What is really happening when you are being verbally abused?
Verbal abuse can occur in different areas, family, partner, work, friends, acquaintances, strangers, etc...
The control they want to exercise is the common denominator in people who abuse verbally, this occurs in all areas. The relationship you are trying to establish is the problem. The irrationality of what is happening is the problem. The entire interactive process that takes place between you and the other person, repeatedly, is the problem.
During this interactive process, you and the other cast specific roles, repeatedly enacting similar scenarios. Says or does something hurtful that makes you react. Your reaction is a stimulus for a response in him, and so on. Sometimes people experience both, as the intensity of the abuse fluctuates and abusers use different tactics at different times.
Subtle abuse gives you an uneasy, unsettling feeling, that something is seriously wrong, but you can't figure out what's going on. You may have a sick feeling in your stomach, a tightness in your throat, or some other physical reaction. When you live with people who use subtle abuse, you become so conditioned that it doesn't seem as bad as before. Quiet anxiety becomes your new norm. But the cumulative effect over time of multiple instances of subtle abuse can be devastating. Although there are many variations of subtle abuse, they all involve being treated with disrespect.
Here are some of the most common ways:
- Disapproving and accusatory facial expressions, such as an exasperated or angry face, which the abuser denies, implying that they are seeing strange things.
- Disapproving, accusatory, or sarcastic tones of voice, which the abuser denies, usually on the grounds that they misheard.
- Hurtful comments delivered in a sincere and caring voice.
- Criticism of your appearance, the things you say, or the way you say them that the abuser tells you is for your own good.
- Inferences that you are wrong, stupid, careless, inept, or otherwise non-existent or inappropriate, that the abuser denies that they meant or said anything.
- Judgments or denial of the validity of your thoughts, perceptions, or feelings. The abusive person says that they know you better than you know yourself.
- Challenges or condescending comments about your opinions, beliefs, choices, decisions, goals, dreams, or achievements.
- Insults, derogatory inferences, or sarcastic comments, which may include negative responses or comments about you.
- Breaks his promises and commitments to you, agrees to do things, but doesn't do them, then claims he "forgot" or tells you to stop nagging him about it.
- Habitually refuses to fulfill small requests that other people would consider reasonable. You are afraid to ask him to go out of his way to do something for you, or you don't think it's worth asking for.
- Routinely puts your wants and “needs” before your own.
He insists on going where he/she wants to go and doing what he/she wants to do and expects you to go with him/her without complaining, even if you intensely dislike him/her.
These are examples of some types of abusive power.
It is very important for our mental and physical health to learn the truth about what is really going on in these types of relationships with verbally abusive people.
Once you realize that your partner isn't some poor victim of his biological heritage, his past, or circumstances beyond his control, you won't fall into the trap of feeling sorry for him or trying to "help" him get better. You will know that the only way he will change is if he chooses to change himself. When you stop trying to fix it, you will have taken another big step toward freedom.