73: Top Terms in Abuse Recovery

2020 was a year of mass confusion for us all.

But particularly so for those of us in the abuse recovery space.

I don’t know about you, but I kept hearing so many new phrases that I didn’t understand. Gaslighting, discarding, love bombing, flying monkeys. What on earth?!

The more I dug into my own journey and working with clients, the more these terms not only made sense, but they brought so much relief.

Knowledge is power. It’s the thing that plants the seed of healing in your brain. For many of us, we don’t fully understand the relationship we were in let alone our brain’s response to it.

The more I learned, the more my responses made sense. The more I was able to understand, the less guilt and confusion I felt. I saw that I wasn’t alone and there was a whole community out there of people who have experienced what I did and that was so empowering.

This is by no means an extensive list, but I wanted to share the ones that I heard most often. With each word, I’ll include a definition and example.

Alright, let’s go.

Prefer to watch? Here’s the video!


Definition: manipulating someone into believing the reality they see isn’t the real reality; making someone doubt themselves

Example: The abuser will say things like “I never did that” when you clearly remember that they did, or even just saw it. This also includes things like “You’re crazy” and “dude you’re so lucky I put up with you.”


Definition: They’re no longer getting what they need out of you, so they “throw you away” and go after something that provides what they want.

Example: You no longer provide what the abuser wants. This could be for a variety of reasons, but it’s basically when they get you out of their life and they get new supply.

Love Bombing

Definition: At the beginning of the relationship, very intense emotions. Generally say I love you very early, shower you with compliments and gifts. It’s very intense very fast. Hooks you in.

Example: When you go out and he says he loves you after just a few days. It can also look like buying you flowers and always wanting to be with you. It feels almost too good to be true.


Definition: Metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners that describes an abuse victim trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship and later being “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior. (louislaves-webb.com)

Example: After you finally leave, they reach out to you constantly. They throw apologies at you and tell you everything you want to hear. They do just enough to pull you back to them.

Honeymoon Moments

Definition: The “good moments” that happen in abusive relationships; the reasons that we stay.

Example: Even though the relationship is toxic, whether the abuse is physical or not, you stay for the ‘good’ things. They tell you they love you, they cuddle with you, take you out to dinner. Whatever it may be, it’s the reason you get hooked.


Definition: They put you down and cause you to doubt your own worth. They attack your confidence and sense of self worth in order to pull you in and force you to rely on them.

Example: It starts with little digs at your self worth and confidence. They’ll call you stupid and play it off as a joke. If you’re feeling yourself, they tell you that you’re not as hot as you used to be. This is to get you to question yourself and rely on them.


Definition: hiding one’s true colors or emotions behind a mask of happiness and normalcy. Whether the survivor is masking their true emotions or the abuser is masking their true intentions. 

Example: For the abuser – how they act in public versus in private. When you’re out with friends they act sweet and kind but when you get in the car the mask comes off.
For the victim – pretending that you’re ok when you’re not. You wear a smile but when no one is looking the mask comes off.


Definition: The act of attributing one’s own feelings or traits to another person and believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits. (louislaves-webb.com)

Example: The abuser will accuse you of cheating even though you’ve done nothing to make him think you have. This is because they’ve done it so they put the guilt on you.

Flying Monkeys

Definition: the accomplices to the abuser; hype them up and publicly put the survivor down. Under the ‘spell’ of the abuser.

Example: The friends of your abuser will comment on the abuser’s pictures on social media commending them for how much of a saint they are for putting up with you. They can also assist in the smear campaign.

Smear Campaign

Definition: After you break up with them, they will tell everyone that they’re the victim and put you down. 

Example: When the abuser tears down your reputation. They will spread rumors and do whatever necessary to isolate you and make you look bad. This is to maintain control and keep you under their thumb.

Understanding these terms and being able to recognize them as soon as they come up can save you so much heartache and pain. The biggest thing to remember here is to trust your gut. If you feel like you’re experiencing this but your brain says “well, maybe I’m making it up…” you’re not. Pay attention to that feeling and get out as soon as you can.

If you’ve experienced this in the past and you’re ready to make your recovery a priority, check out the Worthy of Recovery printable journal. This 30 day journal guides you through daily recovery in only 15 minutes a day. It has all of the pieces needed to propel you forward on your journey. With over 45 printable affirmation cards and a mini journaling course to teach you how to journal efficiently, there’s no excuses to not make yourself a priority.

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