In this "You got to see it to believe it" world, abuse has become a big issue, especially for women and children and especially concerning physical and sexual abuse. But women and children are not the only victims, and physical and sexual abuse are not the only forms of abuse. Verbal and psychological abuse do not leave the physical scares, but are no less damaging than the "visible" forms of abuse. Often such abuse is written off as "teasing". Some perceive such abuse as "just" words that mean nothing and can't understand why the victim can't just ignore them, bringing to mind the old child's verse, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." The reality is words DO hurt, they DO damage the mind and spirit. What constitutes these more elusive forms of abuse? Constant criticism, humiliation in public, name-calling, isolation from family and friends, general harassment, threats to injure either the victim or those close to the victim, withholding approval and/or appreciation of affection, denial of worth, as well as the more obvious put downs. Victims lose self-worth and more often than not see themselves as deserving of the abuse. Some do not even realize they are being abused.
I am a victim of abuse. My ex-husband, who is still in a state of denial, is a victim of abuse. For both of us, the abuser was his mother. During the time we were married, this woman made it clear that I was stupid and ignorant, that no amount of study on my part gave me a clue that I knew what I was talking about. My words were nothing, and I had no value as a wife or mother unless I went into the workforce and got a "real" job. Every financial error was my fault, even though it was my husband who could not hang on to a dollar bill to save his life. She decided his career by changing his training registration from one class to another behind his back THEN telling him what she did. He was so beaten that he didn't even call to change it back to what HE originally wanted. She was allowed to speak to me and about me in anyway she wanted, not once could he stand up for me. When my husband and I separated (although in hopes of working our differences out), she evicted me just to get a new rental agreement in which she determined the education of my children. Having no one else to go to, nothing else to rely on, I was forced to sign. Six months later she bumped the rent up over $100, impossible for me to pay at the time. She tried to keep me from going to school. She tended to walk into my home, even into my bedroom, whenever she wanted and would not leave until she had goaded me into losing my temper, and then would walk out saying "Well! She is so emotional!" (mind you, she had been sitting in MY room for over 45 minutes being told to leave). She insisted she had a right to run my life and to talk to me anyway she wanted. For 7 years I heard nothing but how ignorant I was and was constantly put down. I had no talent, no intelligence, nothing to give. This was driven into me on almost a daily bases. Strangely enough, I didn't recognize the abuse for what it was early in the marriage. Verbal and psychological abuse are not well publicized.
But, abuse is survivable! We CAN find ourselves again, can see beyond the lies into our true souls and regain who we are. My ex-husband still deals with it on a daily bases. Some victims are like that, unable to break free. The abuser often does everything s/he can to make sure that the victim CAN'T get free. I understand now my ex was unable to stand up for himself, much less for me. Even today, it is MY fault the marriage dissolved. I guess in a way it is . . . I chose to no longer live in an atmosphere where my value was less than nothing and my home was not my own. I made that choice. But it is the best choice I could have ever made. It took me 2 years, but I have regained what I lost. While I still see many of my faults, I can finally see my talents again. I have survived 3 years on my own, and now know I am a capable person. I have regained a sense of humor, am no longer depressed on a daily bases, and am generally more mentally healthy than I was even before the marriage. I am strong. I have survived.
Surviving does not mean unscathed. There are scars and questions that remain. I often fight harder than necessary sometimes to keep my individuality and to keep from being beaten down yet again. When I do get depressed, its usually long and deep, and I still hear her hateful words. But I fight this, and am aware of these things within me. That awareness, and knowing that there is an end to the sadness and depression, gives me hope. I can survive again . . . I survive everyday. And I hang on, knowing I AM a worthy person. That knowledge is inside us all, we just have to find it.
I created Beyond the Words as a support for survivors and to encourage awareness of these most ignored and least seriously taken forms of abuse. If you are a survivor and willing to share your story or have links or information that can help verbal and psychological abuse survivors (resources can help with other forms of abuse as well, but Beyond the Words is specifically aimed at verbal and psychological abuse, so resources and such must specifically include these forms of abuse), please consider supporting this site. Thank you.