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Handling Verbal Abuse (back in the 90’s)

April 24, 2009

Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts…. Robert Fulghum

I read a book that had been written at the beginning of the 1990’s and, I’m sorry, but I had to laugh! I’m really not meaning to ridicule the book or it’s author, it’s just that none of these responses would have worked for me with Rick. He would have either laughed at me or hit me! Read through these and tell me what you think……..

Responding to Withholding…….
Withholding is a purposeful silent treatment and is a violation of your boundaries.
If you have experienced hours, or days, of nonresponsive closed silence leave the area stating clearly and firmly as you leave “I am feeling very bored with your company.” Then be gone as long as you want to.

Responding to Discounting…….
If you’re hearing “You’re jumping to conclusions.” “You’re blowing everything out of proportion.” “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” You are being discounted.
To stop this, try saying “Stop that kind of talk right now.” Or..”Hold it!” Or…”Cut it out.”
This lets him know that you hold him responsible  and that you know his beliefs are not your beliefs.

Responding to Abuse disguised as a joke……..
When you are put down and tell your abuser that it isn’t funny, he will usually say “It was just a joke.” Or..he’ll laugh at you.
Respond with “Now that you’ve said that (done that) (laughed at me)  do you feel more important. I’d like you to think about that and I‘ll get back to you later about it.”

Responding to Blocking and Diverting…..
Do not respond to statements meant as roadblocks or as a way to divert you from your question. Instead use the “Look at me” statement. For instance:
She: “Where did the money go?”
He:   “Ha! You can’t even balance a checkbook. What do you know?!”
She:  “Look at me! Where did the money go?”
Keep repeating this until he answers your questions.

Responding to Judging and Criticizing…..
When you hear judgments and criticisms such as “You’re a lousy driver”, “You’re so stupid”, “You don’t know anything”, etc. respond strongly and firmly:
“Stop judging me!”
“Enough of that!”
“Please keep your comments to yourself.”

Responding to Trivializing and Undermining...
Trivializing/Undermining is abusive behavior that makes light of your efforts, your work, and your interests. The abuser is telling you that what is meaningful or valuable to you has little meaning or value. Respond with:
“I certainly don’t feel supported when I hear that kind of talk.”
“I’ve heard all I want to hear from you.”
“I’m definitely not having any fun with you.”

Responding to Threats……
If you’re being physically threatened, get help immediately.
If you’re verbally threatened, try this:
“Don’t bother me with those threats please.”
“I don’t want to hear it. Leave me alone.”

Responding to Ordering…….
If your mate gives you orders or demands something of you, insist that he make a courteous request:
“Who are you giving orders to?”
“Can you say please nicely?”
“I don’t follow orders!”

Responding to Abusive Anger……
Abusive anger is a significant factor in abuse. It’s closely related to the need to ‘blow up’, ‘dominate’ or ‘control’.
Distance yourself from him by thinking of him as a child throwing a temper tantrum.
“You may not raise your voice to me like that!”
“I don’t like that tone of voice!”
“Take a deep breath and talk nicely to me.”
The moment that you hear anger in his voice, respond with “Hold it!”, then leave. If you’re talking to him on the phone, hang up.

……So! Tell me what your thoughts are aboout the above statements.


14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2009 12:45 am

    I agree with you!
    Not a helpful book at all – as you say, you would have been laughed at or hit.
    Thanks for posting this.

  2. Susan permalink
    April 25, 2009 4:15 pm

    I agree with you. Saying those things to an abuser will incite or escalate his/her violence.

  3. April 25, 2009 8:07 pm

    Jonie, you are very welcome!

    Susan, Hi! Nice to ‘see’ you here! Thank you for your comment on this! 🙂

  4. Louna Cee permalink
    April 27, 2009 9:51 am

    Is that a joke!! Come on, now! Are we dealing with children or abusers who can’t hear our screams when they hurt us…

    Absolutely ridiculous! =))

  5. Riku permalink
    April 27, 2009 10:21 pm

    Some of it would work, but most of it? I can see it just making things worse.

  6. April 28, 2009 9:30 am

    Louna Cee….I so-o-o agree!

    Riku…Yes–Some would work depending on the degree of abuse you’re dealing with but none of it would work if you’re dealing with a ‘hard core’ abuser.

  7. April 28, 2009 6:13 pm

    Oh my!!

    I have no doubt the intentions of the writer were good, but I couldn’t imagine *any* of that having worked for me. Ok…maybe a time or two, but mostly…no. Just…no. :/

    Like you, I kind of chuckled, despite that not-funny subject matter.

    Btw .. I love the quote at the top. So true!!!

  8. April 28, 2009 7:32 pm

    Yes, ATL, it is so true! The spirit can be broken to a shattered mess!

  9. May 1, 2009 12:16 pm

    Um…they sound “fake.” None of these would work on an abuser. I guess they didn’t read the book!

  10. May 1, 2009 1:28 pm

    You are so right–they sound fake! Sad thing is that the book sold really well and there are DV victims who still read it and try to follow it. I’ve seen it mentioned on a couple forums and when I comment about my input, they refute it and say it must work–it’s a popular book! A popular book doesn’t make it right!

  11. pioneerjo permalink
    May 5, 2009 3:43 pm

    In a violently abusive situation these could definitely provoke the attacker. This seems to have been written by a man with no first hand experience of domestic violence! While there are some relationship situations you could get away with saying this, definitely not in your case with Rick.

  12. May 5, 2009 7:36 pm

    Jo, you got that right!!
    (actually the book was written by a woman–unless it was written under an assumed name.)

  13. Louna Cee permalink
    May 7, 2009 8:28 am

    And a woman wrote the book… interesting!

    I’ve been reading a lot.. at least 1 book a day. I have listed them on my blog. It is my mission to gain as much kn0wledge as i can during this time of change…

  14. May 7, 2009 9:23 am

    I’m an avid reader also. I checked your blog and didn’t see the list. I missed them if they are there.–?

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