A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Real Life Examples of Verbal Abuse

1. Belittling sarcasm, male privilege, verbal abuse disguised as a joke and played to an audience

I was at a home decor store the other day and there was this 50 something year old man wearing golf clothes holding two metal post things that you’d hang planters on. His wife and either her mom or his mom – a woman so old and frail she could’ve been Methuselah’s grandma, were trying with all their might to get this giant box off a shelf that was too high for them. The golf guy who, judging by his clothes and his tan, wanted everyone to at least THINK he’s athletic was standing by the entrance to the checkout lane watching them, with the poles leaning on his shoulder, and he called out “Some time this century ladies!”

I looked at him, then looked at two ladies, looked back and asked, “Are you talking to THEM?”

He repeated his rude remark and added that the poles were heavy. Then he strolled over to them, leaned the “heavy” poles on Granny Methuselah. To my great surprise she didn’t crumple under the burden. He got the giant box the last part of the way into the cart. I informed him as calmly as I could muster that they had worked VERY hard to try to get that box down.

Then with the “heavy” poles leaning on Granny Methuselah, he proceeded to fiddle with a wheel on a fountain he picked up from a nearby shelf. He turned it over, read the label, looked for others like it so he could figure out what powered it, and so on. I was boiling. I thought of so many things to say. “So the poles are so heavy that the Tiger Woods wannabe complains, but they are okay for grandma to hold up while you tinker with a tacky fountain?”

But I know that he would only take it out on wife and grandma. He won’t get it. He will only punish others in a fit of shame dumping. Knowing that helped to restrain me. I didn’t want them to have to pay for my sassing him about his disrespectful behavior.

2. Countering

According to Patricia Evans, author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship,

countering is the dominant response of some verbal abusers.  He sees his partner as an adversary.  How dare she have a different view from his?  If she sees things differently, he may feel he is losing control and dominance of her.  Consequently he may choose to argue against her thoughts, her perceptions, or her experience of life itself.  As a category of verbal abuse, countering is one of the most destructive to a relationship because it prevents all possibility of discussion, it consistently denies the victim’s reality and it prevents the partner from knowing what her mate thinks about anything.

The other day I helped with a volunteer project. A friend and some strangers were assembling some equipment for a local charity organization. There was a little ramp thing for a wheelchair. My friend noticed that one side is textured and the other isn’t. So she pointed out to this fellow volunteer, a guy I don’t know, “That should go with the texture part up so wheelchairs can get traction.” The guy replied that the wheelchairs don’t need traction but the kids walking up the ramp do. So he was going to do what she said, but not for WHY she said it.

I caught her eye and remarked, “I heard it. That’s called countering.” We left him to assemble it his way for his reasons. My friend is older and wiser than me. She commented that he’s the kind of guy who has to be right and can’t let others think THEY are right, only him. I learn from watching these folks.

An example of what respect looks like

Contrast these two interactions with what I saw between with my pastor who was injured recently and his wife.

Pastor was standing up front getting ready to hold one of the elements of the Lord’s Supper. His wife noticed that he was in a spot that would put strain on his injury because he’d have to hold the wine/juice which is the heavier of the two elements. She made a little motion with her hands. Pastor grinned and nodded. He moved to the bread-holder spot and no one ended up wearing the wine that he doesn’t currently have the strength to hold up. Pastor’s wife offered her input out of love and concern. Pastor received it that way and was grateful. And I am privileged to worship alongside folks who treat each other with respect.

39 Comments

  1. Overcomer

    My faux (now ex) husband would use countering all the time. If I said the gas prices were lowering, he would say they were not. In a very demeaning, argumentative way. The last time I checked 3.50 was less than 3.75. But it is not getting lower. All in front of my daughter who thinks this type of talk toward your spouse is normal. Very damaging.

  2. StrongerNow

    Even when we were “getting along” in between abusive outbursts, this was my constant, day-in-and-day-out experience. NOTHING I said was EVER right or true. The level of vitriol would vary according to where we were that day on the cycle of abuse, but no matter what, my opinions and wishes were always wrong. Anytime he would ask my opinion about anything, it was a no-win situation. I would have to somehow discern what he wanted to hear and parrot that, or else. Any independent thought was shot down as stupid, ridiculous, idiotic, or moronic. And yet, often he would adopt that very idea as his own some time later, and never mention the fact that it was my idea in the first place. I could NEVER be right.

    • Sunflower

      My x, in a weak moment, said, “S…. , don’t you know you’re ALWAYS wrong?” If, a few days later, I would have reminded him of saying that, he would have denied that he said it, “What?? I would NEVER say something like that!” You’re right, it was all the time. I finally took to reverse psychology when something was important enough to me, and it worked every time. I pretended I wanted the opposite of what I did want, and he would fall for it. I felt deceptive doing it, so I did not do it often, but, desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

      By the way, on my FB page, since the supreme court ruling on Friday, people are all over saying, “The Bible doesn’t say that being gay is sin, but it does say that divorce is sin, so half the Christians are sinning……” Funny how so many people who never read the Bible suddenly know just what God is thinking.

      • X repeatedly told me that I am always wrong and he is always right. He’s wrong.

  3. Brenda R

    I feel especially bad for either of the 2 ladies that had the misfortune of having a relationship with Mr. Golfer guy. It is truly sad. The xh would have done many ridiculous things under both categories with an emphasis on belittling sarcasm and verbal abuse disguised as a joke. I absolutely hate the words: “I was only joking”. There is scripture that opposes this type of behavior.

    Ellie, I so love your pastor and his wife. Her offering him the help he needed and him gratefully accepting is awesome. True love and respect….a tiny glimpse of it, goes straight to my heart. It does exist!!

    I have a date for July 4. I haven’t dated in countless years. I hope I don’t run to a nearby ladies room to cry. I don’t know where he is taking me yet, but when I do, I will want to know all of the escape routes.

    • Seeing Clearly

      Thank you, Brenda R, for sharing yourJuly 4 calendar with us. Isn’t it also called Independence Day? You are as well prepared as you could possibly be. May it be a time of mutual respect, and a time for you to see yourself interacting only at the level that you choose. Enjoy!

      • Brenda R

        Carol,
        Thank you!! It didn’t occur to me the symbolism of my first date being on Independence Day (July 4). I will try to keep that thought in my head and less concentration on the butterflies in my stomach.
        Brenda

  4. Annie

    Thank you for this post!

    Reading real life examples helps me believe that this is really happening to me and not my imagination.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think most of my family would think that examples given of verbal abuse are that significant. If I complained about my husband’s verbal abuse they would say to ignore it or let it go. Because any one particular incident can sound like I’m just complaining about some random behavior. They don’t get it’s a pattern. I don’t think most people think verbal abuse is a big deal. It’s not physical. And I suspect that many think the wife is “causing” the verbal abuse. Too many people believe the myth that marriage problems are a 50/50 problem (both sides equally at fault). It’s not in an abusive marriage. Yes, I may do things “wrong” and may even hurt my husband occasionally but in a normal marriage the response to that is not abuse!

    My husband would say something like “Some time this century ladies!” and not offer to help and if I said anything back he’d either say he was joking and I need to get a sense of humor or he’d persist in the comments. Either way by the time we got home he’d make it clear I was a terrible person out to cause an argument and ruin a trip.

    So many times my husband disguised nasty comments to me as a “joke”. If I called him out on it he’d tell me to “get sense of humor”. When I stopped responding he stopped doing it as often. But he started it with the kids and I’ve had to begged them to not respond because that’s just fodder for his monologues on how mean I am and how I’ve trained the children to be mean to him.

    My husband’s sense of humor/teasing often has a “mean” edge to it that the children try to avoid. (Even his tickling hurts and he gets mad that none of the children want him to tickle them.)

    I, on the other hand, can get the children laughing and my husband will come into the room and make a nasty face and asked what am I doing to get the kids all riled up? Of course, we were having a good time and he couldn’t take that. Then he goes back to his tv and turns it way up to drown out our fun.

    I’d never heard of countering before. I need to get Patricia Evans book but my husband monitors MY credit card so I will have to wait until an opportunity to buy it with cash presents itself. I would say my husband EXCELLS in countering. It’s been constant almost since the day we were married. Before that never. After, every day. And he always manages to make it seem that I’m the one causing an argument. I only recently realized how reluctant I am to give my opinion to anyone on anything because I’ve been conditioned to expect a negative reaction. A few weeks ago I volunteered to help at an event and when I got home that night I was a nervous wreck. I finally realized it was because throughout the day when I had to tell people what they were supposed to be doing I expected them to get mad at me.

    My husband has taken countering to the extreme so much so that he will “counter” for years. Yes, years. I once told him he was doing something the wrong way and he did it that wrong way for years. I mean it’s amazing he could keep it up for so long. Then one day he just stopped. The kids know he does that too. Our town put up a sign in the park that said stop for pedestrians crossing the road (the single road in and out of the park). It’s not a stop sign but my husband stopped at it the first time. (I did it and saw others doing it until we realized it wasn’t an actual stop sign but a reminder — a sign with a tiny stop sign in the corner.) One of the children made the “mistake” of telling him it’s not a stop sign daddy, you don’t have to stop. So, yes, he now stops at it every time. The town has since put up similar signs around town where people typically cross and he does not stop at those!

    Beckyij, I could have written your post! Not only has been this my everyday experience, my husband would turn the most innocent of opinions or answers I stated into me being a terrible, awful person trying to cause a fight. I can’t tell you the hours I spent trying to figure out if I was causing arguments. And yes I’ve had the same experience of having him use my very thoughts as his own later and vehemently deny we’d ever discussed it.

    I will add my husband’s need for me to agree with him on everything has now been extended to him telling people things I’ve never said. He’s come home several times recently and told me that he told so-and-so that I said certain things. So far it’s been “positive” type things–like my favorite restaurants or some doctor I really like. It’s things I’ve never said. It’s weird he even tells me these lies. But such is his need to have me agree with everything he has to lie about it to others.

    Overcomer, I have had the same type of conversation with my husband so many times. And he always “wins” because he finds some clever way of twisting the words so he’s technically right. I can step out the door and say oh, it’s warmer than yesterday. And he will say no, it’s not and inform me today’s 79 and yesterday was 83. Then I’ll say it must be more humid than yesterday and that’s way it feels that way. So then of course, I get a lecture about humidity and temperature, yada, yada, yada. I have to say I was a slow learner because for a long time I actually thought we were having conversations then I learned we weren’t. Then I learned to let him go on and on and I’d say nothing because it was all about his enjoyment of hearing himself talk. I admit sometimes after such a long, long monologue I’d quip “That’s interesting but it still feels warmer to me.”

    I wish I’d caught on to this counter style years ago because for years I thought my husband didn’t understand. I would have found myself trying to explain to my husband why wheelchairs need the grippy side. So I’d try to be helpful like the pastor’s wife mentioned above. But my husband doesn’t want my help except when he does! LOL So if I help I’m wrong and if I don’t I’m wrong. After so many years, I don’t offer or volunteer unless it would seriously be unchristian to do so or would put anyone in harms’ way. Last summer the whole family was in the car and my husband was texting while driving. I saw the car in front of us stop and I yelled out to my husband. He hit the brakes and stopped just a few feet behind the car. Of course, I got yelled at because he was paying attention and when I yell out like that it distracts him! The children understood he’d put us all in danger. If there’d been an accident would he have learned his lesson? No. Because nothing is ever his fault. The Lord has laid an number of trials in his path and he has not responded to any of them. All of them are somebody else’s fault.

    I’m so thankful for this site. I’ve given up in ever having anyone in my life believe how awful verbal abuse is. But I can come here read and reread posts and know I’m not imagining it all.

    • Overcomer

      Hi Annie. Yes, countering is very real and it is evil. It effetively shuts down your own opinions and makes you feel like you are wrong about everything. And that story about the “almost car accident”, I am pretty sure that was an abuse move on his part. It is a way to instill fear and show agression covertly. My ex did this once, although he was not texting, he was just acting like he did not see the car in front of him stopped with brake lights. Our daughter was in the back seat. I yelled out to him to stop and he slammed on brakes. All intentional. It was at this point that he knew I was on to him, I had gone to the elders about his abuse, and he was trying to teach me a lesson. Lesson learned. I never rode in a car with him again after that.

      • what you h did in that ‘almost car accident’ — I have heard that kind of thing described as ‘demonstration violence’. It’s a powerful tactic for maintaining control. And the way your h did it gave him 100% plausible deniability. Ultra cunning.

      • Annie

        I’ve thought about your comment off and on since I read it in June. Until then I’d never considered his driving as another abuse technique. His driving anyway is terrible–I think mainly because he’s so self-centered he doesn’t really care about others on the road.

        I hate riding with him. I’m captive and he knows it. He doesn’t try to make me feel safe. Far from it. When I have no choice but to ride with him I spend most of it praying with my eyes closed. Now I realize he’s showing me he’s in control.

        Now I’m connecting the dots and realize all those incidents were abusive.

        Wow.

      • Yes Annie, quite often abusers use vehicles as weapons of abuse. I know one woman who told me that her abuser was at the wheel and she and their half a dozen kids were in the vehicle, and they were driving over a very big, high, long bridge at rush hour. Naturally every lane was packed and the traffic was all moving at the same speed. The abuser was ranting criticism at his wife and she was trying to rebut his garbage. To show her how much he didn’t like something she said, he braked to a sudden halt. You can imagine how she and the kids felt. Let alone the other drivers!

      • loves6

        My H has verbally abused me while driving in the car .. I will not drive with him alone. If I’m in the car with him I rarely speak.
        He also has driven like a absolute idiot when in a fit of jealous rage when a good friend of ours put his hand in my shoulder at church one day, I was emotionally upset at church and our friend was just comforting me. A total outrageous response.
        He has also braked hard to give me a fright.

      • KayE

        As the abuse escalated my ex would deliberately drive dangerously if he was annoyed with me, so I stopped going in the car with him. That didn’t stop him from purposefully backing the car towards me in the driveway. He denied that he did that, but next time said “Are you sure you want to stand there?”. I don’t think it was just a threat.

      • When I was in the driveway, my A-H would accelerate the car towards me and brake to a sudden halt about a metre short of hitting me. And said it was just a joke.

      • Brenda R

        How I hate the words, “it was just a joke”. I was never laughing after hearing them. The jokes were never funny and potentially dangerous or hurtful in other ways.

        My worst experience in a vehicle was my 1st a-h opening up the passenger door and trying to push me out because I asked him to slow down. He was exceeding the speed limit by 20 mph or so. I might have been 19 at the time so the memory has become more like a bad dream. At the time it was a nightmare. It was before seat belt laws. I’m not sure the car had any. I managed to get to the back seat where he couldn’t reach me. Only with the help of the Lord did I not die that night.

      • —- shiver —

      • KayE

        Not like 😦

    • Strongernow

      This reminds me of driving with my husband! Oh my goodness! If he was about to miss an exit on the highway because he wasn’t paying attention, and I mentioned to him that it was his exit, I was wrong for telling him something he already knew (even though he wasn’t slowing down or changing lanes) and if I kept my mouth shut and let him drive past it, I was wrong for NOT saying anything! When I told him I didn’t say anything because he got mad at me for saying something, he denied ever getting mad at me!

      If, as a second pair of eyes in the car, I pointed out someone who was coming up on his blind side in a parking lot, he would get mad at me for telling him how to drive. But if I didn’t, he would get mad at me for not warning him!

      ALWAYS wrong.

    • I need to get Patricia Evans book but my husband monitors MY credit card so I will have to wait until an opportunity to buy it with cash presents itself.

      Could you try to borrow it from your local library? If they don’t have a copy, ask them to get one in. 🙂

  5. My ex was so smooth in the grooming process. He was losing his touch in later years, possibly because with the help of Patricia Evans, I held my own a little more. Even before marriage, we had a silent agreement as follow. If I had an idea that I wanted to promote, I would state it, allow him to adjust it by 3 degrees so that he could own it. Then it had a remote possibility that it could be implemented. No arguing required, I intuitively knew I could never win. So began the stripping of my personhood, one quiet idea at a time.

    Of course, this is a very strong, covert type of abuse. And probably being a minister who has a career of masterful communication and up front presence kept his behavior under rap.

  6. 7stelle

    Once a woman has made the decision that she doesn’t want a relationship with a particular man, it needs to be said one time, explicitly.  Almost any contact after that rejection will be seen as negotiation.  If a woman tells a man over and over again that she doesn’t want to talk to him, that is talking to him, and every time she does it, she betrays her resolve in that matter.

    When I told a man I didn’t want to get married, after learning some important info after the engagement, he cried and said, “Well can we just be friends?” I said, “I don’t want to.” He continued to press me and I said I didn’t want to talk about it anymore right then (resolve in the midst of dissolving). I fell into the trap of allowing conversation after my “no”; 20 years of heartache has followed.

    • 7stelle 😦

      May I share this on FB? I wouldn’t link to your comment here, I’d just say ‘by a survivor’.

      • 7stelle

        Yes. I hope it helps someone .

      • 7stelle

        I forgot to put something in my original statement and which I think is important. The info I learned was not initiated by the man; I sensed something wasn’t right and confronted him.

  7. beckylovesthelight

    Ellie, this is such a helpful post. Hearing concrete examples is so helpful. Love this. In fact, I would love to see a recurring theme of posts like this!

  8. Anne

    Ellie, this was an extremely helpful post! I too would like to see more real life examples to help understand the dynamic of what is going on during interactions with the husband.

    When I read the one about “countering”, a light went on in my head and I heard BING, BING, BING!!!

    He does that to me all the time and it used to bring me to the point of tears … why is he treating me like an adversary?, I’d think. How can I make him understand what I’m saying in a non controversial way? What am I saying wrong, doing wrong to make him act this way?

    I am starting to understand that it is not me, but posts like this really help drive the point home, especially when I see these tactics have names and are pointed out in such a clear way by those who have experienced them as well.

    • “I’d think. How can I make him understand what I’m saying in a non controversial way?”

      Here’s what a counselor chanted at me:
      He’s not going to get it.
      HE’S not going to get it.
      He’s NOT going to get it.
      He’s not GOING to get it.
      and so on.

      And it took me a few days, but I finally got it. Nothing I can do will make him get it. He doesn’t want the responsibility. Without an act of God. HE WON’T GET IT!

      “What am I saying wrong, doing wrong to make him act this way?”

      Nothing. He acts that way because he wants to. The counselor told me that X would never be able to value me. That no matter what I do or say, he would despise me. It is my existence that he hates, not what I do, but that I am.

      • Brenda R

        Ellie,
        That should be a wall hanging. HE’S NOT GOING TO GET IT.

      • Anne

        “Nothing. He acts that way because he wants to. The counselor told me that X would never be able to value me. That no matter what I do or say, he would despise me. It is my existence that he hates, not what I do, but that I am.”

        Wow, just wow. You cut right to the heart of it. Thank you. No matter what husband actually says about me (usually when others are around to hear), his normal interactions with me show exactly what you quoted your counselor as saying.

        There is nothing I can do because it IS NOT ME! What a breakthrough that was to realize that. I still struggle with guilt and shame, but am realizing more and more how much false guilt I am carrying. My counselor is helping me with that.

        Just got out of a session and sitting here quietly in a little bistro thinking about what was said today while I have lunch. Counselor read from a book on self esteem, I can’t quote it as well as it was said, but she asked me what I thought God thought of me based on what he says about his sons and daughters in the Bible. Than she asked me what I thought of myself and why. As I put the two diametrically opposed viewpoints into words and struggled to articulate the “why”, it hit me, as I expect the counselor wanted it to … why am I letting the husband’s ideas of what I am worth define me over God’s??? (!!!)

        Another lightbulb moment 🙂

  9. Charis

    Yes, this was excellent. The examples listed – both in the article and from commenters – have seemingly been plucked from the truth of my own reality. I, too, found Patricia Evan’s book “The Verbally Abusive Man” helpful, especially her description and definition of countering and blocking. This was the arsenal from which my h chose his daily barrage of verbal/psychological/emotional assault.

    I will add this, too. As many have commented here: “I was ALWAYS wrong.” Yes. Me, too. And I particularly remember saying this to the senior elder as I was trying to describe for him the toxic environment and the many forms of abuse, manipulation and various tactics my h used. His response: “Now, now…let’s be careful about the words we use.” He was referencing primary grammar (Never, Always, etc). It sent me for a loop in the labyrinth as I struggled to rephrase my statement to be more…accurate. Yet there was a war inside me as I frantically tried to relive 9yrs of history and remain truthful. “Always” was the right word. How to reconcile this with proper grammar in front of my senior elder? I think I cleared my throat nervously, smiled and said, “As far as I can remember, nearly always.”

    I see now that my original assertion was correct. I was ALWAYS wrong. Always. And I know that to be true.

  10. Overcomer

    Barb, in response to:

    what you h did in that ‘almost car accident’ — I have heard that kind of thing described as ‘demonstration violence’. It’s a powerful tactic for maintaining control. And the way your h did it gave him 100% plausible deniability. Ultra cunning.

    Yes! Plausible deniability and ultra cunning. Two of his biggest tools in his arsenal of abuse tactics. When I realized that this “unassuming guy” I married was actually a slithering, cunning, snake, the reality of it was almost too much to bear. But the Lord mercifully, in increments, showed me what I was dealing with in him and VERY EARLY ON in that process, I knew I was going to leave him and divorce him. God made a way and I left almost a year ago. The divorce will be final in a couple of weeks. Praise God!!!

    • 7stelle

      Overcomer thank you for saying “unassuming”; that is a loaded description when dealing with an abuser despite how it is usually received. When we started going to a new church a woman came up to me and asked, “Is your husband usually this quiet?” I answered, “Kind of”; but I really wanted to say, “No, he is EVASIVE, he doesn’t want you to get close to him and see who he REALLY is.”

  11. Stillblessed

    Countering is a huge part of my h’s verbal abuse tactics. He doesn’t always use it, but when he does, it can be so severe that it’s impossible to hold a normal conversation because he will counter everything I say. I have finally begun to recognize it quickly, and in my mind can prepare for it, so it doesn’t snowball me like it used to. I used to try to understand why he was arguing with me, and what he was meaning; and I tried to get him to understand me. Yes, it almost always ended up in a fight, and I was the one to blame, or he would claim he was just ‘so confused’. I would spend hours afterwards, going over the conversation in my mind, trying to figure out what I had said wrong and how I could have worded it differently. Now that I recognize it quicker, I sort of play the game his way by responding mainly with questions about what he just said, rather than trying to explain myself. That makes it harder for him to counter, because there’s only a question to answer. Harder, but he can still frequently manage to find some countering comment – it just seems to keep it from getting so severe. Sometimes when he is in one of these ‘countering’ moods, it gets so bad that he ends up contradicting himself, but if I point that out, he will claim he didn’t ever say what I’m saying he said, or he will just counter my comment that he’s contradicting himself! At that point, I’m usually so mad I walk away, or I just start laughing because it’s so ridiculous. When I can see the humor in it, it doesn’t effect me so negatively. But like so many others on here have commented, the countering is one of the reasons I quit talking to him very much, and would seldom give my opinion. What’s the point of talking if everything you say will be countered or used against you?

    I have never heard of ‘demonstration violence’ before. Fascinating! Many times I have pointed out red lights or slowing/stopped vehicles because my h didn’t seem to see them (a few times he actually has ran red lights), or when he was about to run off the side of the road, and I was sure we were going to crash. He would get angry with me for pointing it out and call me a ‘back seat driver’ or insinuate I was trying to tell him how to drive. (And it wasn’t always just me pointing it out, the older children will do it, too; and yes, they get the same response from him.) Yet for years he has managed to drive daily as his job and hasn’t wrecked. I’ve often wondered how he can be so unseeing when I’m with him, yet drive safely when nobody’s there to point out things. I had never considered the possibility that at least part of the time he could be doing it on purpose when I’m with him. That’s just a mind-boggling thought. (Oh, by the way, he has no qualms about correcting our driving over little things. Huge double standard.)

    As for ‘always being wrong’? Yes. One of his favorite little sayings when we were first married was “*&%#ed if I do, *&%#ed if I don’t”. He especially liked to apply this to what women expect of men. It took a long time for me to see that the saying actually fit my life with him, because that was my experience most of the time. Whatever I did or didn’t do, I should have done it differently, or not at all, or whatever.

    It took forever for me to realize he wanted my opinion on everything so he didn’t have to take any responsibility. He could let me do the thinking, and if it turned out good, it was because he was smart by asking for and taking my opinion; if it turned out bad, it was all my fault because of my stupid opinion that he had taken just to please me. And if I would decide not to give an opinion, it was a Very Big Deal and I wasn’t being a helpful wife.

    Thanks for this post. So helpful to hear other examples of countering and see that I’m not the only one experiencing this. Sorry for my long comment.

  12. poohbear

    Hello, everyone. I’m so grateful to have found this site. It validates so much of what I go through on a daily basis. Thank you!

    I’m an lady who has been “married” to a professing Christian for nearly three decades. We have children, and a grandchild. I didn’t know where else to post my thoughts, so I just put them here…I hope that’s all right.

    It’s so hard when the abuse is just verbal, and we can’t really prove it, isn’t it? And it’s so confusing when the abuser turns it all around to try to get you to believe it’s really YOUR fault (for being dumb, psychotic, delusional, irrational, you name it). My story is way too long to fit here, but, I just wanted to throw out one example of what goes on in my house multiple times a day, and ask if I’m “imagining” the hurt? I feel so undermined and the object of his contempt, every hour of the day.

    Many years ago, we bought a house. I was so happy to have a yard for our then-young children. I wanted them to have a nice play area to play on, so I purchased one without asking his permission. He was SO mad that I’d done such a terrible thing. Mind you, I paid for it money I make from working multiple jobs. And mind you, he always does whatever he wants with his money (buying countless things he nevers uses) and never tells me.

    Fast forward, the play area has gone into disrepair over the years, and needed to be replaced for the safety reasons. My husband tried to appease me and said we could get a free one, but we never did. He said he’d fix it (never did). And when I finally bought an economical one and paid for myself and had to hide it from him until it could be put up this infuriated my husband and he wouldn’t help put it up, only complained that I was a dumb woman for buying this particular one.

    I know this post is very long, but wanted to show that these sort of scenarios have been going on for decades…the double standards…his attempts to undermine everything I say and do, to make me feel stupid, that somehow everything I do is wrong/inferior/foolish.

    Just yesterday, he came home from work complaining again about the “itches”(he’s a Christian so he left off the “b”) he works with, how (sneering) “women just go by their FEELINGS, not by what’s true or right…” I said I am a woman, and that I found that offensive…it didn’t matter. If he said it, it must be true in his eyes.

    Thank you for a place to sound off, and your patience if you read through it all…

    (editors note: comment edited to protect the commenter’s identity)

    • Hi Poohbear,
      Yes, indeed, verbal abuse is hard to “see” – it doesn’t leave bruises as physical abuse does, but it’s just as damaging. And the verbal abuse you describe is a prime example.

      You will have noticed that I edited your comment quite heavily. I did so to protect your identity. Because the blog is public we have had abusers and/or their allies find their victims on the blog and as a result increase their abuse against the victim. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the New User’s page found on the top menu bar. It gives tips on how to stay safe while commenting on the blog.

      And Welcome! We are very glad you found the site!

    • Poohbear,
      It would hurt me deeply to be criticized, betrayed, belittled and all of the rest that you are experiencing in this relationship. You should also feel exhausted. The mental games you have to play just so that your children can have a safe play set is just the tip of an iceberg, I imagine. Verbal abuse is usually accompanied by emotional and mental abuse, but you will need to decide for yourself if that fits your situation.

  13. poohbear

    Thank you for your reply. What throws me off kilter is being accused of being sneaky, a liar, etc., as though I’m a very wicked person, when in fact my “sneaking” is often just a form of self-preservation. In all other aspects of my life, I am very honest. But the accusations are like barbs that stick…

    • Remedy

      Poohbear, you describe exactly the life I have been living for 25 yrs….you are NOT imagining it and you are NOT nuts. I could tell so many stories, like you, too much to write. One pertaining to our children (and me) related to getting a dog and torture he put me through over that and his actions with the children. It was off the charts stunning…and yet put his head on the pillow and sleep like a baby.
      Years,before that, we had an incident in which we could not ever come to agree upon or even ‘agree to disagree’ to maintain dignity in the relationship. After countless scenarios like this one, it occurred to me that I would stay healthier mentally, spiritually, and physically if I just kept my mouth shut, except for the only most necessary subjects. I purchased a bracelet with acrostic letter beads to train and remind me to keep my mouth shut with him. There were, however, things I had to do and decisions that I had to make (on my own since efforts to get somewhere with him were an exercise in futility) and so I also became, to him, sneaky..a liar..having a double life.. unsubmissive… evil…a lousy wife…etc.
      Truly, we are the ones who can never win the approval of these types. They are incapable of offering love, acceptance, mutualality and respect.
      My advice….keep your contact very minimal and build a life surrounded by healthy people and interests. The possibility for him recognizing and changing is abysmally low without divine intervention. Trust those God-given instincts telling you something ‘isn’t quite right’….love (by God’s definition) is missing here.

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