If ever a perspective shift is needed, it is in understanding and defining what constitutes abuse. Most often, we think of physical abuse as that is what gets the most publicity. But many are living in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship as well.
Perhaps you are the victim; perhaps you are the perpetrator–but today is a new day. Step back and examine your relationship (spouse/spouse or partners, parent/child, sibling/sibling, coworkers and friends, any relationship can be impacted). If any of these things are occurring, it’s time to take the steps to make changes. If both are committed to working together on the change or to seek professional help, the intimacy and foundations of love may be repaired. If both are not committed, know that you are not stuck and you are not required to stay. Sometimes loving unconditionally means to leave unconditionally.
In the book ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship’ by Patricia Evans, there are 15 types of verbal abuse. Do you recognize one or more of these?
1. Withholding: withholding information and deliberately not sharing your thoughts
2. Countering: countering a positive feeling with a negative one that dismisses the victim’s feelings or accomplishments
3. Discounting: denying a victim’s right to how s/he feels
4. Verbal abuse disguised as jokes: jokes that hurt a person’s feelings; covering up insults with “it’s a joke”
5. Blocking/Diverting: changing the conversation to dismiss victim, affirming their opinion is not important
6. Accusation/blame: inflicting stress on victim by blaming them for things out of their control
7. Judgment/criticism: most “you” statements are critical and abusive “you are never satisfied”, “no one likes you as you are always so negative”
8. Trivializing: making a victim seem insignificant or unimportant by undermining and negatively criticizing activities and opinions
9. Undermining: undermines, demotivates, and dismisses victim’s actions to make him/her doubt themselves and harm their self-esteem
10. Threatenings: mental abuse to try and gain something from the victim that will leave them indebted to perpetrator
11. Name calling: use name calling, explicit and subtle insults to hurt the person
12. Forgetting: perpetrator deliberately or unintentionally forgets; neglecting to make an effort to remember further diminishing the victim’s worth
13. Ordering: demanding using mean or negative tone to gain power over victim
14. Denial: abuser denies any wrongdoing, tries to rationalize his/her behavior, is unaccountable and does not acknowledge consequences of the harmful, hurtful actions
15. Abusive anger: yelling, screaming; throwing out words, insults, and criticisms laced in anger
If you are experiencing any of these or if you recognize you are the perpetrator of these behaviors, it’s not too late. You can make the changes now on your own or with professional help. Know you are better than this behavior and you are worthy of better treatment. We are all worthy of being treated with kindness, respect and love.