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Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.
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abuse refers to the use of language as a means to control or subordinate another
person for either self-gratification or to impose oneís view or will on
another or to gain an unfair advantage in resolving a dispute. While both
parties subject to a dispute may use inappropriate language with the other,
verbal abuse has the distinction of one party typically causing more distress to
the other party, and causing insecurities in that party typically for the
purpose of exploitation. In other words, the person wielding the verbal abuse
does so to gain an advantage over the abused typically to his or her own desire.
abuse takes several forms including threats, foul or demeaning language, hostile
tone or volume, intensity of delivery whether loud or quiet and sarcasm.
are meant to scare or intimidate a person into submission. Threats can be of
bodily harm to a person or other family, friends or pets of the person. Threats
can also include divulging secrets or making outright lies about a person such
to either embarrass or cause to look bad in the eyes of others. Threats can also
be to property as in telling a person they will destroy something and threats
can be financial, thus seeking to hold a person hostage by intimating economic
hardship. Even the legal system can be used against another and thus threats
include telling another person they will unjustly use the legal system to gain
an unfair advantage.
or demeaning language refers to using swear words or words like stupid or idiot
to cause a person to feel less about her or himself. Thus language is used to
put the other person down and gain a psychological advantage where the abuser
thus presents him or herself as superior. Here, one person belittles the other
through the use of language.
tone, volume or intensity of deliver may appear as shouting, yelling or
screaming or alternately, talking quietly yet intensely, so as to instill fear.
Typically this form of verbal abuse causes the victim to acquiesce for fear of
self-harm, particularly scaring the person that matters might escalate to
include physical abuse.
refers to the use of humour to mask belittling or threatening language. Thus the
information is delivered in such a way so as to provide two distinct messages.
The superficial message is that the intention is humour or levity while the
deeper message is one that belittles, demeans or threatens. Because the
deliverer uses humour to mask the message, the deliverer will try to deny the
deeper message if confronted, thus leaving the receiver somewhat disarmed and
unable to defend against the deeper message.
the person using sarcasm denies the deeper message so as to absolve him or
herself from any wrong-doing and more insidiously try to infer there is
something wrong with the receiver for their misinterpretation. This obfuscation
of the receiverís reality in this scenario is also a form of psychological
the receiver gets angry enough at the sarcasm, the person who is sarcastic
typically then uses the receiverís display of anger as their evidence that any
problem in the relationship originates with the receiverís anger. Thus sarcasm
as verbal abuse is a potent form of gaining an advantage in a dispute and is a
potent means to control another to oneís gain.
all forms of verbal abuse are issues of power and control. Gaining an advantage
to the detriment of the other by abusive means is inherently wrong and can cause
significant emotional and psychological distress.
you are in a lop-sided relationship where your partner uses verbal abuse in any
form to consistently assert their will over your own, then you may require
counselling and other forms of support to end the abuse and either establish an
appropriate equilibrium to the relationship or else provide you an opportunity
to leave safely and heal from the wounds of the abuse.
abuse is real and is destructive to relationships and oneís well-being.
Support and relief can be obtained through local counselling centers. If you are
unfamiliar with resources in your area, consult your physician or local child
welfare agency, local YWCA/YMCA, womenís shelter or police.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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