Advice on Verbal Abuse and Its Awful Effects

verbal abuse

Are you suffering the effects of verbal abuse in your relationship. Let our dating coach's responses to these readers help.

Dealing with the Effects of Verbal Abuse

Reader Question

I have been with my boyfriend for a while now (on and off). We were together for a year, living together. We broke up last May and then I moved to California after we broke up. He recently moved out to California to be with me about 3 months ago and we are back together again. But we aren't living together anymore. I have a serious jealousy problem though. I am very insecure and I feel like he does not respect me. Sometimes he will say really awful things to me for minor mistakes. For example, last weekend I made a wrong turn and he blew up at me and said, "You suck at everything! There isn't anything you are good at!" he says mean things randomly all the time that hurt my feelings to the point where I cry. And when I cry, he says, "stop being a baby! I can't put up with this!" Then other times he will be really sweet and nice. He works with a girl who is pretty and has an attitude like she knows what she wants and she gets what she wants. I can't help it so I bring her up sometimes and asks him if he likes her... and he always just gets so angry and annoyed. I guess it is my way of simply asking if he is cheating on me. He has not ever given me a reason not to trust him, but I don't know why I am so desperate to find out if he is. It's like I NEED to know. I am going insane over this. I really just want to know how he really feels about me. Please help here!-- Contributed by: Samantha

Expert Reply

Dear Samantha,

You hit the nail on the head when you stated that you "just want to know how he feels about me." Part of your jealousy stems from not knowing. Therefore, it would be natural to wonder if you are doing something that turns him off or if there is another woman that turns him on more than you do. The other reason for your jealousy is that your boyfriend is emotionally abusive. By being verbally abusive, he keeps you submissive. This one down position has you feeling insecure. As a result, you are second-guessing your relationship with your boyfriend and second-guessing your own self-worth.

If your boyfriend's abusive style is the result of not knowing how to manage his own stress level or because he never learned how to appropriately give negative feedback, these are easy fixes. People with these negative behaviors; tend to want to blame others for their own anger. Often times they manage to convince their partner's, children, friends, etc. that if they just behaved differently, there would be no anger. This is one reason why women stay in abusive relationships; they believe the abuse is their fault.

The truth is we each are responsible for our emotions. No one can make us behave inappropriately. Your boyfriend may not be able to control his anger on his own. He may have to learn new skills and techniques to manage his negative feelings. This would require him to acknowledge his challenges and seek some counseling. Nothing you can do will change his behavior; only he can choose to do that. You can choose whether to stay with him, should he not be willing to work on his own issues.

Once your boyfriend learns how to deal with anger and frustration, he will also learn how to offer support and work with you to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. Because of his changes, you too will feel differently towards to boyfriend. You may experience a team-approach feeling, or you might feel like the two of you are united partners. It is likely that this couple feeling of connectedness will reduce your insecurity about how he feels towards you and how he might feel towards other women.

The challenge for you will be whether you can recognize which are your boyfriend's issues and which ones are yours. Sometimes in relationships, one partner has a hard time being responsible for his feelings and behaviors, while the other partner takes on the responsibility of trying to fix things. You might find it helpful to talk with a counselor about your concerns as well.

~~Lori

Name Calling

Reader Question

Me and my fiancé have been together for 4 months and after we have sex he goes on about his business and loves to holler at me and aggravate me. He started calling me names today. He has also told me in a fight that he was getting tired of me. What do I do? -- Contributed by: felecia

Expert Reply

Dear Felicia,

I can't tell from your question if you and your fiancé became engaged 4 months ago and you had been together for months or years prior to being engaged OR the length of the entire relationship is 4 months? The answer to this question makes some difference as to how I respond. Your fiancé is bulling you. What I am not sure is why? I want to make one thing very clear however, no bullying is ever acceptable in a relationship. This includes hitting, threatening, pushing, pinching and name-calling.

Now, if you tell me that the two of you have been together longer than 4 months and his bulling behaviors are unusual, my response would be geared around trying to understand the possible reason for the change in his behavior. I would suggest that you talk with him about the change. Tell him how it is affecting you and the relationship between the two of you. I would encourage you to seek couples counseling in order to work on this issue.

On the other hand, if the relationship is only 4 months old, my commitment to bulling behavior remains the same, not acceptable; the bigger concern is that the bulling is happening given the short duration of your relationship. In case you are wondering, "how he can make love to you one minute and the next be so mean." It's because he likely has a history of domestic abuse in his background. What you are describing, has the theme of a cycle of abuse commonly referred to in domestic abuse cases. However, your fiancé is not my only concern. Given that you have described him as aggravating you as well and that the two of you fight often, I am concerned that this is familiar couple behavior for you too. I am wondering if you have experience with domestic violence in your own history.

How you fight and disagree is more important than the fact that you fight. Right now you and you fiancé do not fight fair. You both need to learn how to do this. I am going to suggest that you have a talk with your fiancé and ask him to go with you to counseling. In counseling, you will learn new skills and tools for fair fighting. I am also going to urge you seek the counseling immediately before getting married. If he won't go with you, then go without him. If you both learn how to fight fair together, you can improve your relationship. You can still make improvement without him; it just won't be as great as it would be if he went with you.

~~Lori

Is It Over or Not?

Reader Question

I thought that I was over my ex boyfriend but apparently that's not the case. I just managed to get over the fact of why and how he left me. We had a small issue with him stepping up to his friends and telling them not to bring around a girl who caused a problem between him and me. He breaks up with me telling me that he doesn't like me anymore, that he can't live a lie, that he's not ready for a relationship. We didn't speak for 3 months because I told him that I didn't want to see him. I was hurt because I did so much for him, and helped him with low self-esteem due to his weight issues. Then, we met up to talk because it had been 3 months of no talking or seeing each other and we had both been invited to another friend's party. We figured to kill the tension since we were both going to go. That day, he told me that he couldn't stop thinking about me and he couldn't get me off his mind. Then, 2 weeks later on another occasion online, he rubbed it in my face that he had left me because he simply didn't like me anymore. The following month, he called me to tell me that he now works right next to me, which was weird because no one knew where I was now working and there's no sign of my office outside.What's with this guy?-- Contributed by: Sandra

Expert Reply

Dear Sandra,

This guy gets some pleasure from causing you pain. Through humiliating you in front of others and by rejecting you, he is creating your pain. To be successful, he has to believe he has power over you and that his power is so influential others will care what he thinks and does. In reality, he has no power over you other then what you give him. So, if you want to take away his power, stop talking with him.

Why he wants to hurt you has to do with him. It could be rooted in his poor self-esteem due to his weight or some other issue he has. He then projects his negative self-image on to you. This makes him feel strong and better about himself. Keep in mind that sometimes when a person hurts someone, he may go to great lengths to do so. To protect yourself, be aware of your surroundings. Keep your eyes open to strange behaviors. If at any time you feel threatened by your ex, whether that be physical, emotional or psychological seek law enforcement assistance immediately.

~~Lori

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Advice on Verbal Abuse and Its Awful Effects