The answer to “How Do I Stop the Verbal Abuse?” is…drum roll, please…You Can’t! I wish that you could control how another person speaks and how they act. But you can’t.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever asked your verbally abusive husband or boyfriend to speak to you in a nicer way. Raise your hand if you’ve tearfully begged your verbally abusive wife to be kinder to you. Wow. That’s a lot of hands. Did it work? No. At least not forever. The next time your abuser felt turmoil, s/he used their anger or sly verbal manipulations to bring you down again.
Why Verbal Abusers Hurt You
Verbal abusers do what abusers do. They gain control and benefit from abusing you. By abusing you, they feel more in control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Your abuser knows that after verbally abusing you, you will react in predictable ways. You may cry, you may yell, but after awhile, you go back to them with an open heart, begging for them to love you. And every time you beg to be worthy of your abuser’s love, they get a self-esteem kick out of it.
Your desire for them to love you makes them feel important and in control. When you tell your abuser how you feel, or how you want things to be, or how much you love them, you give your abuser ammunition. By opening your heart to your abuser, s/he gains a little more insight into what makes you tick. When you open up, your abuser learns new ways to hurt you, and then files the information away for the next time s/he feels out of control and needs you to react in a predictable way so they can feel at peace and in control.
You can’t stop them from abusing you. They are too invested in your pitiful pleas for love to ever stop abusing you. Your reactions to their abuse makes you an invaluable asset; an asset they do not want to abandon because they do not know how to feel good about themselves without you feeling badly.
Abusers and Verbal Abuse: More Bad News
Here’s the next bit of bad news. You can’t teach them how to feel good about themselves in any “normal” way.
It doesn’t matter to them if you are the most successful psychologist in America whose focus is on healing families suffering from verbal abuse. It doesn’t matter to them how many other people think you are “right” or “knowledgable” or “deserve better treatment” than the crap your abuser dishes out. You cannot teach them to think differently because you are the target. The abuser’s self-proclaimed job is to make you less than who you are so they feel better about themselves. Period.
Verbal Abuse: You Are Only A Target
The only thing riflemen or bow hunters learn from the target they use for practice is how to hone their skill to hit the bullseye each and every time. The only thing an abuser can learn from their target is how to hit you more accurately the next time – how to hit you verbally, emotionally, mentally or physically with greater effect.
The only thing you can do to stop the verbal abuse is to remove yourself from it. You must at the very least become a moving target. You can do that in several different ways. Some of you are not ready to physically leave your abuser, and that is okay.
Honestly, you may never leave your abuser. You may choose to stay in your abusive relationship for any number of reasons; I stayed in my abusive marriage for just shy of 18 years. If you choose to stay - it is a choice, believe it or not – there are still things you can do to help preserve your sanity.
The next blogs I write will present options to you. For now, try to digest the fact that you cannot stop physical, mental, emotional or verbal abuse from happening to you. The only thing you can do is change how you react to it.
Reach Out – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 2)
Educate Yourself – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 3)
Self Reliance – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 4)
Develop an Exit Strategy – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 5)
How To Stop Verbal Abuse – Wrap-Up (Part 6)