Abusers who have not yet turned to physical violence could be “time bombs” with fuses of unknown length. If your abuser feels that his “normal” verbally abusive techniques are not working, he will probably move into physical abuse to maintain his control.
Abuse escalates over time. Time spent in abusive situations and relationships cause you to feel beaten down and devastated – but it is never too late to get help.
What could happen if I stay?
Remember that your abuser benefits from abusing you. S/He gets his way and lives the life he wants to live while you do everything in your power to “make them happy” at the expense of yourself.
Here are some possibilities of what can happen if you choose to stay with your abuser:
- S/He could escalate the abuse until he kills you,
- S/He could begin to physically abuse you,
- S/He could try new ways of abusing you (such as taking out credit in your name and destroying your credit history),
- S/He could continue the present cycle indefinitely, never escalating but never stopping the behavior,
- S/He could go into his temporary “nice” phase to lull you into false security and to make the next episode of abuse more effective,
- S/He could admit his problem and go get help for himself.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the last option is the MOST UNLIKELY. Think about it like this: What if you discovered that every time you picked your nose, someone gave you $50.00? No matter how distasteful you find the behavior of picking your nose, would you do it when you needed some money?
Well, it’s the same with an abuser. Every time he acts a certain way (whether he likes his behavior or not), you give him some sort of prize (cooperation, validation of his power, a feeling of importance, etc.). How likely is he to change his behavior?
Long-term Effects of Verbal Abuse on You
It’s good to know the dangers you face living with verbal abuse as it applies to his behavior. But how does verbal abuse mess with you in the long haul? What will you give up in response to the constant verbal, emotional and mental battery? YOU are not the problem, but ABUSE can cause you to suffer mental and emotional problems.
An abuser’s “crazy-making” can change you from a vibrant, independent person into a confused, paranoid, and hopeless pawn for his use. Your life disappears. You disappear.
If you’re lucky, at this point there’s nothing “wrong” with you except in the eyes of your abuser. But the long term effects of abuse cause mental and emotional issues that increase your confusion and lessen your resolve to be your true self. Abuse is designed to imprison you.
As you read this list of long-term effects of abuse on abuse victims, ask yourself “What have I sacrificed to tolerate abuse?!”
- Your doctor may diagnose you with depression and/or anxiety (even PTSD)
- You may feel trapped and in a constantly “on-guard” state of mind
- You may lose your spontaneity and/or enthusiasm
- You could become unsure of your ability to communicate effectively
- You may suffer the loss or shattering of dreams
- You may wish for death
- You could be preoccupied with hypothetical fears or “what-if” scenarios
- You could become unsure of your ability to understand effectively
- You may feel “crazy” or out of control
- Others may say you have low self-esteem; or, if you realize you’re losing self-esteem, you often don’t know why
- You could feel lost or experience thought-circles resulting in increased confusion
- You may find that you rely on another person to tell you what you “should” feel or do
- You could feel uneasy or even paranoid with no defined cause
- You may over-examine yourself wondering what you could have done, should have done, or will do instead in the future
- You may find that your internalized “critical voice” typically agrees with your abuser’s accusations
- You might feel that you are “missing something” or that time is passing too swiftly to accomplish your dreams or any goal
- You could find yourself waiting for some point in the future when “everything will be better” before you do things that you want to do (college? start a business? lose weight?)
- You may want to escape or run away but often don’t know why you want to go or what/who you want to escape from
- You may experience sleep disturbances
- You might put yourself down in conversations with family or friends (if you’re “allowed” to have friends)
- You may experience unexplained physical maladies; you fear that you’re a hypochondriac because your medical complaints cannot be verified by tests
So…What are you sacrificing to tolerate abuse?
(*”Long Term Effects” adapted from The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans and my personal experiences with verbal abuse.)