Verbally abusive relationship, Part 2
This is the second part of a two-part series on verbal abuse. In this article I will address some ways to manage verbal abuse.
The first step in changing verbal abuse is when a partner recognizes the signs of verbal abuse and begins to doubt their mate rather than themselves. They begin to realize there are certain rights in every relationship.
Pat Evens in her book entitled “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” lists these rights as follows:
• The right to good will from the other person.
• The right to emotional support.
• The right to be heard by the other and to be responded with courtesy.
• The right to have your own view, even if your mate has a different one.
• The right to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real.
• The right to clear and informative answers to questions that concern what is legitimately your business
• The right to live free from accusations, blame, judgement and criticism.
• The right to have your work and interests spoken with respect
• The right to encouragement.
• The right to live free from emotional and physical threats.
• The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage.
• The right to be called by no name that devalues you.
• The right to be respectfully asked rather than be ordered.
Once you recognize your rights and set limits begin to ask for change. Asking for change and setting limits is important. Only then will you know if there is a possibility for a healthy relationship.
Not all abusers will change, many of them will deny there is a problem. It will be hard for them to change because they are not the one in pain. If your mate is a confirmed abuser when you start to set limits and ask for a change s/he may increase the intensity of the abuse in an attempt to increase control over you.
If your mate agrees to change, change will not come easy. Remember the verbal abuse has become part of his/her repertoire for years. It will take a strong effort and time to “unlearn” old behavior and replace it with new behavior. Feelings of personal powerlessness within needs to be resolved.
Here are some steps you can take:
1. See a professional counselor, one who is familiar with verbal abuse.
2. Ask your partner to go with you If your partner is unwilling, go by yourself.
3. Start setting limits - stating what you will put up with and what you will not put up with. For example, “I will not accept comments which put me down.”
4. Call the abuser on every offense. A firm “STOP IT” is all that is necessary and walk away. Don’t explain or say anything else.
5. You can leave the situation. Plan ahead of time where and how you will go if you need to leave.
6. Ask for changes you want in your relationship. For example: how much time you need for yourself, how much time you would like to spend together, how to manage the finances etc.
These changes do not come overnight or will they be easy but they can happen with commitment and effort. The decision whether to remain in the relationship is up to you.
To help decide ask yourself the following questions: What are the possibilities for improvement? Do I feel a real connection? Does my partner enrich my life? How many good years do I have left and how do I want to spend them?
Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D, LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls. She can be contacted at 827-0700.