What is verbal abuse?

The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond by Patricia Evans
Click here to purchase The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Expanded Third Edition: How to recognize it and how to respond

This book was a great help for me while coming out of an abusive relationship. I was miserable with my first husband who criticized and name-called, but when I tried to tell people how bad it was, I was told that it was not abuse. Yes. It is. Verbal abuse is abuse and it’s just as much abuse as physical abuse. It has proven, long-term consequences and can cause PTSD and Stockholm Syndrome. It’s not just about the yelling and mean words, it’s about how they work together to destroy a person until they begin to believe the abusive comments. It’s about how people get trapped. Therapists and professionals know this, but the general public often does not. I believe that we as a society do not take as good of care of our emotional and mental health as we should, but it is just as important as our physical health. A lot of times, we try to play strong and throw our emotional needs out the window for fear or embarrassment or maybe just ignorance, but verbal abuse takes its toll. And worse…children learn to do what they see at home, so the dysfunctional cycle of degradation continues.

When I was in the verbally abusive marriage, I lived in a state of fear–wondering what he was going to attack next. He would get mad over little things and berate me for not doing dishes correctly or not filling the cats’ food bowl properly. For example, I was an extreme cat lover and loved my cats like my children, (I didn’t have children then.) I pampered them and loved them, but I would let their food bowls run very low before I refilled them. The cats did not go without; I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t pouring fresh food on top of old/stale food. It seemed reasonable to me. It didn’t seem like a reason for my husband to yell at me. These types of things happened daily. I lived on edge wondering if I was crazy or if he was since he kept throwing fits and giving me the silent treatment over things like that that didn’t seem like fighting over. After nearly two years of these things daily, I was a shell of my previous self and was frantic to keep him happy. That’s what verbal abuse does to a person. After I got out of that mind-numbing game, I was so grateful to find this book. I also joined the author’s online forums which were so helpful for me. (At that time, she personally called everyone who applied to join the private forums, so they should be very safe!) I really want people to understand that verbal and emotional abuse DO matter. They are insidious and eat away at you. And they leave you vulnerable to further abuse if you don’t fully heal. I had come from an abusive childhood, so when my husband started getting angry all the time, it seemed a bit normal to me, even though I was miserable and confused by his behavior. I had learned to accept such crazy-making as normal, but it is NOT normal or healthy. This book is excellent validation if you feel like something is wrong with the way your partner speaks to you.

The chapter titles are:
1. Evaluating Your Own Experience
2. Two Kinds of Power: A Broad Perspective
3. Personal Power: A Look at Reality II
4. The Abuser and the Abusive Relationship: A Look at Reality I
5. The Consequences of Verbal Abuse
6. The Partner’s Feelings
7. Obstacles and Indicators
8. Characteristics and Categories of Verbal Abse
9. The Anger Addict
10. Conditioning and the Partner
11. The Recognition of Verbal Abuse and Asking For a Change
12. Responding with Impact to Verbal Abuse
13. Recovery
14. Looking Back
15. The Underlying Dynamics: Some Reasons Why

Lasting Lessons:

Verbal abuse IS abuse.
Verbal abuse includes blocks to communication like the “cold shoulder” or refusing to let someone respond.
Verbal abuse is sometimes disguised as a joke.

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