emotionally abusive at times that you may consider leaving your partner. Below are three specific behaviours used as PA responses which affect the way you view yourself and your sense of reality.  These destructive behaviours eat away at who you are and what you know to be true.  You can end up in a haze of disbelief, mistrust and confusion.  Your head is a tangle of mixed up emotions and it is hard to think straight.


Passive aggressive people have deep rooted insecurity which affects their ability to take responsibility for their actions.   We all get things wrong and we all make mistakes – that is how we learn.  PA’s finds it very hard to be at fault or admit their mistakes.

Tom forgot to pay a parking ticket and the amount doubled.  His partner Alice noticed this when she happened to see a letter.  She asked him when he got the parking ticket and why he forgot to pay it.  He said it was her that got the ticket and she needs to pay.  Alice has no idea what he is talking about and tries to question again.  He refuses to discuss it and has no intention to pay it.   Then comes the abuse:

” you’re a rubbish driver”

“remind me not to rely on you for anything”

“your attitude is unbelievable”

He walks out, doesn’t come home for dinner or call that he is going to be late.  Alice is left speechless and the parking ticket sits on the hall table for another two weeks.

Tom is projecting all that belongs to him onto Alice.

Witholding Love

Tom hasn’t really come near Alice for a while.  In bed he turns the other way.  He used to make her tea in the mornings but that has stopped.  When she tries to get close he pushes her away. She feels his angry energy as if is wearing a coat of cold armour.   She doesn’t know what to do.  He talks about a guy in the office that is taking his girlfriend to New York for the weekend for her birthday.  The dog gets lots of cuddles.  Alice gets nothing.  She feels rejected and confused.  Is this her fault?  Did she cause the problem?  Her insides feel torn apart.  Every time he comes in the room she feels like she is being emotionally tortured.  The parking ticket is still sitting there.


One morning he brings her a cup of tea in bed and casually asks if the parking ticket has been paid. The hairs on her body are on end.  A lump is in her throat. She can’t think straight. Although she wants that adult conversation right now she is the cat in the spotlight, not knowing which way to turn.  Ridiculously she finds herself unable to speak.  Should she pay it?  Should she argue it?  What would you do?  This is manipulation of her emotions, her thoughts, her sense of self and her self-respect.  If she pays the ticket maybe they can go back to “normal”.

Normal for Tom and Alice are repeated instances similar to the above where Tom absolves himself of responsibility and Alice gives in.

If you are experiencing these kind of problems it is vital to get through somehow to your partner.  Talking doesn’t seem to work yet it is the only thing that will work. If your partner is not going to involve themselves in the process the problem will never go away.  In the meantime you are left recovering once again.

Self care is vitally important.  Think about ways to relax and make an appointment with yourself in the diary to ensure they take place.  Have a massage, read a good book, meet up with friends, go for a walk in nature or a swim.


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