Thursday, September 27, 2007
Blogging Against Abuse: Verbal Abuse
Verbal abuse doesn't leave evidence comparable to the bruises of physical battering. You may suffer in silence and isolation.
"A victim is often the target of angry outbursts, sarcasm, or cool indifference. The abuser's reaction to these actions is frequently cloaked in a "What's wrong with you?" attitude. She is accused of "making a mountain out of a molehill." Over time she loses her balance and equilibrium and begins to wonder if she is the one who is crazy."
Margie: Edna, do you remember that couple who moved in down the street and we thought they were so nice? Dave and Hannah. You remember how he joked about her being dumb and said she couldn't balance a checkbook? Wasn't that really verbal abuse?
Edna: I do remember them, Margie, and I think you’re right. She never thought it was funny when he made his little “jokes”, did she? In fact, she always looked kind of sad and embarrassed.
Verbal abuse usually escalates, increasing in intensity, frequency, and variety. The verbal abuse may begin with put-downs disguised as jokes. Later other forms might surface.
Margie: I was reading a book and it made me think about them. He wasn't a nice man at all. I remember how he blamed her for everything. One day he told her that she was a " stupid child." Remember?
Edna: I do, and I was so surprised. No adult should talk to another adult that way, especially to someone they’re supposed to love and respect.
1. Verbal abuse may be overt (through angry outbursts and name- calling) or covert (involving very subtle comments, even something that approaches brainwashing). Overt verbal abuse is usually blaming and accusatory, and consequently confusing to the partner. Covert verbal abuse, which is hidden aggression, is even more confusing to the partner. Its aim is to control her without her knowing.
Margie: I also remember that day when you took them some of your Rhubarb pie. Remember he said Hannah "cooks like a chef?" I just thought about his tone of voice. He meant the opposite didn't he?
Edna: Yes, I think he was being sarcastic, but at Hannah’s expense. I remember too thinking about how he would feel if someone said something like that about him.
2.Verbal abuse is manipulative and controlling. Even disparaging comments may be voiced in an extremely sincere and concerned way. But the goal is to control and manipulate.
Margie: Do you think he was worse when we weren't around?
Edna: I’m afraid that he probably was worse to her in private. That way, he didn’t have to worry about what anyone else thought of his comments.
You know, sometimes when you love someone and you’re used to how they talk to you, you don’t always notice when they’re being intentionally mean to you. Margie, you and I are sometimes crabby with each other, but I would never try to manipulate you. And certainly not by putting you down, I love and respect you too much to do that to you. I would never want anyone to try that with me, either.
3. Verbal abuse usually escalates, increasing in intensity, frequency, and variety. The verbal abuse may begin with put-downs disguised as jokes though other forms may surface later.
Where to turn for help if you find yourself the victim of verbal abuse or other form of domestic violence:
For emergency help: Call 911 immediately if you think you are in imminent danger of domestic violence, or have already been hurt.
For advice and support: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Additional contacts for the hotline:
Help through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Help for the hearing-impaired: 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or email@example.com
National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
For a safe place to stay: If you need a safe shelter from domestic violence, call your state’s branch of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. To find your state’s hotline number, go here.