"Verbal abuse is, in a sense, built into our culture. One-upmanship,defeating,putting down, topping,countering,manipulating,critisizing,hard selling, and intimadating are accepted as fair game by many. " Patricia Evans, The Verbally Abusive Relationship..
A series of recent personal events has led me to re-visit the topics of emotional blackmail, verbal abuse, and people who want to control you. I have studied these various issues on and off for about six years running but have kept my experiences and comments about these topics to myself for the most part. Since I am currently not working and have a bit more time on my hands I thought it might be helpful to myself and anyone else who might stumble across this blog to share on these various topics. I intend to keep my personal experiences of verbal and emotional abuse to myself because individual privacy is a primary concern and unnecessary for my purposes. Besides, most folks I have discovered generally feel very uncomfortable when you start venting about your personal problems because I suspect it may hit too close to home or most often they just don't know what to say. Fortunately I have a few brave souls in my life who don't mind my venting about this or that from time to time so I'll refrain from naming names and personal situations and just stick to the topic at hand. At this time I feel compelled to write on this topic and I hope the following is helpful to all who read this blog...I have been profoundly effected by this problem for much of my life and I suspect others have been so as well and I feel it's time to come out of the shadow and speak up. I speak both as a victim and a perpetrator of verbal abuse and my goal is to educate us all so we don't enable the abuser or become the abuser ourself. May God help us all. Verbal abuse is toxic and sticks and stones may break your bones but words will hurt you and others if you are not careful......
The following comments are either quotes or paraphases from Patricia Evans excellent book The Verbally Abusive Relationship. Since all the following ideas come from Evans I am not going put into quotes the following comments. Evans gets all the credit. I'm just the messenger.
Obstacles which stand in the way of recognizing abuse
1. Denial, fear of rejection. You fear the inevitable confrontation between you and the abuser. And, no one wants to admit they have an abusive partner, perhaps out of fear of what that may imply about your decision making.
2. Allowing oneself to be defined by the abuser. In other words, you accept the abuser's definition of your character, thoughts, feelings, and general identity.
3. Confusion due to the abuser's intermittent acts of kindness and friendlyness. Abusers are not always abusive. Thus the partner may forget the bad times until they happen again.
4.Subtle abuse. The abuser's control gradually increases and your acceptance of the abuse gradually is accepted as well.
5. The abused partner has no basis of comparison. No non-abusive relationships with others to know what a healthy give and take relationship ought to look like.
6. The abuse is hidden, out of public so others cannot validate what the abused partner is feeling and experiencing.
7. The partner may have never considered the question, Am I being abused?
If you have been verbally abused, you have been told in subtle and not so subtle ways that your perceptions of reality is wrong and that feelings or thoughts are wrong.
Verbal abuse is an issue of control, a means of power over another. This abuse may be overt or covert, constant, or periodic.
It can be difficult to recognize verbal abuse because we are socialized to either doubt our feelings or repress them, thus we are unable to recognize the abuse. Feelings, however, are essential to our being, because they are the criteria by which we determine if something is wrong or unsafe.
Since verbal abusers need to have power over their partners, they cannot accept them as equals. They may, however tell them, that they do. Why can't they accept their partners as equals? Because they would experience their equality as inferiority. They would then have to ask for what they wanted. They would be open to rejection.
Sometimes a verbal abuser may pretend to not understand or to have forgotten what their partner is talking about because they simply do not want to acknowledge that their partner has opinions or feelings seperate from their own.
There are many ways to manipulate another person, including being "friendly" only when one expects to get something from the other....and...and acting as if something has been agreed to or decided that hasn't yet been agreed to or decided.
An abuser cannot control their partner and be intimate at the same time.
Because of their need for dominance and their unwillingness to accept their partner as an equal, the abuser is compelled to negate the perceptions, experiences, values, accomplishments and plans of their partner.
Verbal abuse, like physical abuse, most often occurs behind closed doors. Secrecy is a key to the abusers power over...and...going public with abuse is generally a serious sign of escalation and or impending physical abuse.
The abuser begans to communicate disdain for the partners interests, values, needs, wants and desires.
The abuser makes no attempt at reconcilation, in fact, they most often don't even seem bothered by difficult incidents...and...they never even attempt to reach an understanding.
The abuser continually attempts to define the other partner, the nature of the relationship, in ways that are foreign to the other partner.
There are basically three types of verbal abuse, witholding, countering, and discounting....
Witholding occurs when the abuser refuses to listen, consider or even attempt to engage the other person's feelings, ideas, or predictament. A confirmed abuser may go for months or years without attempting to engage thier partners emotionally or intellectually.
Countering occurs when the abuser sees the partner as an adversary. How dare they have a different view from their own. If their partner sees things differently they feel they are losing control and dominance.Consequently, they may choose to argue, disagree, or dismiss their partners perspective and point of view. Countering is extremely destructive to a relationship because it consistently denies their partner their reality. Counters usually don't allow others to finish their thoughts. When a verbal abuser counters thier partner they do not preface their response with phrases such as, "it seems to me, I think, I feel, they simply assert that what their partner says isn't so, or no that is not the way it is"...
Discounting denies and distorts the partners actual perspection of the abuse by using such phrases as, "your'e too sensitive, Your'e jumping to conclusions, you blow everything out of proportion, you take things too seriously, or they assert you are reading things into what they say.
People who are conditioned from birth to not trust their feelings often and most likely will not recognize the irrationality and danger of verbal abuse.
The great tradegy in a verbally abusive relationship is that the partners efforts to bring about reconcilliation, mutual understanding, intimacy are neglected out of hand and assumed to be adversial by the abuser.
If you and your partner are living in a different reality than it is important to understand that you cannot explain this to them because they will see your explanation as an excuse...a defense which abusers feel need to be challenged.
Verbal abuse is rejection....Don't ever delude yourself into thinking that you should have the ability to stay serene no matter how you are treated. Anger properly expressed is not abusive or destructive. Saying stop that to an abuser is simply a matter of protecting oneself.
While you are going through internal and external changes keep structure and constants in your daily life. Keep regular hours for eating and exercise and get enough sleep.
And finally.....All change, even the most longed for, have their melancholy. for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves: we must die to one life before we can enter another......