You know how stupid you are? You’re so (expletive of choice) stupid that you can’t even answer the question. Airhead. Oh, you’re going to cry again? Just do what I want, OK, and I won’t say another word? Do NOT tell me what you think. I don’t give a *&^# about your feelings. You’re upset that I didn’t tell you something again? Boo hoo. You wouldn’t have remembered if I had told you. Hey, don’t you threaten me that other people would treat you better. You wanna leave? You dumb cluck, you wouldn’t know how to find the car keys or a subway train. I can just see people reacting to you saying “How do I go uptown? Do you know where I could find an information booth?” They’d laugh, you’re so stupid. Wanna know why I’m broke and always in some kind of trouble? YOU! You mess me up so bad you *&^%$!!!
Wikipedia’s succinct description of verbal abuse captures the problem: “Verbal abuse (verbal attack or verbal assault) is when a person forcefully criticizes, insults, or denounces someone else. Characterized by underlying anger and hostility, it is a destructive form of communication intended to harm the self-concept of the other person and produce negative emotions.”
A vicious problem intended to undermine the victim, to render them helpless so that the abuser remains in the role of master manipulator, verbal abuse destroys a sense of self, self-confidence and clear thinking. It is a form of violence. That negativity lets the abuser control the victim. They support their sense of self by destroying someone else’s.
Recovering from the assault on your very identity can be a painful but rewarding process. You and your therapist will need to explore how and why you ended up verbally abused, and how to recover from it. You might cry, realize how much worse things were than you’d realized, and what you could have done to minimize or to end the problem but didn’t take the necessary action(s). That insight enables you to get rid of the residual sadness and anger in your soul. Cry it out, and let it go, never to harm you again. Along the way, you’ll take pride in the protective or assertive things you did do. You and your therapist can celebrate the realities. As time and therapy progress, your sense of self will strengthen. You will gain the skills for preventing the problem and learn what to do when someone tries to cause it. That way, your Ex or other abuser won’t be able to leave you helpless again. Yes, you’ll feel the pain of being held I contempt, that’s normal, but you won’t despise yourself or stick around for more mistreatment.
There are supportive groups to join such as Recovery International, books to read such as Waking the Tiger and exercises to reinforce a verbally abused person’s self-respect. You can discuss all of that with your therapist and the people who support your efforts to live without verbal abuse.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.