There are two sides of the abuse that I experienced as a child. The first is the verbal abuse which started before the (second) physical abuse. I’ve touched on the physical abuse in previous posts but haven’t discussed much of the verbal abuse. In the book that I am reading now, I am hoping to share some of this with you and maybe, this might help some of you too.
The book I am reading is titled Victory Over Verbal Abuse subtitled A Healing Guide to Renewing Your Spirit and Reclaiming Your Life. The author is Patricia Evans and copyright date is 2012 from Adams Media. I am in no way trying to plagiarize the contents of the book. I am only keeping track of the information that I want to retain and to share the information that I think might benefit someone else. If you wish to read this book for yourself, you might be able to locate a copy at your local library or you can order it from any number of sources online. I believe that Amazon.com has a paperback copy priced at $10.85 or if you are part of the modern world, a kindle version for $8.77.
The book is divided into two parts. Part 1: Recovery from Verbal Abuse which has six chapters.
Chapter 1: Validation
Control Through Verbal Abuse: Verbal abuse is an attempt to control you… Those targeted by verbal abuse can become confused, adapted to the abuse, and brainwashed while their spirit and sense of self are eroded. (Evans, 2012, pg. 4)
Recovery Through Validation: The book defines validation as the name for her or his experience and the reason they didn’t realize what was happening to them. The section states that the pain from verbal abuse has two parts. 1.) The loss of what you thought your abuser was and 2.) the feelings of betrayal and shock that this could happen to you. (Evans, 2012, pg. 6)
So, in my particular case, most of the physical and verbal abuse that I experience came (mostly) from my step-father whom had been part of my life since the age of three years. When I turned ten, my sister was born and I was no longer treated as a daughter but as the proverbial ‘red headed step-child’ and all that the stereotype entails. In my eyes, I lost a dad and gained an abuser though I believe that his abusive nature was always under the surface in the beginning. With this change, I did feel betrayal and constantly wondered what I had done to deserve it.
A following paragraph states:
… even though friends or relatives of your abuser did not see the abuse, nor even believe your experience… (Evans, 2012, pg. 6)
My mother, to this day, doesn’t believe the stories that I have tried to share with her. I guess that her self-preservation in being a good mom was pretending that she didn’t see the abuse and now that I am grown up, still denies that it ever happened.
You May Feel Brainwashed: The verbal abuser tells you what your motives, thoughts, and feelings are, as if he or she were you… Following are some of the feelings people have had when they were in a relationship with a person who verbally abused them. If you recognize these feelings, your feelings are validating you.
1.) You may have been told that you are not who you have known yourself to be. 2.) You may have begun to feel guilty, especially if you received constant criticism or correction that implied that you should do better, just don’t measure up, aren’t good enough, or aren’t smart enough. 3.) You may have begun to believe that the negative, demeaning, or critical comments the abuser made about you were true. This is called Internalizing. 4.) Eventually, if you were abused over time, you may have sought relief from your confusion, lost identity, and feelings of unworthiness by trying harder to please, to comply with the abuser and mainly to adopt the abuser’s view of you. You may have come close to losing your SELF. (Evans, 2012, pg. 7-8)
I was told that I was fat and ugly regularly by Jack A. and it’s true that when you have been told something for so long, you eventually believe it. I never measured up to Jack A.’s standards. NEVER. I even remember a time when I was in a competition, my mother came to see me for the first time. When the competition was over, I had lost but was looking for words of encouragement and instead I was told “I don’t know why I even came. You didn’t even win.” I never asked for her to come and watch me play again. I remember being very artistic and creative in my early years but as I got older, that part of me died and I’m just now trying to rekindle that interest.
You May Feel Betrayed: Verbal abuse lies to you… Further validation comes with knowing that verbal abuse is not only a lie told to you about you, it may also be a lie told to others about you. And conversely, a lie told to you about others. (Evans, 2012, pg. 8)
You May Feel That It’s Somehow Your Fault – Abuse Internalized: Recovery from verbal abuse takes longer because verbal abuse is about the erasure of mind, and ultimately the destruction of consciousness… when people hear verbal abuse – orders, criticism, or angry outbursts – directed at them from someone they trust… they may, overtime, begin to believe what they are told. (Evans, 2012, pg. 9-10)
I’ve known for a long time that the abuse I experienced wasn’t because of anything I had done or that I wasn’t good enough… but there are times that I catch myself in mid-thought that if I had only paid more attention to my chores, done what I was asked when I was asked to do it, or made better grades that the bad things wouldn’t have happened. It’s hard to erase these feelings or even come to terms with them. This is what I hope to accomplish with this book.
You May Feel Afraid of Your Abuser: If you are around someone you fear because they are periodically out of control, threatens your life, hits, pushes, grabs or shoves you, blocks your escape, falsely imprisons you, demonstrates violence, harms or threatens to harm your child, don’t try to get your abuser to see what they are doing, or explain to them what is bothering you… Recovery takes time but once you are safe from contact with the abuser, focus on your success and how strong you can be in your stand against abuse. You will have the knowledge to help others. (Evans, 2012, pg. 11)
I hope that if I can get enough people to read my blog and listen to my history, that it will help them to get out of the abuse they are experiencing. I had one councilor that listened to me cry about the abuse… she didn’t turn my step-father in because I begged her not to. Jack A. had told me on several occasions when I had gotten the courage to stand against him, that if CPS (Child Protective Services) got involved I would end up in foster car in worse situations than what he allowed me to have… that my sister would be taken away and I would never see her again. I wish she had turned him in against my request. My mother should never have had children and there are times when the bad memories surface and I wish that I didn’t have to survive the childhood I lived… that I never existed.
An Awful Feeling – What is it?: ***I have to adjust this section a bit because it discusses male and female relationships, not parent child relationships but it’s still applicable to my situation.*** People in abusive relationships sometimes have a feeling that immobilizes them. It’s an awful feeling that something terrible would befall them. (Evans, 2012, pg. 12)
From what Evans discusses in the book, this feeling can occur at different times. If you used a scale from 1 through 5 to describe the level of feeling it would look something like this: 1 = Slight; 2 = Slight +; 3 = Medium; 4 = Medium +; 5 = Too horrible to think about. Here are some examples. Talking to my councilor about my home situation caused a medium amount of stress, mostly from fear of being caught. Running away from home would have been too horrible to think about because of how completely I feared my step-father. Though, at seventeen I did ‘run away’ but this occurred after I had moved out of the house with parental consent. I will eventually share this story but am not ready as of yet to do so.
Naming the Awful Feeling: What is dread? It is a feeling that you will experience some unknown and unnamed doom if you proceed. People who experience dread feel a terror or overwhelming fear of what might happen if they do what they were thinking of doing, or if they actually do it despite feeling that something bad will happen to them. (Evans, 2012, pg. 13)
The book goes on to state (in my own words) that because of the oppression and its length, the feeling of dread comes about because the abused act on their own behalf, without permission of the abuser. Had my step-father found out about me talking to the councilor, I can’t even begin to describe the punishment he would have saw fit to give me. The very idea causes me to shake even now as I am typing this blog entry. This theory elicits two concepts. The first that you are not to act without permission from your abuser and the second that acting on your own accord, will bring you harm.
Five Steps to Overcoming the Awful Feeling: If you have felt dread when acting on your own behalf without permission… these steps may help you to overcome it. 1.) Know the feeling of dread comes from one or both of the concepts above. 2.) Talk to yourself in a positive way. 3.) Look for support from people who are really there for you. 4.) Notice that the feeling fades away and over time ceases to reappear. 5.) Notice that no doom befalls you. (Evans, 2012, pg. 14-15)
My husband (the wonderful man that he is) tells me that I don’t have to ask permission when I want to do something… that he’s not my boss but me asking is a really hard habit to break. He has never once tried to control what I do, say, or how I act and has been the first person in my life that I felt I could trust. Despite all of these good things, I still ask.
Coping With a Verbal Abuser: … constantly remind yourself that the negative, abusive statements are simply the lies that bullies indulge in – pretend talk – by someone who seeks to silence you, their target, so they can seemingly continue to pretend to be God, to know what you want, think, and are trying to do. Armed with knowledge, you won’t be in a fog, and you won’t wonder if you are crazy. (Evans, 2012, pg. 15)
I wish that I could go back in time and change so many things, but most of all, I would love to be able to instill the maturity that I have now to make my childhood self understand the flawed character of my step-father. Even if it’s just to ease the self-blame. The next section of this chapter, I have found rather interesting.
If You Feel Powerless: Verbal abuse is traumatizing; however, when you know that it is irrational nonsense and that there is something you can do, it may be less traumatizing… When considering the toxicity of verbal abuse, it’s not the snake bite (the hostility of the attack). It’s the venom! The venom is in the nonsensical statement. It can permeate your psyche if you try to make sense of it or explain to the abuser why it is wrong. The bite (the fact that the abuser attacked) faces like a bruise, but the venom can permeate your mind and soul… Recovery is all about dissolving the influence of negative comments and demeaning treatment as well as the underlying, and sometimes unrecognized, feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and low self-esteem that such treatment generates. And it is about discovering and using your gifts. (Evans, 2012, pg. 16-17)
Being a kid I really did feel powerless, like there wasn’t anything that could be done. Now, in my maturity, I know that there were things that I could have done.
I have come to the conclusion of part one. I will start on part two as soon as humanly possible but in the meantime, I welcome thoughts or comments regarding this entry. Please share my blog with people that you feel might benefit from the information it contains. I know some of my readers may not read this whole entry but if you did, thank you!