The Verbally Abusive Man

Closeup of an angry teen with his arm raised to strike

Maybe you are reading this article because you are tired of being mistreated by your partner, who seems to go out of his way to leave you feeling angry, frightened, humiliated or depressed. If this is the case, then this article is intended for you. If you are a family member or a friend of the concerned party, this article will require brutal honesty about their situation, for what follows is intended for you as well.

  • When being in love means putting up with his relentless name-calling, you are involved with the verbally abusive man.
  • When most of your comments are edited, in fear of how he might respond, you are involved with the verbally abusive man.
  • When you excuse his erratic temper, permit his put-downs, or endure his version of the “silent treatment”, you are involved with the verbally abusive man.
  • When you believe that you can work with him to somehow change his behavior with the hope that he will treat you with respect, you are involved with the verbally abusive man.
  • When you have come to believe that you are truly all of the terrible things he has called you, including ugly, fat, selfish or stupid, you are involved with the verbally abusive man.
  • And when his name-calling has caused you to risk your emotional and physical health, or you have come to hate yourself, then you are absolutely involved with the verbally abusive man.

Before continuing further, let me state clearly that the act of verbal abuse is not confined to the males, as quite the opposite is true. In actuality anyone is capable of verbally abusing another, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or for that matter, the nature of the shared relationship. This means that a husband can verbally abuse his wife, a girlfriend can verbally abuse her boyfriend, or a significant other can verbally abuse his or her partner. It is perhaps for this reason alone that I consider the act of verbal abuse to be an equal opportunity destroyer – a destroyer of self-esteem, of inner happiness and most important, of ones own sense of self. Sadly however, women in particular seem to have born the brunt of this insidious form of mistreatment, most commonly at the hands of their male partners. This is in large part due to long lasting, albeit misguided societal norms that have relegated women into unfair subservient roles, which have allowed men to act out harmfully. And while times are changing, the issue continues to be lopsided.

Abuse in the prism of personal relationships can be a terrifying word. It whips up mental images of someone physically harming their defenseless victim in order to inflict maximum harm. In fact when heard in this context, we decisively shun it, turning our attention elsewhere and believe that, “It couldn’t possibly be happening to me.” But if you are truly honest about your situation – honest about the names you have been called, honest about the cruel way he treats you, then the word abuse will take on a whole new meaning.

After a period of time, persons involved with the verbally abusive man go on to develop a serious condition, which I have termed, “Verbal Abuse Syndrome”. Regardless of the nuances of their specific relational stories or whether their time spent with the loved one was long, short or ongoing, these victims share one common bond. Verbal abuse syndrome does not mean having a mental defect, or having a life threatening illness, or being infected with some viral microbe. It means, in reality, that being verbally abused over the course of time eventually begins to emotionally wear a person down, progressing to the point that the victim ultimately loses their self-esteem. It means that the person actually begins to believe that something is truly flawed with their individual character and that they are all of the horrible things that they have been called. It means living in total fear and acquiescing to a harmful partner’s’ brutal behavior. Finally, it means living with immense guilt and hates oneself.

So how do you know if you are suffering from verbal abuse syndrome? Consider the following twelve characteristics and compare them to your own situation.

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Down to earth and folksy, Dr. John Moore infuses current eventsand pop-culture into his posts as a way of communicating larger points on issues related to wellness and goal attainment. His work has been featured in nationally syndicated media, including Cosmo, Men's Fitness and CBS Market Watch. He is a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies and institutions of Higher Learning. Dr. Moore is author of Confusing Love with Obsession and founder of Chicago based 2nd Story Counseling.

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