My ex-boyfriend and I had exchanged stories regarding our most recent break-ups when we first met. He told me that his ex girlfriend had broken up with him because he was “too negative” – BIG surprise there! He seemed so charming and supportive; “negative” just didn’t make sense to me at the time.
However, there were lots of little signs that I didn’t pay attention to because I was infatuated. The key in identifying an abusive individual is being able to hone in on those RED FLAGS at the beginning that might predict escalated abuse in the future. I remember reading the following list months into my relationship, when the verbal abuse had peaked, and I had then put the pieces together. All of these signs were present even at the beginning, just to a lesser degree:
- He seems irritated or angry with you several times a week. When you ask why he’s mad, he either denies it or tells you it’s in some way your fault.
- When you feel hurt and try to talk with him, the issues never get resolved. He might refuse to discuss your upset feelings by saying, “You’re just trying to start an argument!” or claiming he has no idea what you’re talking about.
- You frequently feel frustrated because you can’t get him to understand your intentions.
- You’re upset—not so much about concrete issues like how much time to spend together, but about communication: what he thinks you said and what you heard him say.
- You sometimes think, “What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t feel so bad.”
- He seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything, and his opinion isn’t stated as, “I think …” but as if you’re wrong and he’s right.
- You can’t recall saying, “Cut it out!” or “Stop it!”
Excerpt from: The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Patricia Evans. Adams Media Corp 1992, 1996, 2010
Get to know the person you’re dating VERY well. Be curious, ask questions, see how they respond, make note of their inclination to address any topic – are they genuinely forthcoming or do they simply blame their ex’s for failed relationships in the past? Are they coming on too strong? This could be a sign that they’re trying to control and take ownership of you. Are they constantly speaking highly of you and very lowly of others? They might be idealizing you and this will lead to constant criticism down the line. Full-fledged verbal abuse takes time, but the signs are there right off the bat.
Always respect yourself, speak up when you’re being mistreated and trust your gut. DON’T settle! Once I’m ready to date and start a new relationship, I’ll be taking my time, making sure that respect and healthy communication are priorities for both.
I had spent many months after my relationship drowning in “WHYs.” It was exhausting, to say the very least.
Why did he treat me the way he did? Why isn’t he calling? Why can’t he apologize? Why do others seem to love him so much? Why is he so driven and successful? Why does he seem so oblivious to what he put me through? Why can’t he fix himself? Why doesn’t he care? Why is he so selfish? Why does he think he’s always right? WHY ME?!
If you’re at all familiar with the “WHY” stage after your verbally abuse relationship is over, then you’ll know how draining it can be. It’s taken every ounce of my strength to stop asking why and to start moving forward. Ultimately, I’ll just never know. What I do know is that his instability and his issues with aggression stem from an inner suffering I can’t help with nor understand. Unless he gets the proper help he needs, which will help him to understand how and why he hurt me, which might encourage him to APOLOGIZE, I’ll just never reconcile with the “WHYs.”
Constantly asking “WHY” is like digging yourself so deep into a bottomless pit that you start to lose sight of the light. I’m finally learning how to move forward, stop asking questions to which I can’t possibly have the answers to, and focus on being happy and strive for my goals.
Identify the Issue: If your spouse, the person you are closest to habitually, verbally abuses you and dismisses your feelings, you will begin to see yourself and your needs as unimportant, of little consequence and irrelevant. However, since the abuser is usually in denial, it is important for the victim to be the one who can identify and pinpoint instances of verbal abuse and do something about it. When you finally recognize and come to terms with the idea that you are being verbally abused you need to also become focused on getting help. Here are some steps you can take if faced with verbal abuse.
Recognize the signs: The key to healing is to recognize verbal abuse for what it is and to begin to take deliberate steps to stop it and bring healing. Whether you are experiencing threats, demeaning language, hostile tone, sarcasm, or any other form of abuse, it disguises what is really occurring in a relationship. Underneath all forms of verbal abuse are issues of power and control. Abusers seek to gain an advantage over their victim and to overpower or control them. This is inherently wrong and can cause significant emotional and psychological distress. If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, seek some kind of help and try to either remedy the situation or even leave if there is a risk of escalation.