The post is about Patricia Evans's model of verbal abuse. I don't care for the "oh, poor me" tone of much of Evan's writing, and how she demonizes the abuser.
On the other hand, my mother (in particular) used a lot of the strategies Evans outlines. I would have been better off if I'd learned to recognize and counter them earlier.
Are you an abuser? Are you abused? These two online quizzes are an outgrowth of the "abuse industry". Although I don't agree with the "poor victim" mentality that this author's work represents, I think she has performed a service by outlining things that happen--behaviors our conditioning encourages us to slough off, rather than confront. Herewith, a list:
The following are some of the forms of verbal abuse the author helps you recognize. (Her contention is that they are "methods of manipulating you for the purpose of establishing power over you". I would say, two have to tango on this one.
- refusing to speak to you, or to respond to a direct question. "The silent treatment"
- a countering of your ideas, feelings, and perceptions, even going so far as to refute what he misconstrues you to have said.
- trivializing or diminishing of you or something you hold dear.
- Blocking and diverting
- Cutting off your conversation, rapidly changing the subject. This puts a whole in your sense of self, and causes a slow leak.
- Accusation and blame
- generally involves misreresentations about your intentions, attitudes, and motives. The author states that accusation and blame is present in all verbally abusive relationships.
- Judging and criticizing
- Evaluation of your actions in a harsh way or misrepresentation of your actions, your personal qualities and performance
- Trivializing and undermining
- Related to discounting, above, but more focused: making light of your work, your efforts, your interests, or your concerns. Here, the person attempts to dilute meaning and value in your life. Undermining might occur when your partner laughs at you, for example, when you burn yourself cooking. It is also jokes at your expense. Undermining is occurring when you feel a "so-called joke" is mean rather than funny.
- Name calling
- At any time a person calls you an offensive name, it is abusive. You have the right to refuse to consider it a joke.
- Habitually demanding that you to do something, rather than asking, or making decisions for you or for the two of you without your input, reduces you to an inferior status.
- Forgetting and denial
- If you partner uses the phrase "oh, I forgot" to deflect criticism, you are being manipulated. Denial is "I can't help it" or "it's not my problem" or "it didn't happen." Forgetting is a form of denial that shifts all responsibility from the abuser to some "weakness of mind."
- Abusive anger
- Over-the-top, manipulative anger, or habitual anger. The occasional outburst is one thing, but if you worry regularly about the possibliltiy that your partner will "blow up," to dominate, to control, to go one up, and to put down. Any time you are snapped at or yelled at, you are being abused.
- Physical threats and sexual threats aside, verbal threats are an effort at manipulation. For example, a threat to leave, stay out all night, or take you home immediately is a manipulation for power. The threat of "pending disaster" is designed to shatter the partner's serenity as well as her boundaries.
If you hear statements such as, "You're going into one of your tirades again," or "You're much too sensitive," or "You're just trying to start a fight" or "You don't have a sense of humor", your partner is not evading responsiblity and diminishing you so as not to hear you.
If you are in a brand-new relationship and see warning signs of verbal abuse, the author suggests you might be wise to let the relationship go. It is not likely that a man (woman) who needs to dominate and control will change easily, if at all.
It is also likely that when the newness of the relationship wears off, he will become more abusive. Verbal abuse can become physical in time and physical abuse is always preceded by verbal abuse, according to Evans.
If you are in a long-term relationship, you can respond to the abuser as the book suggests and soon discover for yourself whether or not your mate is willing to change and stop his abusive behavior.
The author writes, "If you have been verbally abused in your relationship, you may have discovered that explaining and trying to understand have not improved your relationship. Therefore, I recommend that you respond in a new way--a way that will make an emotional, psychological, and intellectual impact upon your mate."
The abuser in your relationship may change when he finds that you do know when you are being abused, that you have set limits, that you mean what you say, and that you will not take behavior you don't like.
If the man in your relationship remains abusive, it is not only not your fault, it is not even your responsibility.
The book tells you how to counter verbal abuse to see if your partner is willing to change. The author writes that you will know about that willingness within a month or two because he will either have stopped abusing you or he will be continuing to abuse you.
She writes, "If he is deeply concerned about you and cares about your well-being and if he wants a healthy relationship with you, you may see results in the first week."
The book also has a good chapter on recovery from verbal abuse.
Whether you are a victim of verbal abuse or the abuser, this book will give you true insights into the underlying dynamics of the verbally abusive relationship. If you are a single person, it will help keep you out of a (another) abusive relationship.
Although Evans primarily addresses verbal abuse of women, she states that much of the book applies to men, too.