Verbal abuse within intimate relationships is more than name-calling. The partner engaging in abusive behaviors may use withholding, taunting, accusing, belittling, lying, put downs, abuse disguised as jokes, yelling and raging. These emotionally and verbally abusive behaviors are about maintaining control and power in a relationship. Those who are on the receiving end of these behaviors may feel confused about what’s really happening for themselves – and within their relationship. That’s part of what makes verbally abusive relationships so dangerous. The person engaging in abusive behaviors is often skilled at twisting things around in ways that make the person being abused feel like it’s her/his fault. Since the person being targeted is usually blamed, ignored or yelled at, there’s often great confusion and lack of clarity about what’s really happening in a relationship. In her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, author Patricia Evans describes some of the obstacles and indicators that contribute to the difficulty of recognizing verbal abuse in one’s intimate relationship.
* The abuse is often subtle with control increasing over time – and the partner gradually learns to adapt to it.
* The partner has learned to overlook disrespect, unkindness, disregard and indifference and doesn’t stand up for them self.
* The person being targeted “forgets” the abuse when their partner is friendly to them.
* The abuser and the partner may function well together in terms of working, caring for a home, raising children – so the abuse is overlooked, minimized or ignored – both by the person being abused and those who witness it.
* The partner takes too much responsibility for the pattern of abuse and thinks there’s something wrong with them self.
* The person being targeted has no models or knowledge of healthy relationships to which they can compare the relationship.
Evans reminds us that verbal abuse is a kind of battering – and that while words don’t leave visible scars, the pain of verbal abuse is deep, long-lasting and recovery can be very challenging. Verbally abusive relationships rarely just “get better” on their own and often escalate to physical abuse. Taken from an article by Karen Pace, Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/is_your_relationship_verbally_abusive
The words with which a child’s heart is poisoned,
whether through malice or through ignorance,
remain branded in his memory,
and sooner or later they burn his soul.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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