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Verbal abuse IS abuse and is just as damaging as physical abuse. It may even be worse.
Verbal and emotional abuse leave no visible scars but wounds deeply, profoundly and, sometimes, permanently.
In physical abuse one's body is beaten, hurt; in verbal abuse, one's soul is beaten and hurt.
An abuser uses verbal and emotional abuse intentionally to maintain control and power over a person while presenting and entirely different person to the rest of the world. Most verbal abuse happens in private, showing that the abuser is completely aware that he is choosing this behavior.
Tactics are used to keep the victim off balance and unable to get free. Abusers will manipulate by confusing the victim about their feelings and perceptions, isolating them from friends and family so that they cannot see the truth, creating pain, mental anguish and confusion to keep them off balance and then rescuing them occasionally.
He will give love and warmth also as a control tactic, giving a false hope that keeps the victim engaged in relationship with him and thinking that he will change if she just keeps trying. These "honeymoon" periods never last as they are only another tactic of control.
Victims of verbal and emotional abuse comes from all walks of life, levels of education, intellect and financial status. Well educated, intelligent, professional women have been taken in by this abuse as often as those of little education or social standing. There is no stereotypical victim.
But there is a commonality.
All victims get caught up in trying to figure out what THEY need to do differently to change the relationship. They all believe that if they can change themselves or their behavior then their abusers wil finally understand and stop abusing them. The problem is this will never work because they are not the problem.
"Maybe if I do this, don't do that, change this, don't change that, say this don't say that, etc, he will be nice to me." Victims walk on eggshells trying to figure out how not to be abused. Because the abuser constantly tells them it is their fault he acts this way rather then admit it is his choice, the victim is left to figure our what she is doing "wrong."
One day something she does will be quite acceptable the next it is a huge offense. One day he will be nice to her, loving, affectionate, warm and the next vicious, mean, and withdrawing. This can even change within minutes. It leaves the victim stunned, wondering what she did wrong -
But, the abuser knows exactly what he is doing -
1. He seems irritated or angry with you several times a week. When you ask why he's mad, he either denies it or tells you it's in some way your fault.
2. When you feel hurt and try to talk with him, the issues never get resolved. He might refuse to discuss your upset feelings by saying "You're just trying to start an argument!" or claiming he has no idea what you're talking about.
3. You frequently feel frustrated because you can't get him to understand your intentions.
4. You're upset, not so much about concrete issues like how much time to spend together, but about communication: what he thinks you said and what you heard him say.
5. You sometimes think, "What's wrong with me? I shouldn't feel so bad."
6. He seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything, and his opinion isn't stated as "I think," but as if you're wrong and he's right.
7. You can't recall saying "Cut it out!" or "Stop it!"1
Deciding to hurt another is the abuser's choice. No one can make him judge, critize, accuse, blame, belittle, withdraw, minimize, insult, call names, yell and rage, threaten, name-
These are all the abuser's choices.
Nothing you did or didn't do; nothing you said or didn't say; nothing you know or don't know; nothing you like or don't like; nothing about you MAKES another act abusively toward you. They alone are responsible for their own behavior just as you alone are responsible for yours.
There aren't two sides to this. You are not having a conflict with a loved one, you are being abused by his choice.
Knowing that your abuser chooses to abuse you means that changing yourself will not change his behavior toward you.
Because he has taught you to not trust your own perceptions and thoughts, start by going to the library or book store and starting to read about verbal abuse. Get an objective viewpoint and see if you find yourself and his behavior in the pages.
Get educated about what is being done to you. Realizing that you are not responsible for his behavior will stop the crazy making. No longer will you keep trying to make him understand or to be "better." Now, you can focus on trying to stop his abuse.
You will need outside help to support you in this time and to regain yourself. Seek counseling if you need additional help.
Don't allow anyone to dominate and control you. You were made to be loved and to give love in return. Abuse is not love by any stretch of the imagination. If you are being abused it is not because it is the Lord's will for you but because of sin and evil in the world. He can help you and provide a way to heal. I pray that you find help to be restored and set free.
~ In Christ, Dr. Kim West
1 By Annie Gottlieb, based on the work of Patricia Evans
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Verbal abuse is defined as an attempt to control, dominate and diminish another, venting the abusers feelings on the victims all the while blaming the victim for them. The goal of verbal abuse is control and for the abuser not to have to feel powerless.