Thursday, February 26, 2009
Verbal and Emotional Abuse. Recognizing Yourself as a Victim and How to Make it Stop.
Fruit of His Labor by dzaet
"Verbal abuse is damaging to the spirit. It takes the joy and vitality out of life. It distorts reality." -Paula Evans
This is a topic that has touched me recently and so I have been doing research on the effects of verbal and emotional abuse and more importantly, how to recognize yourself as a victim. It is often more damaging in the longrun than physical abuse on the victim. Because I am not a professional, I have put together information from experts in this field along with various resources for help.
"Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are real." -Helpguide.org
"Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to physical violence and even murder. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. No one deserves this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need." - Helpguide.org
When lack of respect/support, abandonment, indirect/direct insults, "joking", ignoring/contributing to financial problems (financial abuse), economic dominance/financial control, insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards,), sabotaging your work, stealing from you/taking your money, blame, excuses, control, intimidation, humilation, belittling... are prevalent on a weekly and consitant basis, domestic abuse may be the basis of your relationship. (financial abuse info at bottom of post).
When your spirit starts to wither away, you are losing your self-esteem/confidence, you start to feel numb or helpless, you avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner, feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner and you begin to question your worth or sanity, and especially when it starts to effect other aspects of your life (home, housework, family, business, personality ie. outgoing woman becomes withdrawn...) you need help to figure out the underlying cause. For common questions answered by expert, Patricia Evans (author of the book and the lists below), please visit HERE. For another excellent resource with symptoms, dangers and how to get help, please visit The Domestic Abuse Helpine.
Often times, women will tell themselves "if only he would just hit me, or do something REALLY bad, then I will leave!", however, without setting your boundaries and knowing your breaking point, being conditioned and brainwashed (and perhaps told) that you are "going crazy" or just "too sensitive" are warning signs. Often times, the abuser is seen by those on the outside as a "good guy".
The book "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum, is an excellent book that touches on many many topics and will help you decipher if you truly are worrying too much in a happy and healthy relationship, if your relationship is salvagable or if it is dangerous to your body and/or spirit and you need to leave.
Below, I have compiled a list of surveys and text from the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship; How to Recognize It and How to Respond by Patricia Evans, a valued expert in this field. I strongly recommend this book if you feel you could be in an abusive relationship, or if you know someone who is. If you are a victim, this book will also give you insight on dealing with the abuser and recovery. Of the 40 women researched and interviewed for this book, only 4 of them stayed with the abuser and the average lifespan of the marriage was 16 years.
List "of the Primary Consequences of verbal abuse, which the partner/victim may experience":
1. A distrust of her spontaneity.
2. A loss of enthusiasm.
3. A prepared, on-gaurd state.
4. An uncertainty about how she is coming across.
5. A concern that something is wrong with her.
6. An inclination to soul searching and reviewing incidents with the hope of determining what went wrong.
7. A loss of self-confidence.
8. A growing self doubt.
9. An internalized "critical voice".
10. A concern that she isn't happier than she ought to be.
11. An anxiety of fear of being crazy.
12. A sense that time is passing and she's missing something.
13. A desire not to be the way she is- "too sensitive," etc...
14. A hesitancy to accept her perceptions.
15. A reluctance to come to conclusions.
16. A desire to escape or run away.
17. A belief that what she does best may be what she does worst.
18. A tendency to live in the future- "Everything will be great/better when/after..."
19. A distrust of future and other relationships.
20. A pit in her stomach.
List of typical characteristeics of an emotional and verbal abuser, in which they may have few, many or all and can be difficult to recognize, in no particular order:
2. likely to blame his mate for his outbursts
3. unpredicatble (you never know what will anger him)
6. unaccepting of his mate's feelings and views
7. unexpressive of warmth and empathy
9. silent and uncommunicative in private or, frequently demanding and argumentative
10. a "nice guy" to others
11. competitive towards his partner
14. quick with come-backs or put downs
19. unexpressive of his feelings
Here is a survey with examples from the book, where it reccomends if more than 2 things apply to you, you are in an abusive relationship:
1. He seems irritated or angry with you several times a week or more although you hadn't meant to upset him. You are suprised each time. (He say's he's not mad when you ask him what he's mad about, or he tells you in some way that it's your fault).
2. When you feel hurt and try to discuss your upset feelings with him, you don't feel as if the issue has been fully resolved, so you don't feel happy and relieved, nor do you have a feeling you've "kissed and made up".
3. You frequently feel perplexed and frustrated by his responses because you can't get him to understand your intentions.
4. You are upset not so much about concrete issues- how much you spend time together, where to go on vacation...- as about the communication in the relationship: what he thinks you said and what you heard him say.
5. You sometimes wonder "what is wrong with me? I shouldn't feel so bad".
6. He rarely seems to want to share his thoughts or plans with you.
7. He seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything you mention, and his view is not qualified by "I think" or "I believe" or "I feel"- as if his view is right and yours is wrong.
8. You sometimes wonder if he percieves you as a seperate person.
9. You can't recall saying to him "cut it out!" or "stop it!"
10. He is either angry or has "no idea of what you're talking about" when you try to discuss an issue with him.
11. He doesn't "remember" arguments that have effected you.
12. You may be so absorbed in raising a family or developing a career that you ignore the problems in the realationship thinking nothing is perfect anyway.
13. You do not have the self-esteem or confidence which demands that you always be treated with courtesy and dignity.
14. You believe your mate is rational in his behaviour toward you, so that he has "some reason" for what he says.
15. The abuser's behavior is alternately abusive and non-abusive, so that the partner is never sure whether or not the relationship is working. You are quick to forget unhappy feelings during the "up" times.
16. You may believe that if your mate provides for you, he really loves you.
17. You may believe there is something wrong with you.
18. You may never have considered the question "am I being verbally abused?"
This list is for teaching recognition of how the abuse makes you feel "crazy" is in the following checklist:
1. Feeling temporarily thrown off balance and momentarily to right oneself.
2. Feeling lost, not knowing where to turn, searching aimlessly.
3. Being caught off gaurd.
4. Feeling disconnected, confused, disoriented.
5. Feeling off-balance, as if the rug has been pulled from under one's feet.
6. Receiving double messages but somehow unable or fearful to ask for clarification (or asking for clarification but not getting it.)
7. Feeling generally "bugged" by the simple presence of the person.
8. To discover that one was mistaken in one's evaluation of where one stood or what it was all about.
9. Feeling totally unprepared for a broken promise or unfulfilled expectation.
10. Experiencing the shattering of an important "dream".
11. Where one assums goodwill, ill will seems to prevail.
12. One feels pushed around, not in control of one's own direction.
13. Unable to get off redundantly spinning circles of thoughts.
14. What seemed clear becomes muddled.
15. An uneasy, weird feeling of emptiness.
16. A strong wish to get away, yet feeling unable to move, as if frozen.
17. One is befuddled, not able to attack the problem.
18. Feeling vaguely suspicious that something is wrong.
19. Feeling that one's subjective world has become chaotic.
"Verbal Abuse Disguised as Jokes" pg 85
"Abuse disguised as a joke is a category of verbal abuse in which all of the women I interviewed experianced. It takes a quick mind to come up with ways of disparaging the partner either crassly or with wit and style. This kind of abuse is not done in jest. It cuts to the quick, touches the most sensitive areas, and the leaves the abuser with a look of triumph. The abuse never seems funny because it isn't funny.
Disparaging comments disquised as jokes often refer to the feminine nature of the partner, to her intellectual abilities, or to her competency.
If the partner says, "I didn't think that was funny", the abuser may, for example, discount her experiance by angrily saying, "You just don't have a sense of humor!" or "You just can't take a joke!" or he may accuse her antogonism by angrily saying, "You're just trying to start an argument." "You're too sensitive"" You don't know what you're talking about". "You're making a big deal out of nothing" "You twist everything around" "You read too much into my words" "You're looking for a fight". These statements themselves are abusive. (the last five examples I included are taken from the 'Discounting' as a form of abuse and is called "one of the most destructive forms of verbal abuse" by the author. Discounting is when the abuser 'discounts', denies and distorts the partner's perception of abuse and is therefore, one of the most insidious forms of verbal abuse.
It may be obvious to the reader that the abuser's responses do not demonstrate good will or an interest in the relationship. Unfortunately, the partner is usually not that clear about it. Since the abuser responds with anger, the partner may believe she did "take it wrong" and that is what he is angry about, or (as some partners of abusers do) she may wonder if there is something wrong with her sense of humor. The brainwashing effects of verbal abuse cannot be overemphasized... An abuser may also startle or frighten his partner, after which he will laugh as if it were a joke."
The 14 categories of verbal abuse touched on in this book are:
2. Countering (arguing against her thoughts/veiws/perception and experiance, making you second guess yourself)
4. Verbal Abuse Disgused as Jokes
5. Blocking and Diverting the real problem (changing the subject)
6. Accusing and Blaming
7. Judging and Criticizing
8. Trivializing (making something seem insignificant)
9. Undermining (witholding support, erodes confidence and determination, sabotaging)
11. Name Calling
12. Forgetting (involved denial and covert manipulation, forgetting promises...)
13. Ordering and Demanding (You're not wearing that, Get me the remote now, You can't leave...)
14. Denial (I never said that, you're making that up, you're crazy, you get upset about nothing, I don't know where you got that)
An In Depth Look at Financial Abuse
What Is Financial or Economic Abuse?
"Financial and economic abuse is a form of domestic violence in which the abuser uses money as a means of controlling his or her partner. Financial and economic abuse is only one tactic that an abuser may use to gain power and dominance over his or her victim.
An abuser may deny his or her partner money. One way this is accomplished may be by forbidding a partner to be employed. This makes the non-working partner dependent upon the abuser for money. There are some economically abused women who are forced to beg their partner for everyday necessities such as diapers (for children), food and/or health care. If an abuser does permit his or her partner to work, he or she may be required to hand over their paycheck each week to their abuser.
Many times an abuser will give money to his or her partner. However, it may not be sufficient enough to meet the needs of the individual. Any monies that are given to a partner by an abuser will generally have to be accounted for and proof will have to be shown of all purchases.
Many financial and economic abusers will put all of the family bills in their victim’s name. At the same time, the abuser will not allow his or her partner to see bank records, bills or credit records. Many financial and economic abusers are not good with money and he or she will end up destroying the credit of their partners.
Some economic abusers who require their partners to do illegal acts for money. There are also abusers who will use any money brought in for children through welfare, child support checks, or monetary gifts on themselves.
Some financial abusers who refuse to work, putting the burden upon their partners to keep the household running. However, money that is brought in by the working victim is mishandled and squandered by the abuser. Then, the victim is berated if bills fall behind."
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline or calling 1-800-779-7233 (SAFE). Here is another resource on how to help someone who is being abused. Also, it can be hard to understand WHY they choose to stay, the article "Why don't they just leave? at the bottom of the above link can provide some insight. Remember, there is ALWAYS a way out with qualified people and often times, friends and family are willing to help. Just think, if the abuse hasn't changed now no matter how hard you try to better or explain yourself, will it go on like this forever? No one deserves to be treated and devalued in these demeaning ways. Much love and peace to anyone who is dealing with this extremely serious, devastating and often misunderstood and downplayed issue.