The interview I did with Gary Copeland as host is posted at Healthy Place Mental Health Radio Show and titled My Verbally Abusive Marriage.
I’m not certain what to think about the interview. I was nervous for some reason, and think that I didn’t answer some of the questions succinctly.
While thinking about my answers, I once again reminded myself that verbal, mental and emotional abuse is not always clear-cut. Although physical and sexual abuse are definable (sexual coercion, rape, bruising, death), usually the sub-layers of verbal, mental and emotional abuse are not so easy to discern from “normal” interaction.
Except in the case of physical violence, there is no magic formula that we can identify and say, “If this is said to you, if this is done to you, then you are being abused,”
The key factor to defining the sub-layers of abuse is how it makes you feel and what thoughts you have after or during an attack.
The problem with recognizing the sub-layers of abuse lies in one of the effects of the abuse itself. These types of abuses cause people to forget who they are. The victims of the unseen abuses dissociate themselves from their own thoughts and feelings, choosing to exert efforts trying to figure out how the abuser is feeling. Only by knowing how the abuser is feeling can victims somewhat safely negotiate through the relationship.
Over time, the victim puts so much effort into defending themself from abuse, into being in tune with the abuser’s thoughts and feelings, that they lose all contact with their own thoughts and feelings. They are removed from their sense of self, distanced from the essence of who they are.
Abuse victims usually do not realize how they feel or what they’re thinking because how they feel and think is not important. It’s what the abuser thinks and feels that is the primary motivator and activator in the relationship.