Recognizing verbal abuse is emotionally painful. It has to do with loss—the loss of illusion—and it is hurtful to the spirit. If you suffer from verbal abuse in your relationship, or suspect that you do, these are some steps you can take:
- Start setting limits.. Setting a limit is stating “I will not accept…” When you set such limits you speak from your own personal power, and you speak for the spirit of life at your center. This means that you must decide what you will and will not accept in your relationship.
- Call the abuser on every offense. Once you have determined your limits, you reinforce them by calling a halt to every bit of abuse you encounter. Your response will give your mate the clear message that you mean what you say—and you will not tolerate any abuse.
- Respond with a tone of authority and firmness that shows that you are serious. Say “Stop accusing and blaming (or judging or criticizing) me right now! Stop it!” or “Don’t talk to me like that.” Other statements you may find useful: “Cut it out!” “Stop judging me!” “Please keep your comments to yourself” “Mind your own business, please.” “Don’t ever, ever, call me names!” “I do not follow orders!” “What you are saying to me is hurtful and abusive, and it is undermining my love and trust for you.” “You may not raise your voice to me.” “I don’t like that tone of voice.” “Stop! Take a deep breath and please talk nicely to me.”
- Know your basic relationship rights. Those rights are: To be responded to with courtesy; to have your own viewpoint (even if your opinion differs from your mate); to live free from accusation, blame, criticism and judgment; to live free from emotional and physical threat; to live free from angry outbursts and rage; to be called by no name that devalues you, and to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.
- Be aware that you can leave any abusive situation. Carry enough money with you so that you can pay for transportation home from wherever you are. Carry your personal phonebook with you so that you have the numbers of friends if you need to call someone. Keep a bag packed in your car, or in a safe and easily available place so that you can escape if your mate begins to get abusive. Plan ahead where (and how) you will go if you need to leave your residence.
- Ask for changes that you want in your relationship. These may include negotiations for how much time you need to yourself; when time will be set aside to discuss issues in the relationship, and so on.
- Get professional help.
- There is nothing you can say or do to change another person. If your mate won’t change, you may need to consider ending the relationship.
If possible, solve the problem before it starts. The best way to avoid verbal abuse in a relationship is to avoid a relationship with him/her in the first place. These ideas were taken from Patricia Evan’s book The Verbally Abusive Relationship (Bob Adams, Inc.)