Judging and criticizing allow your abuser to express how little s/he accepts you as you are. The abuser implies that you should be smarter, more sane, less picky, or any other type of expression about how little your abuser appreciates who you are. Many judging statements start with “you”. For example, “you are a cheater” or “you have daddy issues”. Critical statements usually are said about you to someone else. For example, “She is so confused she doesn’t know her right from left half the time” or “He nags like a woman”.
Abusers also love to retell stories about you in which you made a mistake or the abuser can make fun of you in some way. You have the feeling that your partner doesn’t really like you at all, and over time the stories they tell become embellished to make you look like a real loser. Abusers will also pretend to be giving you constructive criticism (as if they care about you anyway), but it comes off sounding like an insult.
How My Husband Uses Abuse Judging and Criticizing
When Will judges and criticizes, it’s a power play to put himself in control of the conversation. Evidently, I should think he knows everything and I know nothing. Evidently, I should think I don’t have a clue about how to do much of anything and I should think that he always knows better.
“Will, some bills change from month to month. When we rent movies on cable, the cable bill changes. Sometimes the electric bill isn’t what we expected, and – ”
“You’re just trying to avoid answering my questions. You’re hiding money or something. When I did the bills, they never changed. Maybe those people are taking advantage of you because you don’t stay on their ass about stuff like this.”
How to React to Judging and Criticizing
Sometimes a simple dumbfounded look with a shake of your head as you walk out of the room is the best way to react to these abusive idiots. Again, arguing doesn’t do anything except escalate the abuser’s attempt to gain power over your feelings and thoughts. The more you say, “I’m not like that” the more they say “Oh yes, you are, and it’s high time you admitted it, Miss Perfect.” I swear, dealing with my husband’s abuse is enough to make a saint piss in his wheaties. Sometimes I just go write down the crap he says to put it out of my head.
Nine times out of ten, he accuses me of being something that he is! When he accuses me of being a liar, I think of all his lies. When he criticizes my decisions, I remember that he drives drunk, ignores his sons, and chooses his friends with beer over his family. Ask yourself if your abuser is criticizing you based on truth or based on diverting you from saying the same about him or her. “Well, you do it too!” is a weak response and one the abuser can easily laugh away.
It’s better if you do the laughing first.
Remember that these statements are to help you feel better and detach from your abuser’s antics. They do not guarantee that your abuser will stop abusing you, nor do they protect you from further abuse. You should fill out a safety plan so you know what you will do if things get out of hand.
Based on the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans, ISBN 1558503048, Adams Media, February 2003 and my experiences with verbal abuse.