Staying in spiritual alignment is one of the practices I pay close attention to. Growing up with a Mother who was verbally abusive at times created in me an intense desire to learn what it was and how to protect myself. Mother did not know what she was doing, would not get any help, and, at times, did not care about what she was doing to herself or me. She could not be wrong and could not apologize.
She would verbally whip me with her words, repeating them over and over, in an emotional intensity and tone, with threatening body language that conveyed I was wrong, worthless, and stupid and had better do what she said or else. She shamed and humiliated me in her attempt to gain power over me. At times, this made me physically ill. Later I learned this was verbal, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual abuse.
I carried this pattern into my life until I learned a different way of being through therapy, spiritual work, and my own research and reading. Occasionally it comes up in small and large ways in my interactions with others. When that happens, I refresh my knowledge of verbal abuse. The following quoted material helped me, so I want to share them.
Kellie Holly provides the following insights.
“What is Verbal Abuse:
“Verbal abuse is the only type of abuse that can affect every single person with any type of communication ability or understanding. You may be assaulted by verbal abuse at work, at home, at school, on the road, or walking through a park, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. You could even be a victim of verbal abuse if you live alone because if your self-talk, the voice in your head, diminishes you or your belief in yourself in any way, then you subject yourself to verbal abuse when you allow your inner critic to put you down. No one, anywhere, is immune to verbal abuse.
“Verbal abuse is the most common way to attempt to control the behavior, thoughts, and feelings of another human being. Controlling behaviors are designed to manipulate people into doing what the abuser wants them to do under the guise of love or respect or abject fear.
“The Definition of Verbal Abuse
“ If you define verbal abuse as name-calling delivered through speech alone, then you won’t recognize it when it happens to you. But if you educate yourself on verbal abuse and its nasty symptoms, you can avoid an avalanche of future emotional pain.
“Let’s expand our definition of verbal abuse to be any language or behavior that seeks to coerce its victim to doubt their perceptions or their abilities and subjugate themselves to the abuser. That definition of verbal abuse puts us on the right path to understanding its insidious nature.”
Barrie Davenport created the following.
“Here are 12 surprising forms of verbal abuse you might recognize:
“1. Judging or Criticizing
The verbal abuser is constantly correcting you, telling you what you’re doing wrong or how it could be done better, or subtly suggesting you don’t quite measure up in some way. Sometimes they disguise their critiques or judgement in the form of “helpful” suggestions or sharing their “expert” knowledge when you don’t ask for it.
Then if you call them out, they act hurt that you misunderstood their intentions. “I was only trying to help.” But your intuition tells you clearly they were putting you down.
The abuser might also communicate their disapproval or judgement through their facial expressions, such as eye-rolling, pursed lips, or annoyed looks.
“2. Holding Back
The abuser uses words to keep you at arm’s length or prevent closeness and intimacy in order to punish or control you. There may be times of closeness and connection, but if the abuser doesn’t get her way, she might withhold emotional intimacy, making you wonder what’s going on and why the mood has suddenly shifted.
When you ask, “What’s wrong, why are you closing me out?” the abuser pretends she doesn’t know what you’re talking about.
Have you ever had someone make a subtle but unkind joke at your expense? It stings and makes you feel disrespected or embarrassed. A verbal abuser regularly uses “humor” to disguise hurtful comments.
The abuser often makes these jokes in front of other people, getting in a laugh (as well as a dig) at your expense. If you complain, you’ll often hear, “Can’t you take a joke? Don’t be so sensitive — I was just kidding.” These so-called jokes occur often, and rarely do you hear an apology if you express your hurt.
No matter what you say or what ideas you express, the abuser contradicts or undermines you. You simply can’t be right or have a unique point of view. The abuser will argue with you and force the last word to protect his or her dominance over the conversation.
You feel your ideas, feelings, or thoughts are never respected or valued.
The abuser takes countering a step further by letting you know that what you think or say is unimportant or stupid. They may interrupt you, neglect to respond, or talk down to you. They might try to disguise their disrespect by patronizing you and attempting to make you feel like a child.
No matter what you’ve accomplished or how well you’ve done something, the abuser can’t offer a compliment or positive word of praise. In fact, they diminish your achievements and act as though they are unimportant or much less important than anything the abuser has achieved in the past.
The abuser often finds ways to undermine the praise others might give you or point out a flaw to dilute the praise. They don’t want you to shine and overshadow them in any way.
When you do express a goal or dream, the abuser tries to get under your skin and make you feel incapable. He might suggest you’re “in over your head” or maybe “you need more experience to tackle that.” He erodes your self-confidence, as he helpfully suggests you don’t have what it takes.
He might remind you of your lack of education or a past failure, or he simply gives you a doubtful look and refuses to discuss your ideas. The abuser doesn’t have to say the words, “You’re not good enough to succeed.” But you feel your confidence and self-esteem slipping away, as you receive little reinforcement or support.
Another way a verbal abuser manipulates is by diverting a conversation to something she wants to talk about rather than responding to you.
If she feels uncomfortable about an issue you want to address, she simply steers the conversation in a different direction, or she refuses to talk altogether. She stonewalls you by saying it’s the wrong time to talk, or she doesn’t feel like discussing the matter.
Conversations of importance to you rarely occur, and if they do, it’s always on the abuser’s terms.
The abuser suggests that any verbal abuse is a result of your behavior. You are to blame for whatever negative, hurtful comments might be hurled your way. “If you weren’t so whiny, I might be able to listen to you.” “You need praise all the time. Someone’s got to take you down a rung.”
This is the most bewildering part of verbal abuse, as you begin to feel at fault for what’s happening.
There are regular situations in which the abuser conveniently “forgets” to do something you requested or to show up on time for something important to you. He always has a great reason for not following through or acts as though forgetting is “no big deal.”
He makes you feel bad for suggesting his chronic forgetfulness is a problem. You are too demanding, not understanding enough, or over-blow situations.
Everything has to be done the abuser’s way, and she makes sure she tells you exactly how and when it must be done. She uses words and tone to communicate in no uncertain terms what her expectations are, and you know from experience that it won’t be pleasant if you argue or disagree.
You might try to express your pain and frustration with the verbal abuser’s behavior, but he or she pretends to have no idea what you’re talking about. You must be crazy or overly sensitive because the abuser’s behavior is perfectly normal. If you’d just stop blaming them, everything would be fine.
This denial makes you feel crazy and question yourself. If this person you care about has no idea what you’re talking about, maybe you ARE the one who has the problem.
“So often in situations of verbal abuse, you know something feels off, but you just can’t put your finger on it. The abuser does such a good job of masking his or her true intentions that it takes a long time to figure out what is happening.
” Recovering from this kind of verbal abuse begins with awareness and recognition that you are a victim of it. In some ways it is more difficult to recognize verbal abuse than it is physical abuse, as you don’t have the bruises to show for it.”
Now when I recognize abuse happening with another person or group, I immediately address it as privately as possible. First, I check within myself to see if I was out of alignment. If I was, I own it and apologize or make whatever amends are appropriate. I used to write down what I was going to say and then practice in front of a mirror saying “I was wrong, I apologize,” or “I misinterpreted what you said, I apologize,” or whatever fit the situation. I learned not to say “I am sorry” because the “I am” is my spiritual being, and not “sorry.”
If I was not out of alignment, then I discuss it with the other(s) and request a change. If the change does not happen within a time or two afterward, I may choose to again address it. If it continues to happen, I may choose not to have further interactions with that person. I do not leave myself in abusive situations now, whether it be verbal, emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual (energy, vibration, and frequency). I value staying in spiritual alignment within myself and others doing the same.
Occasionally Reggie barks in an abusive manner with the neighbor dogs. I go outside and tell him not to talk to them like that. He knows what I am saying as he will stop, look at me, give one or two more barks, and then stop. He may or may not be helping them stay in spiritual alignment. It is important to remind him to stay in spiritual alignment, even though he is almost in perfect alignment all the time. Nancy and Reggie♥