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Verbal Abuse in Relationships

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. 
Sometimes verbal abuse will come from within, even if an individual has grown in a positive environment with a loving, supportive family. For myself, even with a partner who has been terrific at providing everything I need in love and support, I still have that negative voice in my head that goes against everything he tells me.
Children are highly sensitive to their environment. I believe that a child's mental and physical health can be directly affected by their surroundings. Knowing this, we must do something to help children who are exposed to verbal abuse during this critical stage of their lives.
There are dozens of web pages and support services that you can find in every major city to help women dealing with verbal abuse. Unfortunately, the traditional female victim is a common scenario that many can empathize with, but it isn’t the only one. Boys and men are a large part of the unrepresented abuse victims in society today.
As a victim of verbal abuse, it can be challenging to look past the hurt and focus on the positive aspects, especially if you are in the thick of the situation. One way I found to help me heal and keep moving towards a more positive environment is to open communication about abuse with my loved ones and those around me.
I have continuously switched back and forth from being medicated to trying life on my own, with varying results due to depression and anxiety from abuse. While some days are better than others, one prominent element in my life has made it clear; psychiatric medication helps me. However, this may not always be the case with some individuals. For many years, doctors prescribed me psychiatric medication that did not help but also worsened my anxiety and depression symptoms. Thankfully, I have found a balance and a workable solution despite my reluctance to take psychiatric medication.
It can be extremely tough to talk about mental illness, especially for individuals who suffered abuse and self-stigma, who may not feel comfortable being vulnerable. When you start the conversation about emotional wellbeing and mental health treatments, unfortunately, many individuals still prefer to avoid the subject entirely. Being open and honest with others outside of my close circle about my mental health is still a struggle for me most days.
Mainstream media is slowly changing to be more inclusive of many aspects of life. You can find more television shows and movies that include people with disabilities. There is an increase of coverage with sensitive topics, including suicide, mental health, and abuse. For example, "Maid" shows the kinds of abuse that can go undetected, opening eyes to the real definition of abuse. Unfortunately, it is just the beginning. There is so much more ground to cover before society gets to the point that we need to be at with empathy and acceptance.