I have been talking to quite a few clients lately who describe their relationship as "verbally abusive." I previously wrote a blog on what a verbally abusive relationship looks like in case you are wondering. I find that many people are so subtly worn down by the put downs, name calling, and disregard of their person hood that they aren't even aware of what a healthy marriage looks like. In Patricia Evans book, "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" she has a list of rights in a relationship that I would like to post here as a reminder to my clients.
The right to goodwill from others.
The right to emotional support.
The right to be heard by the other and to be responded to with courtesy.
The right to have your own view, even if your mate has a different view.
The right to have your feelings and experiences acknowledged as real.
The right to receive a sincere apology for any jokes you find offensive.
The right to clear and informative answers to questions that concern what is legitimately your business.
The right to live free form accusation and blame.
The right to live free from criticism and judgment.
The right to have your work and your interests spoken of with respect.
The right to encouragement.
The right to live free from emotional and physical threat.
The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage.
The right to be called by no name that devalues you.
The right to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.
So if these aren't present in your relationship now you might ask yourself, "What can I do, then?" There are steps that you can take to protect yourself and to see if your mate is willing to change so that you can have connection and intimacy in your relationship. The first step is to get support for your own feelings and judgments. You have been conditioned by the abuse to doubt yourself, who you are, and what you think and feel. You can get support from friends, support groups, and professional counseling. As you strengthen your own self esteem and become aware of the subtle ways of abuse, you can begin to ask for change and set boundaries.
Nancy Ryan, LMFT specializes in working with individuals and couples who want deep, satisfying relationships with themselves and their partners. She works with couples who are ready to stop the destructive patterns and want to build the love, friendship and romance back into their partnership.