You may have had a parent who berated you constantly. I did. And, then, there was a partner who did the same. It seemed somehow normal.
Verbal abuse is far more common than anyone would like to think. And, when it’s happening to you, even though it used to hurt more, you somehow get used to it.
It’s sneaky. It usually starts small. You ignore it. You excuse it. You rationalize it. And, then it happens again…and again.
You say “Ouch!” You’re told by your abuser—yes, that’s what s/he is—that you have no sense of humor, or that your skin is too thin. See how quickly the blame comes back to you!
You don’t want to believe it at first. “This person who says s/he loves me wouldn’t really talk to me like that, right?” Give your head a shake. It’s real. And, it IS happening to you
Being verbally abusive is a way for the abuser to feel they have a sense of power over you. They have control. They can do what they want.
They pride themselves on their power over you. Watch for the smirk when they deliver their next diatribe. It’s usually there.
This form of violence—which it is—has been well-defined by the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
“Abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. These are behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. Abuse includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of abuse can be going on at any one time.”
Wow! You cannot avoid recognizing what’s going on after reading that, can you?
I know way too much about this because my own mother was both verbally and emotionally abusive.
I didn’t have a name for it, of course, but I remember how it felt: constant put-downs, dismissing my accomplishments while vicariously living through them, ignoring my needs, invalidating my feelings, and demanding to be obeyed.
It just felt really bad, and I hated the way she found daily things—hourly things—to criticize. And, I was a great kid, an “A” student, a talented musician. But, to make herself feel better, she had to make me feel worse. Sick!
One of her “best” was how often she told me she had never wanted kids. No wonder I’m an only child!
So, even though it felt all wrong, as a child I was powerless to define another way of thinking about myself other than through the lens of opinions my mother served up daily.
Where was my father in all this? He was away from the home as often as possible. He couldn’t stand her, either. He was away earning a living, or living in the pool hall where women were not allowed to enter.
That spawned another example of abuse in my young life. My father often wouldn’t come home for dinner on time, and my mother would drive to the pool room and force me to go in and get him.
Do you see that that’s abuse? I hope so.
It’s just wasn’t appropriate on any level!
None of us who experience verbal and emotional abuse are alone, although most of us feel extremely alone.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s December 17th, 2010 edition of their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report disclosed that:
“About a quarter of the more than 26,000 adults surveyed reported experiencing verbal abuse as children, nearly 15% had been physical abused, and more than 12%—more than one in 10—had been sexually abused as a child … Almost one in five respondents (19.4%) had lived as a child with someone who was depressed, mentally ill, or suicidal.”
Because the abuse becomes horribly “normal” to those who experience it, they often don’t see it as it is happening.
Is it happening to you? Is your partner, parent, or progeny verbally abusing you?
You may well see it in others, but not in yourself. You may not actually get in touch with what has happened to you (if you ever do) until you find yourself trying to figure out why it is you can’t find love, or until you find yourself stuck in (yet another) relationship that just isn’t working.
When the pain and loneliness—yes, you can feel terribly lonely even when you are in a relationship—become too much, and when you decide to put a stop to it, care enough about yourself to get some professional help.
That’s when you discover that what you absorbed so early in your life–unintentionally and definitely without your permission–has been silently sabotaging your relationships. Especially the one you have with yourself!
Here are the BIG bonuses of this painful discovery:
You can heal.
You can stop feeling there is something wrong with you.
You can stop blaming yourself.
You can stop blaming your partner.
You can find your own personal power.
You can release yourself from the shackles of your past—and finally feel free.
You can stop the abuse.
Imagine the new lease on life these discoveries would give you!
Whether happening at home behind closed doors, or in front of friends, family and the rest of the world, verbal abuse takes everyone down. It has a definitive negative effect on everyone involved: you, the abuser, children who hear it, people who observe it. And, silence about it makes it worse!
Verbal abuse keeps you from experiencing love, respect, and safety in relationships. And, you deserve those things!
It’s too high a price to pay … and, yet you will keep on paying until you see it, name it, and eradicate it from your daily life.
YOU deserve to be free. Get help and free yourself!