*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037
A home should be a happy place, or at least a safe place. Killing daily with the outside world, with extensions, pressures, and surprises, can be difficult. Home is a place to come back to you, a place to feel free, relaxed, and comfortable. Home should be the place where we feel loved and accepted just for being ourselves. This is, of course, an ideal description of what a home can be.
In truth, home is also the place where our personal conflicts are worked out, sometimes in destructive ways. Our internal conflicts may involve issues of anger, power, and control, all of which can lead to verbal abuse. The verbally abusive household is usually not a happy place, and in extreme conditions, it may not be a safe place. It is important to recognize verbal abuse when it occurs, and then do something about it. Fortunately, there are effective ways of dealing with such a situation and making the home a safe haven.
Verbal abuse leaves no physical scars, but the emotional wounds can be just as deep, and recovery can be prolonged. On the surface, others may see both the verbal abuser and the victim of the abuse as a happy couple, the nicest people. But behind the scenes there exists a subtle pattern of manipulation and intimidation, unreasonable demands, sarcasm, and angry outbursts. At the onset of these relationships, everything may seem wonderful. The person who later becomes verbally abusive may shower the eventual victim with gifts and complements and make that person feel like the most important person in the world. Gradually, however, the relationship deteriorates. The abusers’ anger and need for control are projected onto the victim. The victim is blamed for not being “good enough,” and the relationship gradually turns into an emotional roller coaster. When things seem to be going well, a fight emerges unexpectedly.
Because the partners in a verbally abusive relationship have usually adapted to their situations, as painful as this may be, it might require the intervention of a trained therapist to interpret the communication patterns, objectively and empathetically. In therapy, the partners in the relationship may learn how dysfunctional families breed codependence, as well as how negative self-esteem, and lack of adaptive Interpersonal boundaries can lead to a verbally abusive relationship. New and healthier ways of communicating can be learned along with the issues of control, the need for a quality in a relationship, and how to trust and respect one’s partner. Learning assertiveness, and refusing to participate in the cycle of abuse, are crucial steps in coming to terms with the destructiveness of the verbally abusive relationship.
Our homes can, and should, be happy, loving and safe. We owe it to ourselves, and to our partners, to confront the issues which prevent us from making trust and love essential ingredients in the recipes of our lives. The rewards of doing so are immeasurable.