Sabrina was in a relationship with a narcissist for three years. During that time she was physically, verbally, and sexually abused.
What Is Verbal Abuse?
His words play in my head like a broken record, over and over again, for no particular reason other than to make me miserable. They haunt me day and night. I have lost all self-esteem and self-worth because of his thoughts that are now embedded in the fibers of my soul. How do I escape my own mind? How do I overcome the things he has said to me? I would've chosen being punched in the face over the words he spewed at me in anger. At least the bruises would heal, but these thoughts—his thoughts, his words—just won't disappear! I'm being beaten in the ground every day by something that can't be seen or touched, it can only be heard inside of my mind. Will I ever find peace again?
Verbal abuse is something I personally dealt with for three years out of someone that was supposed to love me. You probably wonder why anyone would tolerate such behavior for three years. You see, there's a sick, twisted cycle that takes place and somewhere in the midst of this cycle, the victim becomes lost and all that is left are the harsh words and thoughts that the abuser has driven into their spirit. Deep down I knew that I was being abused and I should leave, but those words had completely ripped away my will power. In my mind, his words were reality and everyone else felt the same way that he did. My mind was crippled by the poison he fed me but my heart kept telling me that there was a way to escape, I just had to find it.
How Did This Happen to Me?
Abuse does not discriminate; prestige nor class offer any protection from becoming a victim. Women and men can both become targets of abuse but let's face it, the majority of targets are women. It is embedded in our genes to be more compassionate, understanding, and forgiving than men. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that research suggests that 20.7 million women are verbally abused every year. While that number is alarming, you can find a small sense of comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
You were chosen by your abuser because of the wonderful qualities you have - empathetic, understanding, kind, sympathetic, loving. He sees all the things in you that he is incapable of being and that infuriates him. Being the predator that he is, he exploits and attacks your inner beauty because he resents you for being something he can't. In all actuality, your abuser is the one that is insecure, weak, and fragile. That's why they project what they feel onto you. They need someone to feel the internal torment that they deal with every day. The only time they feel any sense of worth is when they attack you. You serve one purpose to them; supply that makes them feel better. They don't want to lose the only thing that makes them feel good so they develop a method to their madness in the hopes of you continuing to participate in their game.
Can He Control the Mean Things He Says?
A drug addict will go into withdrawal if you take away their drugs, right? The same type of thing happens to an abuser if you take away their "supply." As mentioned earlier, you are the supply and without abusing you they are left with their feelings of self-hate and they implode. This is why they have a master plan to keep you sticking around for the next time they need to feel better about themselves. How can they possibly sucker you into this devious cycle? Unfortunately, it's not as difficult as we would hope it to be.
Abusers are masters of manipulation; initially they will shower you with compliments, affection, love, safety, comfort; they will be everything you need. This part of the game builds trust while luring you into needing them without you even being aware of it. They are building up your self-esteem, your confidence, and your self-worth. In return, you are becoming dependent on their approval and the perfect things that they say to you. They have maneuvered themselves into a position of importance in your life and their opinion now holds weight with you. You wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardize the way they see you or how highly they regard you, would you?
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Now that they've put in the work, it's time for you to pay your dues. First, they need to test the water to ensure that their work has been fruitful and the payout will be high. The relationship has been going perfectly but suddenly you notice that they're not as attentive, they're distant, they're cold, they're not saying any of the wonderful things to you anymore. Your mind goes into overdrive trying to figure out what you did wrong, why are they pulling away, and what do you do to fix it. You find yourself trying to talk to them but they don't acknowledge what you're saying. You go above and beyond to pull them back to you but nothing is working. The harder you try, the more distant they become. You're driving yourself crazy trying to fix things while they are secretly enjoying you frantically attempting to please them and gain their attention. They now know that the payout will be high and it's time for them to collect.
Do Words Really Hurt You
You simply ask how his day was and all hell breaks loose. The obscenities and horrible things spewing from his mouth catch you completely off guard and shock you to the core. His words pour out like gunfire. Every statement contradicts all the loving and wonderful things he had previously told you. Your mind races, struggling to understand what you have done so wrong for his feelings to change that drastically. You desperately attempt to console and comfort him in the hopes that the verbal assault will stop. With tears streaming down your face, you beg to know what you did wrong and how he could say these things to you. He beams from the inside, knowing that he has broken a small piece of you and his mission has been a success.
He leaves you to hurt for a short time, knowing that his words are embedded in your mind and that you will do anything to have him be the loving man he once was. He has more venom to inject into your mind but he can't push his luck, so he provides you with an explanation as to why he said such hurtful things to you. It may have been a bad day at work or he may even blame you. Either way, he is lulling you into feeling sorry for him and manipulating your understanding and forgiving personality. He needs you more than you need him but you don't know that, so he banks on you forgiving him because you yearn for the admiration and love he once gave you.
Now he has to feed you some more of his empty words of love to slightly build you back up. He gives you a false sense of security again and you completely buy into it. For a short time things will be seemingly wonderful again. But there's always a next time and eventually the bad times will outweigh the good. His confidence in you being an endless supply for him soars each time the cycle is completed. He eventually knows, without a doubt, that you will always be there to nourish his empty soul and the length of the cycle will continuously shorten. He believes he has you where he wants you and you'll never break free from the negative thoughts he is placing in your head. I disagree with him, you wouldn't be reading this if there wasn't a fighter inside of you.
Healing Your Mind
You want to recover but you don't know how. You feel so broken by the thoughts in your head and you feel powerless to take your life back but there is hope for you and there is a rainbow at the end of your storm. You have already taken the first step by admitting that abuse is taking place. That is very difficult to do and shows that you still have a warrior inside of you even if you're still in the abusive relationship.
The next step is having someone to talk to about what has happened. Abusers love to cut their victims off from the world so that nobody can know what is really going on. You need an outlet to vent and discuss what is/was happening without any judgment. You may be in a situation where friends or family aren't an option. That doesn't mean your journey to recovery ends. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is always available and they can direct you to resources in your community. Their number is 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) and their website is http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/.
Your healing will take a path of its own. Don't make the mistake of tracking your progress based on other stories that you hear. You must stay in your unique experience and do things at your pace. Yoga, meditation, counseling, support groups, keeping a journal, and filling yourself with knowledge on verbal abuse are a few of the things I suggest you try. You will quickly discover what methods work for you and what methods don't. There isn't a set timeline of how or when healing takes place. You may have to crawl at first, but eventually you will spread your wings and fly again. Just make sure you keep moving in the right direction and your healing will happen. As I always say, "you had no choice in becoming a victim but you do choose how long you remain one."
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.