There are levels to abuse, far beyond the typical action/reaction narrative. Abuse doesn’t just happen you are groomed for it.
Here are some steps I’ve noticed when in retrospect.
1- In the beginning they find out your wants and needs to mold themselves into exactly what you are looking for. They seemingly become the perfect partner.
2- They claim to want to know everything about you. But they are only collecting data and analyzing weaknesses to later use against you and as reasoning for why they will treat you like shit.
3-The next step is to keep you confused. (This part is the worst) You’ll notice over a period of time that you’ll begin to question everything you felt you once knew. They will create fires everywhere you turn, crisis after crisis to keep you engaged. You lose a sense of self and reality only to become a player in theirs. It’s like brainwashing.
4-They will convince you that they are the only one who understands you, or loves you completely. Even make up stories about those who really love you that validate the narrative “you & me against the world”
5- Following confusion and isolation they will coheres or manipulate you into outlandish acts which they claim is the only way to become closest to them, or a way to set you apart.
6- This is the breaking process where they solicit self doubt. Minimize your efforts and deflect when you bring your feelings about it to their attention. They will paint a picture of you for you and others of just how horrible you are, and you’ll spend the rest the relationship trying to prove them wrong which you could never do because what their convincing you of doesn’t exist. This is also the process by which the abuse and justification for any violation occurs.
The saddest part is that the victim will still defend their abuser which is due to the trauma bond. It’s like you become addicted to the highs and lows, the reward and punishment system the abuser created for you. You know nothing outside of this world they’ve created for you and don’t even believe you deserve anything more.