Why Go Off Track With Attack; It’s Really a Lack (Verbal Abuse)

Understanding what happens when a person verbally attacks is the key to knowing how to respond to them. The hardest situations are ones where there have been ongoing attacks for a long period of time. We all know this by its common name, verbal abuse. There are two sides that we need to look at to better understand the picture and know what action to take.

Lets first look at what is happening with a person who attacks. If you were able to observe the behavior in an emotion free environment, you would see the following characteristics: unresolved anger, a history of blame, a lack of self-responsibility, low self esteem, over sensitization resulting in self absorption, and a lack of self-awareness.

An abuser frequently has been a victim of abuse themselves. Their behavior mimics their parents behavior and the abuse that one parent gave to the other. Abuse is typically passed down through the male side of each generation. But there are some women who are just as abusive in relationships, with their partners and children taking on the victim role. An abuser will typically hide most of their abusive words from the public eye.

Abuse can take many forms, from being overt, covert, using guilt, manipulation, name calling, intimidations, threats, harassment, lies, etc. When you consider these characteristics of abuse, you need to delve further into the mind of the person who is abusive. If you go back into their past, you will see how this person has experienced abuse themselves. As children, they always start out as victims.

The abuser eventually subconsciously takes on the role of the aggressor, which hides their own insecurities, pain, and feelings of inadequacy very well. Yet they never lose the feeling of being a victim. When they exhibit the behavior they learned from the dominant parent, it becomes their way of pushing people away so that the pain cannot be seen. They do not see themselves as an abuser, they seek to get rid of their pain, which they mistakenly believe is from their spouse.

The victim has very similar issues, but just on the flip side of the coin. They also have unresolved anger, a history of blame, a lack of self-responsibility, low self-esteem, over sensitization resulting in self absorption, and a lack of self-awareness. The way they act out these characteristics is different, but complementary to the abuser. The pain that both parties carry is perpetuated by the emotional dance that the victim and abuser do together.

A victim has lost their sense of self and looks to the outside world to define it for them. They do not understand their own identity and sway like saplings in the breeze of whatever wind comes along. They are convinced that things will change in the relationship if they just try hard enough.

Many times a victim will focus on trying to rescue the abuser, to show them how to not abuse. This keeps them from being able to clearly see their own roles in the relationship. By constantly being outwardly focused, they become unable to see their own way out of the drama. At times, victims can become abusive when their own anger builds out of control. Yet they do not see that aspect, because they so strongly identified with being the victim.

Both parties are in denial about their core issues. Yet having said that, it is easier for the victim to initiate change, as they are more attuned to the pain that they experience and will hit bottom long before the abuser will. It is typically when a victim cannot stand any more pain that they become desperate and seek help. Yet leaving the abuser does not address the issues that have caused the victim to take on that role to begin with.

The abuser has a much harder time changing as they do not see themselves as abusive and the rewards they get for their behavior are a bigger than the desire to change. These include control, mistaking fear for respect, having a place where their anger can be vented, a way to avoid their own subconscious pain, and temporarily feeling stronger.

Physical abuse is a much stronger version of verbal abuse, even though the results of the verbal abuse can be more damaging in the long run. It is my personal belief that if a person is being physically abused that they should leave the abuser immediately. The issues are much too deep and the danger level too high to make immediate and necessary changes in the relationship. A person must be physically safe before any steps can be taken to address issues of the mind.

If you are an abuser and reading this, deep down inside you know that you are not any better than any other person on this planet. You actually have a deep seated fear of rejection or abandonment. You control in order not to lose the little that you do have. You have lost touch with reality and do not understand what actions disrespect another human being. You have spiraled down this deep dark hole and your anger blames everyone else but yourself.

But it is your own doing that is causing you further unhappiness. Your anger is not about your partner, it is about the constant nagging pain that won’t go away. But you don’t see how you are contributing to it on a daily basis. If your spouse wasn’t there, you would be frightened and the anger and pain would keep growing. Stop blaming others and start looking at what you can do differently to stop the pain. Nothing else will make it go away. You cannot control somebody else, they will never do it right for your obsession, but you can take control over yourself, only if you are willing to stop being so stubborn about how right you are about your pain.

So what options does a victim have in making changes in their relationship? First and foremost, they need to come out of denial about their own issues. The problem is not the abuser. The victim ends up with a reason to blame somebody else for their preexisting and ongoing pain and it gives them the convenient excuse to not focus and work on themselves.

I can only imagine the anger rising for some readers. Yet the anger is also part of the problem. Rather than using the anger at their own choices to galvanize them to take different action, a victim is habituated in using their anger to self perpetuate their own pain and victimization. If you are a victim, your anger can be a powerful tool for self-change. Who are you, what are you, what is your value and how do you take steps to find it?

See yourself as a clean slate on which to start from the beginning and learn what real self-value and healthy self-esteem. When you do, you will no longer feel that you are a victim. You cannot feel victimized when you know what good self-esteem is. They are mutually exclusive.

Make the choice to stop seeing yourself as the victim and stop seeing your partner as the abuser. You are both deeply wounded. You are not more wounded than your partner. Any time you compare yourself to another person, your ego is trying to make you feel better. The only real comparison is one that you make with yourself. Have you learned and grown from your experiences? If the answer is no, look to see why you aren’t learning and making different choices. What fears and mistaken belief systems are holding you back?

By understanding the abuse, you stop using that reference as a label. The behavior must be separated from the person. It is not your partner that you cannot tolerate, it is the behavior. Deep down inside, that person is not their behavior. The person who abuses is looking for love as much as you are. Through their actions and words, choose to see how they have lost their way.

Now stop labeling yourself as a victim. There are many alternate choices available to you, so if you keep experiencing ongoing pain, then accept responsibility for not making different choices. You don’t want to leave because you feel you can’t, don’t know how to restart your life, don’t have enough money, aren’t sure things will work out, etc. There are many sources that can help you leave a partner that you no longer want to be with. The reality is that you choose not to. You may have some very good reasons in your mind for your choice, but accept that it is a choice.

If you make the choice to stay, take the steps to create change in your life. Stop trying to change your partner. Accept that your partner is not going to change. The moments when they are so loving and making up for their actions are only that, moments. You have to make a choice to accept the whole package exactly the way it is or make a different choice.

Choose to focus on yourself and your needs. When you do this you create the opportunity to learn a strong sense of self-value and self-esteem. From there you create boundaries about what is acceptable and what is not. Now you may feel confused from the undue negative influence, but if you focus on yourself and seek sources that support you, you will get to a point where everything that is good about you is not open for discussion with your partner.

By changing yourself you begin the process of respecting yourself. Seek out sources that can help you change. You don’t have to spend a dime if you can’t afford counseling. Go to the library and take out some self-help books. Find this unusual book to help you understand the dynamics of communication: "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. Join a club or group where you can interact with people and find role models of how people value themselves. Lastly, open your eyes to what your own emotional needs are and learn to meet those needs yourself.

Ewa Schwarz

Thank you for your continued support.


recommended books