Character Development,  Craft

Nine More Ways To Write An Emotionally Abusive Villain

Last Wednesday this blog features nine ways to write an emotionally abusive villain! This week we have NINE MORE WAYS! 

It’s really a terrible thing to say that emotionally abusive people have so many evil tricks up their sleeves, but they do. Some of us know this from experience.

As was mentioned last week, emotionally abusive villains like to have power and control over everyone around them. They demonstrate this in the way that they speak and act. They often are insecure and feel better about themselves when they can put others “in their place”. 

If you can stomach it, here are more examples of what you can do if you want to write an emotionally abusive villain. 

Mocks or makes fun of you, even in little things. An abuser often uses every opportunity to tease you or point out your flaws. “Oh, your toes have always been so fat!” Or, “are you going to spill the soda this time like you did last time?” Your emotionally abusive villain should think that this is what a good sense of humor is and accuse the protagonist of not having one.

Makes a big fuss over little favors. Abusers will never want you to forget that it was they that had the bus fare, or they were the ones that bought lunch that day, or if it weren’t for them we wouldn’t have umbrellas! This is all they’ve got, so they milk it for all it’s worth. Your emotionally abusive villain should remind everyone around them how they saved the day! THEY ARE THE HEROES!

Claims that they will “always be there for you” but then balks when you do need them. Abusers must be seen as the hero, even though they rarely give selflessly. Your emotionally abusive villain should find plenty of excuses not to actually help out others when they have a need, but if there is an audience  . . .

Has a manipulative attachment to gifts. They are used as a reminder later, or they are to remind you that they owe you, or they are to help you get over your anger, or they are to used to control you. Villains like this may demand that their gifts be displayed prominently. They may keep score of who gave you what so that they can be ahead and “win.” Your emotionally abusive villain should never give a gift that isn’t used for an ulterior motive.

Disrespects your belongings, such as selling things without asking. They may assume that they can take something that was once a gift from them to you. They may treat an item of yours carelessly. Your emotionally abusive villain should never respect the property of others.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Denies promises that they kept. Abusers have no trouble making promises because it makes them look good, but they have a lot of trouble with inconvenience. Don’t trust them to keep their word. Your emotionally abusive villain should deny everything if someone reminds them of promises they’ve made.

Claims that you make things up. Abusers often claim that your imagination can’t be trusted. An abuser may also question your reality. This is gaslighting and consistent, long term behavior like this can have brutal effects on a victim’s emotional state. This is one of the most insidious forms of emotional abuse and victims have been known to take their own lives simply because they don’t trust their own reality.

Withholds money or information because they like having the power. Abusers are incredibly stingy and will only give if they think that it is in their best interest. They will not give because it is the right thing to do. They give because they want power, regardless of what it is they are giving. Your emotionally abusive villain should work very hard to remain secretive and stingy.

Pits you against other people around you. Abusers deliberately seek out the weak and easy to manipulate. If they have an enemy, and they always have an enemy, they will orchestrate drama on purpose just to cause trouble.  Your emotionally abusive villain should always be looking for an empath to take advantage of.

Your antagonist needs more than the biggest weaponry, they need an arsenal of hateful words and actions. Got more examples? Put them in the comments! 

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.