Accepting Verbal Abuse as Truth

January 30, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

In the beginning, he told me stories about the hardships he'd endured, and I thought I could be the one to show him what happiness felt like; I thought I could coax his mind away from the anger he held and fill his heart with love despite the pain he felt inside. I wanted him to have brightness and beauty in his life to rival the heartbreak and anger. I never thought I would become the source of his anger, the reason for his pain, or hated.heartrate

I Changed My Behavior

In an effort to ease some of his anger, I altered my behavior. I rationalized it by thinking he was trying to protect me when he told me to "Stop touching people when you talk - they are getting the wrong idea." I became ashamed of being a female in uniform when he'd say, "Military women are whores - not you - but they're whores, and everyone knows it."

I became hyper-vigilant and fearful of going to work when he started calling me one of the few names he ever called me, "Whore!" I knew it wasn't true, but I thought I must be doing something wrong for him to call me such an ugly word.

I decided that if he could see my heart for its goodness and flaws, then he would see me and the truth would ease his mind. I loved him despite his mistaken perceptions, so I opened up to him more deeply. I expected that he would do the same, but asking him to move into a deeper realm of intimacy was like begging a brick wall to speak.

He Never Changed

His stories never changed, new ones never added. He'd refer back to his formative stories to explain why he was "right" or simply repeat the same old tale to me as if I'd never heard it before. When I tried to talk of feelings I presently held or indicate that my thoughts were changing, he'd shut me down quickly by referring to a point in the past and indicating that I was either making a mistake or didn't understand the reality of the situation ( “Don’t you ever learn?!”). I loved him; I believed he held my best interests at heart, so I listened.

During these early days, I didn't think that I'd already heard his whole story. I thought there was more to come. I fought to bring him closer. I tried so hard to provide an environment for intimacy that I became willing to overlook his lack of participation. I'd exit an "intimate" conversation feeling like someone had rolled me through the wringer of an old washing machine.

I Traded My Voice for His

Although I offered up pieces of myself, he hadn't reciprocated. It felt like he shared something with me because he had taken the opportunity to judge and blame me, implant seeds of doubt in my mind, or gently insist that I was making a mountain out of mole-hill. Usually, he did this in a loving tone.

In the process of turning myself over to him, I collapsed inside; my own voice became tiny and annoying. I handed my power over to him on a trusting platter. I came to believe he knew me better than I knew myself, when in reality, he didn’t know me at all. He only knew who he wanted me to be.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, January 30). Accepting Verbal Abuse as Truth, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

July, 7 2011 at 1:48 am

Kellie, I understand completely what you are saying I am in that place too. Sadly those who have not experienced abuse simply do not have the wherewithal to comprehend. Don't be angry with them, it's not their fault. I hope you find strength and peace.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
July, 7 2011 at 1:42 pm

You're right, emmaq. I was angry when I started writing. One day I hope to be free of the rage I feel toward HIM so it doesn't spill out onto anyone else. I'm angry with HIM for seeing me as nothing more than an object, a thing he wanted to check off his list (WIFE? Check!) and then forget about.
Like I've said before, once the abuse was out in the open and I knew the truth, there was no putting that genie back in the bottle. I so badly want others to understand the dynamics at play in abusive relationships that when I fail to communicate the message, I get angry at myself.

January, 31 2011 at 5:12 pm

:'( it is really sad to hear your story, all I can say is that a relationship is a two way process.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 1 2011 at 2:15 am

"...all I can say is that a relationship is a two way process." Really? Do you think I should take responsibility for HIS behavior, too?
I refuse to take responsibility for his words and actions in addition to my own. As soon as I began refusing to take responsibility for:
HIS anger,
HIS unhappiness,
HIS chauvinism,
HIS prejudices,
HIS thoughts, feelings, and actions,
and refused to believe that I had the power to "MAKE" him behave in any certain way,
then I was able to see my self as a separate person from him and
took responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings,
cared for my self and did what was good for me instead of what I thought was good for HIM,
and began acting in ways that were healthy for me (refusing to argue nonsense, refusing to accept his words for me, refusing to act out in ways such as yelling and crying that invited further abuses,...)
then HE threw a fit and escalated the emotional, mental and verbal abuse to the point of physical violence in an attempt to regain control of me.
A control connection is not a relationship. A relationship is a two-way street when two people "relate" with one another and peacefully accept that they will not always be of one mind, not when one person wants communication while the other wants control. I left my marriage when I realized that there was no relationship, only a connection between the two of us traveling the one-way streets intersecting at Control and Pain.
I can only control ME, and my marriage would not work after I refused to let him control me.

Angela McClanahan
January, 30 2011 at 3:29 pm

I hate reading your blog. It's too much like a trip down my very own Memory Lane. That said, I am so, so grateful to you for bringing it to life. So many people in this situation (myself included) don't think it can POSSIBLY be "abuse" if you don't have marks, haven't had to go to the ER, and haven't taken out a restraining order. My own mother said to me once (although not about my abuser) "he's got a good job and he doesn't hit you, what more do you want?" With that sort of message being pounded into our heads, it's a miracle any of us get out alive.

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