Domestic abuse victims ask, ‘Was I abused?’ because they truly don’t know, even if the answer is obvious to outsiders. Find out how fear alters an abuse victim’s perspective, and makes ‘Was I abused?’ confusing to answer.
I’ve never been to war. I’ve never been raped at knife-point or fought for my life from strangers. But I did live with an unpredictable, angry and abusive man for over 17 years. And that is way more than enough time to develop hyper-anxiety, difficulty concentrating, experiencing overwhelming guilt or shame, and any other PTSD symptom.
As a young male I find it quite troubling to watch examples of violence against men in popular culture depicted as humorous. In many sitcoms and movies, scenes are regularly shown where a man is threatened or intimidated with violence by a girl’s father. Other situations displaying women slapping their boyfriends or husbands are also routinely illustrated, and don’t get me started about all the Lorena Bobbit jokes I hear.
Types of verbal abuse range from full on anger to forgetting on purpose. Even the silent treatment is a type of verbal abuse! Verbal abusers use several other sneaky tactics to abuse and control their victims, too. Recognizing the types of verbal abuse is the first step to overcoming its effects and regaining your mental health.
Blame causes the victim to believe the abuse is their fault. The abuser claims, “You made me do that!” and “I wouldn’t lose my temper if you …!” Don’t believe it. If you were powerful enough to “make” them yell at you, then why aren’t you powerful enough to “make” them be nice to you?
This example of verbal abuse includes threats, name calling, and discrediting of the other parent. This dad doesn’t care that his daughter is “Twelve, or eleven, or a child….” (just in case he had her age wrong!). He’s more concerned that she’s a “thoughtless little pig” and that he had to make an “ass” of himself to get to a phone to call her.
The teenager tells his dad that she’s like this even when he does everything she asks. I get the feeling that the father isn’t new to this abuse himself. He makes excuses for his wife, he gets slightly angry with his son when he says, “You don’t treat your kids like this!”, and begs his son to lend him the money instead of lending it to the step-mom. The teenager does it because his dad asks his to. But when he gives the money to his father, I want to cry.
Body language plays a part in domestic violence. Threatening behavior “means” the same as a verbal threat, and behaviors are more convincing than words.
How did I become a victim? Yesterday my friend and I hit upon one answer. Or rather, one question that is actually RELEVANT to “How did I get here?”
I listened to a bit of his drivel, but when he said, “This isn’t a threat, but -” I cut him off. You can pretty much bet that when someone tells you “This isn’t a threat” that it is going to be a threat.