Verbal and physical abuse are easy to recognize, but there is another, more covert form of abuse that can be just as emotionally damaging. Passive aggressive behavior often seems normal and nice on the surface, but beneath it lays repressed anger and resentment directed at a partner who may not be strong enough to withstand this form of abuse.
Experts believe passive aggressive behavior comes from a person’s inability to express anger in healthy, productive ways. This person may be cut off from authentic feelings and often does not realize they are full of resentment. They tend to have low self-esteem and a deep, underlying sense of shame.
Passive aggressive people tend to have unrealistic expectations about the way their friends and family should interact with them. It is hard for them to accept when others do not behave the way they want or expect them to. They project their own unhappiness onto their victim, but they are astounded when that person responds accordingly with anger.
Signs of Passive Aggression
Passive aggressive behavior comes in many different forms:
- Denial: Refusing to take responsibility for their actions and minimizing the hurt it causes
- Dependency: Lack of confidence keeps them from asserting themselves and makes them overly dependent on loved ones
- Lateness: Chronic lateness is their way of rebelling against another’s expectations
- Negativity: Feeling misunderstood or overlooked, this person can often be bitter or sulky
- Playing the victim: They tend to blame others for their misfortune or bad luck
- Withholding: They hold the upper hand in the relationship by refusing to give affection, communication, financial support, or intimacy
Protecting Yourself from Passive Aggression
Passive aggression can be very difficult to detect because of its subtlety, but if your partner displays more than a few of these behaviors on a regular basis, you may be a victim of this form of abuse. The first step toward protecting yourself is to not react. Your anger fuels this cycle and enables their victim mentality.
Instead, respond to passive aggression with assertiveness. Without directly blaming you or your partner, call out the problems you see in the relationship and talk about how you both, as a couple, can fix them. Allowing your partner to suggest solutions empowers them and encourages healthy communication.
Mendham Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Fight for Victims of Emotional and Physical Abuse
Abuse is not always physical. Withholding affection, communication, and financial support are some passive aggressive forms of abuse. If you are considering divorcing an abusive spouse, it is important to work with a Mendham divorce lawyer at Lyons & Associates, P.C. who is experienced in challenging cases. Our team of family law attorneys aggressively protect your interests while also helping you transition into your new life after divorce. Call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online for a free initial consultation. Located in Somerville, New Jersey, we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Somerset County, Morris County, and Union County.