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RECOGNIZING VERBAL ABUSE

By Patricia Evans

According to Patricia Evans in her groundbreaking book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond, many obstacles stand in the way of recognizing verbal abuse when it's happening and the abuser's reality. In the view of the author, these obstacles appear in most abusive relationships, and becoming aware of them eliminates their power. The author recommends steps one can take for each of these indicators of verbal abuse. If you can relate to any or all of them, you might want to read the whole book. DOL gives this book an A+. However, in DOL's view, the issue of verbal abuse is not gender-specific. We hope that our male readers will also be able to derive benefits from this article as well.

* The partner has learned to overlook unkindness, disrespect, disregard, and indifference as not important enough to stand up to.

* Upsetting incidents are denied by the abused, and the partner thinks she's wrong.

* Verbal abuse, control, and manipulation have not been articulated or defined for the partner, so she remains confused.

* The partner thinks her feelings are wrong.

* The partner intermittently forgets her upset feelings when the abuser is intermittently friendly.

* The abuse can be very subtle -- the control increasing gradually over time so that the partner gradually adapts to it.

* The abuser controls the interpersonal communication and, therefore, the interpersonal reality by refusing to discuss upsetting interactions.

* The abuser blames the partner for upsetting interactions, and the partner believes him and therefore thinks that they are her fault.

* The partner has no basis of comparison -- no experience of nonabusive relationships with men.

* The abuser and partner may function very well together in their respective roles, making a home, raising a family, and "getting ahead," so the abusive nature of the relationship is overlooked.

* The partner may be so absorbed in raising a family or developing a career that she ignores the problems in the relationship, thinking that nothing is perfect anyway.

* The partner may have never seen a model of a healthy relationship and good communication.

* At times, the abuser is not abusive. Consequently, the partner forgets the "bad times."

* The partner is too stunned or thrown off balance to think clearly about what is happening to her.

* The partner does not have the level of self-esteem which demands that she always be treated with courtesy and dignity.

* The partner's reality has never been validated. Others don't see the abuse, so it doesn't seem real to her.

* The partner believes her mate is rational in his behavior toward her, so that he has "some reason" for what he says.

* The abuser's behavior is alternately abusive and nonabusive, so that the partner is never sure whether or not the relationship is working.

* The partner believes her perceptions may be wrong.

* The partner may have no knowledge of verbal abuse and no appropriate models of better relationships to which she can compare her own relationship.

* The partner may believe that the way her mate is, is the way men are, with possibly a few exceptions.

* The partner may believe that if her mate provides for her he really loves her.

* The partner thinks there is something wrong with her.

* The partner believes that when her mate is angry she has somehow hurt him.

* The partner may never have considered the question, "Am I being verbally abused?"

The partner does not realize that an abusive personality -- one that seeks Power Over another -- is not capable of the empathetic comprehension that love and relationships require.

Often, the partner of a verbal abuser does not recognize verbal abuse for what it is until the abuse changes, in kind or in intensity. If the partner does recognize the abuse and does confront her mate, the abuser who is unwilling to change usually intensifies his aggression in an attempt to regain control. He may intimidate her with angry rages or he may manipulatively play upon her feelings by, for example, telling her that she is "ruining the relationship."

In order to discover these patterns, it is helpful to become very aware of your own experiences and feelings. You may need to keep a journal in order to keep your thoughts clear, to analyze your own experiences, and to record your feelings.

Some suggestions you might ask yourself are these:

"How often do you feel upset about what is said or not said to you?"

"What is going on in your life at the time?"

"Are there others present?"

"Are you usually alone with your mate?"

"What do you actually feel when there is an upsetting incident with your mate?"

"Do you feel confused, surprised, hurt, frustrated, diminished, threatened?"

"How do you respond?"

Divorce-Online wishes to thank Patricia Evans, author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond, Copyright 1996, for her valuable and insightful contribution to our publication. We also want to recognize Adams Media Corporation, Holbrook, Massachusetts, for their expressed permission to reprint this excerpt.

Posted on Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 02:03PM by Registered CommenterSite Administrator in | Comments Off

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