Verbal Abuse Disguised as Love
Verbal abuse is confusing. I sometimes blame myself for not hearing our conversations for what they were. Conversations is not the right word. A conversation is a flow of words and thoughts, back and forth, between two people - a dialogue. But my 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 Is 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.
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 remembering wrong; 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 Results In "If Only I..." 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 seeped 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 had forgotten to be him. I let myself slip out.
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 tell they are abusive.
Especially when the abuser is your lover, your friend, your mother, your child . . . the idea that your loved one could be abusing you is so far-fetched from your perception of reality that the horribleness is disguised by your own mind as love.
- How To Argue With Your Abusive Spouse and Win
- Language of Love Omitted From Abusive Relationships
- Verbal Abuse Is Not A Communication Problem
- Communication In Abusive Relationships Is A Myth
*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not mistake my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.
Holly, K. (2011, January 20). Verbal Abuse Disguised as Love, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/01/verbal-abuse-disguised-as-love
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
He never swore, drank or called me rude names. I now know he was too controlled. The abuse was insidious, "it's for your own good""It's because I love you" it's taken me years to realise that he wanted me to be him! When I didn't agree and allowed a little of myself out, he would find me disgusting! His favourite phrase was- "if only you were a nice person" I realise today after reading your blog that I have learnt to hate & loathe myself. Possibly I am disgusted with myself?
I bumped into my ex-husband the other day in a local shop. I was about to say hello, I would like to be civil for the sake of our sons. He walked around me and ignored me. He makes me feel like something he trod in.
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.
You may not be in touch with who you are right now, but you have not disappeared. Your abuser cannot take from you your essence, your soul. You still have the ability to stand up for yourself in your own way without resorting to behaving like him. The first step is to create boundaries that remind you to stay within yourself instead of venturing into your abuser's warped world. Check here for more information on boundaries: http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-stop-abuse/deal-abuse/set-personal-boundaries-deal-abuse/
He told me to get therapy and meds. Well it is NOT me. I have read Patricia Evans' books, her website, this website, Lundy Bancroft books and others. It is HIM! I don't MAKE him mad, scream, rage, upset...it is his choice and I will not take the blame for his faults anymore.
Now I have written 'The Agreement' and once I find the appropriate witness, will present it to him. He can take it or leave it. The future is in his hands.
It has finally sunk in that it wouldn't matter who he is married too. No one is good enough. He would find fault, blame, undermine, criticize, minimize, call names to any female.
It is ridiculous and I am sick of it. I am 60! I have been a stay at home Mom for a very long time. My problem is how to support myself. I know he isn't going to change and I can't make him.
The signs were not there in the beginning. After 2 years of wedded bliss it was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Everyone comments on how nice, friendly and fun he is. When the door is shut he is someone else they wouldn't want to know.
When I read your post, it was like it was me talking. Everything you said is what happened to me. Everything PLUS the name-calling. I was married to him for 14 years, and it was like living in a nightmare where nothing made sense. I slowly lost pieces of myself. I cried almost every day because he'd pick on me and "yell" at me (he didn't allow me to call it yelling) for doing things like: using the broom wrong, bathing the dogs too much, not pushing the car seat back when he go it, etc. I couldn't do anything right. And when I didn't feel like having sex, that would set him off, too. We constantly had horrible blow-ups at bedtime. There's far too much for me to write here. I'll just end by saying I ran away and have spent the last seven years trying to unravel all the lies and trying to get myself back. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
Hmmmm Im nervious.....posting anything. Im a abused woman. Ive been struggling for sometime even talking about it. I have been split up from my ex for 6 months....he was a manipulator type so nice to everyone handsome smile sooo nice it was almost fake...he use to open the car door for me then hours later hed be counting the amount of toilet paper I used....i couldnt feed the cat when he was in the same room...he didnt like it..hed call me aweful names when id question who he was always on the phone with...hed say a old friend which were all girls.his flirtacious behavior was innapropriate and made me uncomdfortable. If i said anything about it id get t locke out of the house and or in bathroom choked draggef down the hall way videi taped during this time...told to kill myself the world would be better witjout me...i could go on and on. I finally got out after three years of it bailed him out of jail lied to the judge because i loved him...or did i.? I have terrible nightmare he made me lose my job of 8 years at the hospital i was almost done nursing school and he messed that up as well. I have good days but i feel so ruined my heart at least i still cry myself to sleep. Thats all i can say rite now...thats the most i ever told anyone and theres so much.more but its bed time and i dont wanna upset myself. It was nice to.read all the stories because im not alone.
Hmmmm Im nervious.....posting anything. Im a abused woman. Ive been struggling for sometime even talking about it. I have been split up from my ex for 6 months....he was a manipulator type so nice to everyone handsome smile sooo nice it was almost fake...he use to open the car door for me then hours later hed be counting the amount of toilet paper I used....i couldnt feed the cat when he was in the same room...he didnt like it..hed call me aweful names when id question who he was always on the phone with...hed say a old friend which were all girls.his flirtacious behavior was innapropriate and made me uncomdfortable. If i said anything about it id ge t locke
It has been 7 years of him constantly finding fault with everything my sons and I do, or not do, the goal posts change. This is my second marriage, my first lasted 18 years to an alcohol dependent, ever absent man, the father of my two lovely sons. We have been called "freaks and morons" by husband no 2. Referred to as f*****g idiots, I have been told I am useless, incompetant, stupid and been called a s**g. I have been conned into paying off his debts, paying all the bills on two houses. He has used childish sulking and pester power to force me to buy him expensive watches, a car and a very expensive camera. His false personna, everyone fell for, even my family, they could not believe the wonderful man I had found. He soon turned from Prince Charming to a nasty abusuve monster just after our first wedding anniversary. I tried to get him to seek help, but he wouldn't, so I went to councilling on my own, thinking that he was right the problem was me. How much I have learnt about myself and him. My upbringing was at time emotionally nd verbally abusive so I knew no different. I now know that I don't have to put up with this and in a few weeks my divorce will be final. This man has damaged myself and my two sons. My youngest son and I have developed blood clots, which although are genetic, I am sure the stress we have been under has contributed to our ill health. He threatened to smash my sons face in twice and has gone to punch me in the face, has held me down so I couldn't move, bruised both my arms while trying to get me out of the way so he could hit my son and on one occasion picked me up and threw me out of my bedroom where I hurt my shoulder. He denies it all, 3 of us cant be wrong! I have tried to get his family to help me by talking to him, they are aware of his behaviour, but they don't want to know. When I asked his best friend to help me, even after he told me he has done this before, his friend then called me a liar. So now it is just my sons and I against him. Hopefully, the court next week will take my situation seriously. He's even threatened suicide twice, the second time wanting me to go with him. I am terrified of this guy and have been drawn back in by his periods of loving good behaviour, but no more, I can't take any more. The police didn't think they could secure a conviction against him when I reported the abuse to them, so I didn't persue it.
Anyone out there going through the same, get out before you lose yourself and you are controlled forever. It's hard, it hurts and you will be tempted to go back, there is a better life out there where you are treated with respect , love and dignity. You only have one life!
thank you for yr reply. It is not what I expected. :)
But I think you are correct. My therapist says to me, "You're greatest challene is to do nothin. You want to fix everythin"
I will read and think about yr reply. thank you.
[sorry my 7th letter of the alphabet key just stopped workin! ]
My friend is always taking these programs like "how to be compassionate", and Non-violent communication" and "Buddhist teaching". Don't get me wrong. I think all of these are good things. But a bully cannot be placated. And the problem is in the abuser. If he isn't going to change, no matter how much friend changes, ain't nothing going to change. What stops people from seeing this? What has to happen so that they see it?
Right now, she counts on her shining example to tame him - and, as you said, that ain't gonna work. I realized I was most arrogant when I though my behavior could "improve" my husband. I got it in my head that yes, I was better than him, and he would be happier being like me. I didn't honor him, I sought to change him. The break-through came when I realized I was not powerful enough to change him. I could only change myself. And my Self couldn't breathe in the environment I lived in anymore.
We both hope she will change her perspective, but we cannot be arrogant enough to assume we know what's best for her. She has her own path to follow. It's our job to patiently wait for her to travel it.
In the meantime, take care of your SELF first. Detach from her relationship and focus on your own life for a while. Regain your strength...live your life. We'll pray for her to see the light before he takes it from her completely.
Don't get me wrong - of course I want you to leave. But unless you are afraid for your life or your partner is beating you, you don't have to pressure yourself to leave NOW. You've made it this long and you can make it a little longer as you get your safety plan (and your head) together. What your voice told you isn't about leaving or staying. It's about changing yourself and your reaction to the abuse...or not.
Take a deep breath. The next time you go to therapy, ask your therapist about setting personal boundaries and creating plans of action for when he breaks those boundaries. Find ways to keep yourself safe and strong in the relationship until it is time to leave it. Also talk to your therapist about responding to his abuse. What is safe to say or do? What do you feel comfortable saying or doing?
But all of that planning and thinking is pointless if he is assaulting you, threatening your life, or if you just can't look at him for one more second. If any of that is true, drive to a friend's house with a bag right now and stay there.
It went downhill from there. He got worse when he retired 2 years ago. Then I had enough. He is extremely immature, manipulative and gaslights.
He does not take responsibility for his actions or his words. He has gotten really strange and weird (another women)? I would not doubt it, since he hasnt touched me in 8 months (I am good looking) and take care of myself. Sometimes I wonder if he is gay.
He denies everything he has previously said, making me feel crazy. I told him to leave. it has been 8 weeks now, I feel better about myself and finally have my peace at home. Can he change? Every word I read online says NO. We will see, but I am detaching from him for my own sanity. I must.
I pray every night for strength. It is a journey. I will be alright.
He says he doesnt need therapy and he isnt such a bad person he doesnt hit me or call me names. I have told him i know that he shouldnt treat me as he does and im not letting him do it anymore. Since then he has blamed me from everything from cheating to you name it. I have to keep telling myself its not me and i need to walk away. i would like so much for his Im sorrys to actually mean that but in a year they havent meant anything and now he thinks if he says hes sorry and hes been nice a week everything is okay. Well its not he is infuratated with me and has threatened me with not paying for my bills cause if im gonna leave anyway he isnt paying it. And its still my fault. Needing support to do what i know this is leading to and saving any respect i have for myself.
"He told me what I was doing, what I was thinking, who I was being. He defined me."
This is what verbal abusers do, there is never a conversation, it is just them talking "at" you.
i don't know how many times i have told this man that he won't be happy until i become him. he only wants me and loves me when i "behave". when i try to tell him about what it is that is bothering me between us he asks why i am always coming down on him when he's tried to be nothing but nice to me. he blames me & my mental illnesses. he says my meds need adjusting, i'm having "an episode", i need to snap out of it, etc... i've told him over and over to stop placing the blame on me. yes, i am probably partially to blame because of the way i have been reacting to his behavior... it takes 2 to tango... but now i know WHY i have been acting the way i have. i just hope i can put an end to this without losing my sanity or losing him. Because despite it all, i do love him and i want this to work between us. but i REFUSE to be abused again. i don't deserve it.
Answer - be yourself, stay strong/make plan to deal, eventually you may have to leave/exit the relationship. Ur personality/identity/strength is wats wrong (in the abusers eyes),it answers ur why also and wat u need to do is escape the abuser.
However, you could go to therapy. People affected by abuse of all types need support. For example, Al-Anon exists to help the *family members* of alcoholics.
My therapy sessions were instrumental in helping me get a clearer perspective of my relationship. Yes, I did eventually leave him, but leaving isn't the only option. You can stay with her and be healthier for children and yourself if that is what you want to do.
If mom is not feeling happy and fulfilled in the balance, then with that goal for herself she may be open to seeing a professional to help her reopen her positive emotions and stay in touch with them--no matter her perspectives on your all's behaviors, i.e., those of her family and friends.
No one has to give away their power to feel joy. But learning the hows of that is not always obvious.
If she is into self help, then she may enjoy some YouTube videos, too.
From the "abusers" view, the kids and I seem like we are the narcissists, in that while we are tired of the extreme mood swings and verbal abuses, we try to plead with her and offer her suggestions on how to change the harmful behaviors. However, from our view, she isn't an abuser, but someone who needs to help.
How do you help someone who won't help themselves, but you simply can't take the pain the relationship causes? Leaving isn't an option, it would only increase her already heavy depression.
My mother did all the abusive acts. I did manage to get away from her, but married a man exactly Like her. Still trying to get rid of him. Anyway, after everything that has happened, I have decided to be Alone By Choice. I have had to move at least 3 states away in order to begin the healing process. My mother still calls me. Naturally, now she is the absolute image of love and devotion for me. I ignore it. I know better. I have been on my own for 2 years. I love it. I am learning to love myself. I am also learning that I am far stronger than anyone ever thought.
There is something most people do not know about those of us who have had a lifetime of abuse...rage. Someone like myself has 2 options in life. Either become an abuser, or learn to deal with it proactively. I am the latter. I am not looking for sympathy. It is what it is. No one on the outside can change that. No one. It would be easy to give in to the abuse. To give in to the hatred, anger, and rage I feel toward people. I am stronger than that, and I am Not what they [mother, husband] said I am. It is real work to be nice, kind, and gentle. I tell people that they want me to be that way. Ordinary people cannot make me angry, even if they do "push a button." I know that they aren't doing anything on purpose, thus nothing happens. An abuser is the only one who can make me angry, and I leave them alone.
To All Those Who Are Being Abused:
Get Out! You cannot change them.
They have chosen their path.
Leave them to it. Love yourself.
Thank you for sharing your story. I can certainly relate to what you had to say about your relationship with you soon to be ex-husband. My former husband had very similar behaviors, which is why getting away from him and getting a divorce was the best choice I could have made. I also can relate to the other comments to your post. My ex told everyone our divorce was "my fault" but I had gotten to the point that I just didn't care anymore about his opinion or why he was always so angry at me. Additionally, I took a hard look at myself and I had to decide if I was going to live this way for the rest of my life and I decided there was no way I was going to and I moved out and made him file for divorce.
It was really empowering when I stopped participating in the abuse.