• Ways to Survive Verbal Abuse

     

    Verbal abuse is when harmful words are selfishly used to attack, threaten, bully, label or curse another person for the purpose of gaining power and control. On the other hand, love does not make someone afraid, controlled or manipulated. Although not an excuse, the person who uses malicious words may lack the skills to communicate feeling hurt or misunderstood. Each of us has been given the responsibility for the power of our words. If you are ever in a situation where you are being verbally battered, consider the following:

    1. Keep yourself (and children) physically and emotionally safe. If you need to leave, try to return to calm before you drive.
    2. Pray Ask God to help you take responsibility for your part in the argument and refuse to say things that you may regret.
    3. If you choose to speak, summarize what is being said to help the person feel heard. Resist the temptation to fight fire with fire. It is easy to be provoked shooting missiles back at someone who is verbally abusive. This will only further escalate the situation.
    4. Do not take it personally. If it is a stranger, remove yourself from the situation. If it is a loved one who is being vicious, consider their blind-spots, stressors and need for anger management /self-awareness skills.
    5. Take a time Do something kind for yourself. Do a menial task that temporarily takes your mind off the situation and helps you feel productive. The goal is to deescalate and restore peace so you can think clearly.
    6. Identify what is inside your circle of control and what is not. We can only control and change ourselves. Ask yourself what you are learning. Are you setting healthy boundaries or people-pleasing before or after a regrettable incident? Write down a couple of things you will need to say to the abuser when you are ready.
    7. Remember your worth and value. You have rights! No one—and I do mean no one—deserves to be disrespected, verbally put down, bullied or abused.
    8. Seek professional help in a trusting, safe relationship. Please consider the pros and cons of telling family members or friends about the situation but do not remain alone.

    The saying is true, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” . . . unless name calling comes from a trusted loved one or we start to believe the words are true. It grieves me to hear how people work to build trusting, loving relationships but then tear it down in a moment of a heated argument. This can be like plowing a field, planting seeds, cultivating a crop but then burning it down with one match lit by destructive speech. Allow these ideas to help you protect yourself and others from the cruelty and power of verbal abuse.

    Author: Beth Holloway, MA LPC with permission to post on Rosario Counseling & Associates

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    Beth Holloway, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Rosario Counseling & Associates and has more than 12 years’ experience in the mental health  field. She specializes in counseling individuals and couples who have experienced all types of losses including abuse, domestic strife, and trauma. She enjoys leading group therapy classes about Divorce Recovery, Spiritual Enrichment, Couples and Parent/Child Relationships, Grief Processing and Depression Recovery. Beth has had the privilege of traveling all over the United States and to more than 10 foreign countries. She is learning about people from diverse cultures and ethnic groups.

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