discounting is verbal abuseAbusive people discount your thoughts, feelings and reality so they do not have to take responsibility for their abusive behavior. If your abuser can force you to doubt your perception of how something happened, what someone did, who agreed to do what, or almost anything else related to the way you understand your world, then your abuser doesn’t have to admit they are acting like an ass.

It amazes me just how little it takes for my husband to want to wipe away my reality. If he had one of those memory erasers like they do in Men In Black he would overuse it just for fun. It feels as if he wants to scramble my brains! Knowing he wants me to feel like less of a person so he can get what he wants hurts. Who does stuff like that? Oh – that’s right – abusive people do.

Some things your abuser may say to you when they want to get out of an argument or conversation or claim justification for their behavior include, “You’re a know-it-all” or “Are you looking for a fight?!” or “You can’t take a joke” or the ever popular, “You’re too sensitive!”

How My Husband Uses Discounting

My husband loves to tell me that I don’t understand how the world works. In this way, he’s able to dismiss and make fun of my observations and ideas. If he’s the only one who knows about the “real world” then he can discount anything I say as naive or worthless.

Whenever I have had a business idea or pursued a home business, he’s found every way to make me believe my ideas couldn’t work. He says that by being critical he is only trying to help me avoid problems. But how is, “Are you sure you’ll be able to keep up with that?” supposed to make me think constructively?

Or, “I’ll tell my friends about your web design thing, but your integrity is going to get me in trouble at work!” It’s a long convoluted story about how that could happen, but here he’s telling me that something he “admires” in me is my downfall. He values it, but he shouldn’t…and I shouldn’t value it either because integrity causes him problems.

How to React to Discounting

how to react to abuse discounting

Don’t bother reacting outwardly. Your abuser will take what you say to defend yourself as an excuse to escalate the conversation into an angry blow-up. I know it is very hard to NOT react, but this is something you must learn to do anyway. Your abuser relies on your reaction as an excuse to “make it worse”. They want to blow up at you and relieve the inner tension. If you do not react, the abuser doesn’t have the chance to escalate.

They may try to escalate the conversation anyway. It’s common for abusers to follow you around, needling you with comments, trying to get a reaction from you. Ugh. It sucks being the healthier person, doesn’t it?

You can react internally. Reacting by thinking the truth is the best thing you can do. “I know you said it” repeated firmly in your mind, affirms your perception and memory of events. You do not need anyone else to confirm what you heard, saw, believed, felt or thought. You get to decide the truth for yourself.

Based on the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans, ISBN 1558503048, Adams Media, February 2003 and my experiences with verbal abuse.

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  1. rsmikulin says:

    Sadly, your whole collection on verbal abuse sounds SOOO much like my husband, but this one and name-calling are the most prevalent. It might be something that seems like a nice, normal conversation, then he’ll suddenly respond to my idea or theory with an explosive, “Well that’s just idiotic, only a moron would think that.” Other times he might have simply told me what in his experience discounts my idea, which is why I still tell him such things, so these responses truly come out of nowhere.

  2. I am so tired of these sick demented games. How can these types of people live with themselves!! Making the lives of their supposed loved ones absolutely miserable! It’s funny how everything & anything I say gets twisted & used against me when I don’t do anything wrong. I’m not perfect, but holy sh–, there are no words to describe the viciousness, demeaning, nasty & downright hateful behavior of this person I’m supposed to call my husband. It’s not a relationship, it’s a dictatorship & it’s disgusting. These types of people need to be put away in a mental institution!! These types of people don’t deserve the right to walk as free individuals just as they imprison their victims. I don’t even think a psychiatrist would be able to wrap themselves around my husband. I think by the time they were done diagnosing him, they would need a psychiatrist as well. It is sooo hard not to react because for 27 years I was always afraid of speaking up due to how he would embarrass me. But, as you get older, you get to a point in your life to where you are sick of not standing up for yourself. He certainly doesn’t like the fact that I have a voice & want to stand up for myself. But it’s a double edge sword, because it doesn’t matter, he is ruthless & beyond sick. His words cut through the core like I’ve never ever seen. So what’s wrong with me & why do I stay? I ask myself that question every single day. Maybe it’s the death threats I’ve always heard & the velocity of his viciousness. I can literally say that I hate this man with a passion!!

  3. Discounting, minimizing, and withholding are unfortunately ‘part n’ parcel’ of our Western Society model. We are a ‘one up,’ ‘I’m better,’ ‘my house, car, education’ etc. trumps yours, type of a culture. It is so deeply ingrained that it makes true intimacy next-to-impossible. Not only in marriages but in friendships, peer interactions; almost everything.

    • It’s not that way for me (anymore), but I see your point. There are examples of one-upmanship everywhere. But we do not have to tolerate it in our families nor any other intimate relationships or friendships. It’s the individual’s choice as to how much discounting, minimizing and withholding s/he will tolerate. You’re in charge, Gary. If your spouse or friends act like that, it’s okay to find a new spouse and friends.

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