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Verbal Abuse Disguised as Love

I sometimes blame myself for not hearing our conversations for what they were.

“Conversations” is not the right word. Isn’t a conversation a flow of words and thoughts, back and forth, between two people – a dialogue? But my soon-to-be ex-husband and I didn’t have dialogues, we filled our communications with monologues in which we looked at one another, directed our sometimes screaming voices at one another, but definitely did not converse.

Verbal Abuse Can Be Confusing

Of course, none of these monologues solved any of the issues we wanted to solve, so we both left the monologue feeling…what did he feel? I don’t know what he felt, but I felt defeated.

Verbal abuse is not always name-calling and overt put-downs, but an entire collection of labels meant to define the victim as something he or she is not.He told me what I was doing, what I was thinking, who I was being. He defined me.

I felt attacked. I defensively argued my position that I wasn’t being, thinking or doing any of what he said I was. All I could think was: no, I wasn’t being selfish; no, I wasn’t confused; no, I wasn’t doing that to intentionally make him angry. I felt he misunderstood me 95% of the time. I felt he didn’t know me at all.

Verbal Abuse Can Result In “If Only I…” Type of Thinking

I felt that his low opinion of me, that his analysis of who I was, was off mark. I made it my mission to make him understand that I was his greatest supporter, his best friend, the one person in this world who would do anything for him. I thought that after he knew I loved him, then maybe, just maybe, he would see that I wasn’t a drama-queen, a liar, a man-hater, a naive little woman who didn’t ever quite comprehend the reality of the big bad world. If I could only make him see ME…then maybe he could love me. Maybe we could stop the fights and get to the love. Maybe we could be a team.

But that was not to be. The only time he seemed to feel close to me was when I completely agreed with him in thought, emotion, and action. If I appeared to be agreeing with him, then I was relatively safe from his anger and rage.

So, over time, I learned that I had to be him in order to please him. The problem with being him is that I could not ever be someone I am not. Try as I might, my own personality and beliefs would seep into our monologues at the worst possible moments. It was horrific to watch his face change to disgust at something I said or did. I was just trying to be me. I wanted him to love me.

Verbal Abuse Isn’t Just About Name-Calling

If this feeling seems familiar to you, then I hope you begin researching verbal abuse. You’ll notice that not once in my description of my marriage did he call me a particular name. He didn’t usually throw around words like: fat cow, stupid, lazy, or any of their obscene synonyms that are somehow more than a monosyllabic slap. I don’t mean to imply that his style is more or less hurtful than a name-caller’s style of abuse.

I mean that verbal abuse is composed of a symphony of put-downs and assumptions and even “I care about you so I’m telling you this” statements that flow so smoothly from the abuser that the victim cannot always discern them as abusive. Especially when the abuser is your lover, your friend, your mother, your child…the idea that that loved one could be abusing you is so far-fetched from your own perception of reality that the horribleness is disguised by your own mind as “love”.

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58 Responses to Verbal Abuse Disguised as Love

  1. Cheryl says:

    I’ve been in what seems to be the SAME relationship. He acts out abominably and just about the time I’m ready to be done, he’s back to the sweet man I fell in love with. I am now realizing that this is the “honeymoon” phase in the cycle of abuse. I really don’t understand why this is so hard. I want to be beyond this, but it is SO painful. I want to leave the relationship but I somehow keep going. Praying for us all!

  2. dave says:

    i only see an end to all relationships in all this depressing advise is there any hope to help these people or should we ban relationships completely ,i just see leave them leave them leave them god help you all.

  3. Erin says:

    I am going through a breakup with the girl I loved. We dated for 4 years. We broke up for 6 months last year. When I started a new relationship, she said I was cheating on her and that she could never trust me again (even though she was sleeping with someone she had been emotionally cheating on me with). She eventually asked to give it another go, and I agreed. Big mistake. She never really tried and only brought up mistakes I made in the past. She did the name calling, saying she hated me, that nobody likes me, that I am lower than dirt, a whore, trashy etc. All I did was beg her not to talk to me like that. I did all of this work around her house for her — my language of love is acts of service — so that was my way of showing her I love her (I still said I love you several times a day). She said she could hire someone to do those things, so it did not mean anything. She told me she hoped her plane went down and she died and that I had to live with that. That I could fall into traffic. Then she started hitting too. It is so hard to let it go. I still love her (she ended up leaving me again)…I don’t know how to stop feeling that someone this is all my fault and that she was right in that I do not deserve love. She said I ruined her life, and now I feel responsible. I don’t know what to do and how to not feel so depressed. :(

  4. deb says:

    This sound just like me. I have been married 33 years. I am now at the point where I don’t want him around. I tried loving him. I walked on egg shells all of the time. There were good times but I just cant do this anymore. He can be nice one moment and mean the next. He will come in and say do you want to get something to eat and then the next I am a stupid “f” “b”. the next minute he will want to have sex. He calls me dumb, crazy etc. and then will want to go to go somewhere together. When we go we fight in the car. I want and need to leave but don’t know how or where to start, 33 years is a long time. He says he will not go get help and it is me that needs the help. I am the dumb one, he says. He tells me he is 53 and is not going to change.

  5. jane says:

    Thanks for all your comments I to was in a abusive marriage I thought it was me .well that is what he kept telling me anyway now I know different it is a hard road I am on now getting a divorce but he is even fighting that.

  6. L says:

    I really need some help. From what I read above: “The only time he seemed to feel close to me was when I completely agreed with him in thought, emotion, and action. If I appeared to be agreeing with him, then I was relatively safe from his anger and rage.

    So, over time, I learned that I had to be him in order to please him. The problem with being him is that I could not ever be someone I am not. Try as I might, my own personality and beliefs would seep into our monologues at the worst possible moments. It was horrific to watch his face change to disgust at something I said or did. I was just trying to be me. I wanted him to love me.” I feel like this ALL the time. Except he says things like, “why did you do it that way?” or “why did you say that way?” Tonight was a good example. He listened to me while I left a simple message on someone’s voicemail. As soon as I hung up I got the “why did you say it like that” And he was not saying this in a friendly manner-I could see the hate in his face. And the voicemail was simple…just trying to see if this friend could give our son a ride home from a swim party. I didn’t know how react (never have) to questions like this from him. I just asked him what was wrong with it? All he could say was “why did you talk so fast at the end?” I just said I didn’t realized I had. So I get defensive and walk away to avoid any more questions like this. Which he follows me to continue the verbage, which turns into him saying “f*@# you”. So, now I’m all upset, mad, crying and confused. What did I do? No really, what did I do? Now he’s trying to apologize only because he needs an invoice printed, so I know he really doesn’t mean it. What have I done so wrong? I absolutely hate me sometimes. I don’t know how to defend myself against someone who truly hates me worse than I do.

  7. dee says:

    My boyfriend is very much a verbal abuser..he also always accuse me of trying to get with other people when that is truly not the case..I love him more than he will ever know. .we have been through sooo much together..it went from being phisically abused and verbally abused..to now being verbally abusive most of the time..and still almost getting phisical occasionally..I cannot live a normal life..he want to run every aspect of my life as if I don’t have a brain of my own..and he become totally outraged when I want to use my own brain..but im like im just being me..sometimes he can truly be a sweetheart and other times im every bit** , h*e..and trashy piece of shit in the book..when we argue for wwatever reason he scream soooo loud..I kno the neighbors hear..and its not just about hom screaming its about the most lowest direspectful degrading tjings..he say to me that really hurts..I often wonder how my neighbors look at me because of these incidents that I am sure they hear..coming from my house hold..and the biggest thing that hurt the most is because a lot of times I get treated this way for no apparent reason..other than the way he thinks or the wayhe feel..I have never cheated on him..I have never even tthought about being eith another man..but I can honestly say I sometimes think a lot about leaving him..im at my breaking point we have been together for almost six years..and planning to wed this coming summer..I have learned to deal with him but some things I just dont kno how to deal with..he is slowly breaking me down mentally physically and emotionally..he make me feel like dirt below his shoe when he scream disrespectful things to me..then he always come back a few minutes later and want to work things out and have sex like nothing has ever happen..he do not want to get help..and he thinks I am the one that need help..I just feel like he is draining the life out of me..and I dont kno wat to do should I marry him or get rid of him for good??.please help!!!!

  8. halle says:

    I’ve been through it too – and now I feel like I’m worthless because he treated me worthless no matter how much love I gave him!! It was never enough!! I didn’t deserve any of the abuse he gave me!

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