Naturally, every victim of verbal abuse has their unique story. While some circumstances may be similar, each person's healing journey will take its own path and timeline. For myself, it took many years before I was ready to face my past and deal with it to begin healing. As I continue my journey, I have met and spent time with many other survivors, all who were at different phases of their healing.
Healing After Abuse
For those who know me best, I have a strong desire to take responsibility for many things. From making sure everything with a friendly gathering goes exactly as I planned to the time the kids need picking up from their activities. My spouse is no stranger to my anxiety-driven internal scheduler, whom he refers to as my need to control everything. As a victim of verbal abuse, has my anxiety turned into attempts to control everything?
As a victim of verbal abuse, I know how challenging it can be to maintain a continuous fight, flight, or freeze mode daily. Consequently, even after leaving an abusive situation, my brain and body remained in that familiar state. Therefore, as I moved through therapy, one of the methods presented to me was to take a break from absolutely everything. Thankfully, with intensive therapy and the support of friends and loved ones, I found that taking these periodic breaks from my daily routine was beneficial for my healing.
One common trait of abuse victims I've noticed is their resiliency. I found that through the years, I perfected being self-sufficient. This admirable attribute is not as terrific as some may believe, however. My ability to tackle struggles on my own without asking for help is a negative side effect of years of abuse.
Verbal abuse victims can have a negative inner dialog that will haunt them during abuse and long afterward. These prevalent thoughts are not theirs but come from their abusers and continue to destroy their self-esteem even as adults. My situation is challenging since I can still hear the negative words from my childhood, but they also correlate with verbal abuse from adult relationships. For myself, having similar experiences as a child and an adult reinforced the fact that I am not worthy and cannot make the best decisions or do the right things.
Have you ever wondered why you constantly have bad relationships or attract the wrong type of people who exhibit abusive behaviors? For years, I thought there must be something wrong with me, and those were the only kind of partners that wanted me or that I could have. However, after years of therapy and some self-exploration, I've realized that even though abusive partners should not abuse, part of the problem was my choices at the beginning of the relationship.
Not everyone will understand your experience with abuse or your process when you begin to heal. Of course, there will constantly be varying sides, but learning how to live with being okay with their opinions can be challenging. For example, not everyone agreed with my healing process or how I began to talk about my past trauma and my journey for better wellbeing. These opposing sides have been extremely difficult for me to deal with and accept over the last few years.
The recent Oscar scene where Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith resulting in Will Smith slapping him on television has brought up controversy regarding jokes and abuse. Although we may never know the background or extent of history between these two people, it brings this question to light. Is making jokes considered verbal abuse?
It is no surprise that I regularly see therapists that help me deal with my past and present. I know now that this can help my future as I continue to heal and move forward into a life that I want and need. However, there were years when I was reluctant to seek therapy for many reasons and constantly lived in a state of anxiety and depression without therapy.
Breaking the cycle of verbal abuse takes time, patience, and self-compassion. No one is perfect when it comes to relationships, and more often than I care to admit, I have spoken words I should not have, with the intent of hurting someone. It is behavior that I am not proud of or wish to continue. Each day, I hope that I will not fall back into old but familiar abusive habits that come too easily when facing difficult situations.