Verbal Abuse - The Destructive Force
Verbal abuse is one destructive pattern of domestic violence. Verbal abuse is about power and control, just like physical violence. All physically battering relationships are† preceded by verbal violence.† Although many believe that physical abuse is far away, in the extreme, only for monsters and bullies, verbal abuse is all around us. Putting down, shouting, manipulating, topping, countering, criticizing and discounting are everywhere, accepted by many as the rules of winning. In relationships winning isnít the goal, so these techniques undermine the relationship and the partner. Generally abusers deny their verbal abuse and only the partner hears it.
Bruises and lacerations are easy to recognize, verbal abuse is not. Verbal abuse is about experience. We know that the tone or the emphasis on a word can change the meaning of a sentence. Experiencing that tone or emphasis makes all the difference.
How do we recognize verbal abuse? What does it feel like? A partner may feel thrown of balance, lost, not knowing where to turn, feeling confused or disoriented. The partner assumed goodwill, but† ill will seems prevalent. Sometimes a partner is told that their feelings are wrong and their perceptions are wrong. The seeds of doubt are there, doubt for the victimís experience and for the inner self.
Verbal abuse is like a path on grass. Day after day people walk across the same path over established turf . It takes more than one day. One person walking that same path over and over and the path becomes worn. A rut forms and soon the soil is hard like concrete and nothing grows there. Any sprig is stomped away. So it is with verbal abuse. Feeling powerless to stop it, but trying anyway, a victim fights back, yells back, withdraws, accommodates, but loses the ability to grow and flourish. What does a partner do?
First, the partner must understand what is believed about the abuse. Partners believe that they must be unable to express themselves well or to explain the meanings of their statements, or the abuser would not get so angry. Partners also believe that if they are loving and caring, the abuser will be also. And most important, partners believe that if the abuser knew how the put-downs and sarcasm hurt, they would stop the abuse. Here the importance of understanding the dynamics may help. Verbal abuse is about power. An abuser sees the partnerís hurt as a success and throwing the partner off balance as a means of taking back control. Understand that verbal abuse is different from conflict. To resolve a conflict, each person discusses wants and needs to mutually seek a creative solution. In an abusive relationship, one partner says or does whatever is necessary to have their way.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Steps to take against verbal abuse:
*Get professional counseling support and make sure that your therapist knows and
††† understands about verbal abuse. Remember abuse is not about how you relate.†††††††
††† It is about one partner hurting and dominating the other. Separate counseling is best at†††††
††† first. If you fear or have experienced physical abuse, tell the counselor.
*Start setting limits and boundaries.
*Stay in the present, dwelling neither in the past or about your concerns for the future.
*Be aware that you can leave any situation.
*Ask for changes that you want in your relationship.
*Acknowledge the pain in the abusive relationship. Sadness and anger overwhelm you†
† when you realize the partner that you love is hostile toward you.†