Unlike physical abuse, verbal and emotional abuse doesn’t leave physical scars, cuts or bruising, however, it does leave painful emotional scars that can take years to heal. And unlike physical abuse, verbal and emotional abuse is often subtle and covert, leaving victims feeling more and more confused over time.
The victim of verbal/emotional abuse lives in an increasingly confusing reality. Subtle demeaning comments or angry outbursts, cool indifference or one-upmanship, silent witholding or manipulative coercion are common experiences. They are, however, cloaked in a ‘what’s wrong with you?’ or ‘it’s all your fault!’ attitude and many other forms of denial. It is the abuser’s denial that becomes so much a part of the ‘crazy making’ that is verbal/emotional abuse.
Verbal and emotional abuse in couple relationships is no longer only a woman’s experience. It is a fact that increasing numbers of men suffer verbal/emotional abuse from their partners. Many believe that the psychological and emotional effects are not as severe for men. This is not true! If you are a man suffering from verbal abuse, you likely have no support system for a variety of reasons, and therefore, professional help is crucial!
My upcoming book, ‘It’s Not Always Him’ is written to help both men and women recognize subtle verbal/emotional abuse and manipulation. My intention is to reveal the nuances and reality of this ‘silent monster’ among us. It is an issue that millions around the world suffer from on a regular basis. The underlying premise of my book is that verbal/emotional abuse is an issue of control; a means of having power over another. The abuser is about getting his/her way at all costs!
If you have, or are, being verbally and emotionally abused, you have been told in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that your perceptions are wrong and your feelings are wrong. You are generally left feeling that things are always your fault and something is fundamentally wrong with your communication, or worse, you! Consequently, you come to doubt your own experience and, at the same time, not realize you are doing so. Your self-worth is consistently diminished.
The following evaluation is designed for both men and women to help determine if you are experiencing verbal/emotional abuse by your partner:
- Your partner is often irritated or angry even though you haven’t meant to upset him/her. He/she tells you in some way that it’s your fault.
- When you feel hurt or attacked and try and discuss the issue, your partner refuses to discuss the situation.
- You frequently feel perplexed, frustrated, and confused by your partner’s responses, as you can’t see to get him/her to understand what you are trying to say. You conclude, ‘I’ll just try harder to explain myself’ but he/she never seems to understand you.
- You sometimes wonder, ‘What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t feel so bad.’ You even begin to doubt your own sanity! Please remember, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!
- He/she rarely, if ever, wants to share his/her thoughts and feelings with you. He/she will not be vulnerable with you.
- He/she takes the opposite view from you on almost everything you mention, and his/her view is not qualified by ‘I think’ or ‘I believe’ or “I feel’–as if your view were always wrong and his/her view were always right.
- He/she is either irritated or angry or has ‘no idea of what you’re talking about’ when you try and discuss an issue.
The following are some additional questions to help you further determine if you are being verbally/emotionally abused.
- Do you feel controlled by your partner?
- Do you feel like your always ‘walking on eggshells’ and fear you’ll say the wrong thing?
- Is he/she always blaming you for the problems in your relationship?
- Do you feel like you have no voice in the relationship?
- Do you get put on a guilt trip, sneered at, or ‘blasted’ if you express an opinion or perception that differs from your partners?
- Is everything you do scrutinized or judged?
- Do you feel like you are being manipulated or lied to?
- Do you feel worn down mentally and physically, or frightened to the point you just give in or ‘cave’ and do what he/she wants.
- Are you afraid to leave, in part, because you fear retaliation or the children will be used as ‘pawns?’ Do you sense that your partner will not let you leave without a fight?
- Does your partner ever take responsibility for his/her actions or the abuse?
If you can identify with even a couple of the above questions, you are being verbally/emotionally abused. Abuse can be stopped with awareness and support. Before you can stop it, however, you must recognize it and admit to yourself you are being victimized. The recognition is difficult because you are being manipulated and then blamed for the manipulation and the abuse itself! It is very confusing! Hence verbal abuse is ‘crazy making.’ Many victims of verbal/emotional abuse do not even know their being abused, yet wonder why they feel bad most of the time.
Do not try and cope alone as victims often end up feeling depressed, defeated, and even suicidal. If you think you may be a victim of verbal/emotional abuse, contact my website at www.acacounselling.ca and set up a consultation with me. I will teach you how to recognize the intricacies of verbal abuse and respond effectively. Remember, the abuser is not motivated to change. I will help you out of the ‘crazy making’ experience and rebuild your self-worth; something that has no doubt taken a ‘beating’ in a verbally abusive relationship. There is help and hope for both women and men!