Every once in a while, I post about this subject. There is much more of course than what I’ve detailed below. I have books which describe verbatim, in some cases, the things Dan used to do and say to me. He hated one of them in particular – Patricia Evans’ book “Verbal Abuse: How to Recognize it and How to Respond“. I could not have it anywhere in sight when he was around. I always thought that was very telling about his inability to face himself.
Why do I do this review once in a while?
One reason is to REMEMBER what it was like to suffer such abuse, so that if I get this type of treatment from anyone again, I know to either set some firm boundaries about what type of treatment I will not tolerate from the toxic person, or to GET AWAY from him.
Secondly, I do this to allow others to see EXAMPLES of what verbal and emotional abuse looks like from someone who’s experienced it. That way, they’ll be better able to recognize it in their own lives if it occurs. Contrary to popular belief, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse is not “hard to define” or “subjective”. I’ll be writing more about that in a separate post.
But for now, here we go – in response to a question asked on a site for targets of abuse I posted the list below. The question was “what types of insults and derogatory comments do/did you get from YOUR abuser?”
- “you DESERVE to be humiliated in public. You bring it on yourself!” (he was in a fit of rage after one of the times I confronted him with his habit of publicly yelling at, berating and belittling me),
- “doesn’t take much to amuse YOU does it?” (in public, after I laughed at something he or someone else said),
- “You have no self-control” (re: my wanting to call him to talk for no specific reason),
- “you’re a spoiled brat with a princess syndrome” (when I appeared quiet and shy at social gatherings – because I AM SHY – social functions can cause me a lot of anxiety),
- “you’re just like that cat – a lot of gimme and very little thankyoukindly” (he claimed I didn’t “appreciate” all the things he did for me – see the controlling caregiver on Dr. Irene’s site for details about that problem. This was during an outing I’d arranged for us to see a tiger compound. I had driven us both there and paid for it – ironically – as a ‘thank you’ for some work he’d done at my house. The keeper was feeding the cats bits of meat and made that same comment about the cat. Dan claimed I was just like the cat – even while I was DOING what he claimed I didn’t (being appreciative), by planning and paying for that outing for us),
- “oh aren’t you being a princess?” (after I lost my appetite and just sat there in a restaurant because he’d called me a b*tch over dinner – in a public place again – as was typical. Dan had called me that because I was upset because HE was two+hours late getting there to pick me up to go to dinner. I had obviously been starving – but not after being insulted and humiliated in public again for the umpteenth time),
- “oh so I guess you’re just going to take your little toys and go play by yourself huh?“, (in public again at a restaurant, he interrupted with this comment during a discussion I was having with another person about how I set up my own messageboard/blog because he criticized me about “not posting properly” on one HE moderated. HE had given me erroneous information about where my posts should go. The forum he told me to put them in didn’t EXIST. After I posted them in the next best place I could find, he sent me condescending messages that I’d put them in the wrong place – his insinuation was (as always) that I was stupid. In his narcissistic mind, HIS mistake was MY fault because HE doesn’t make mistakes – so I was deserving of his private and later, public beratement for it),
- “I blame YOU for everything because everything is always your fault!” (with a very self-superior smirk – after I confronted him with the fact that he always – every time – without fail – blamed ME for every single issue we’d ever had in our four-year relationship – including HIS OWN mistakes or shortcomings. Once he’d blamed me for the problem (THE problem was his abuse) HE considered the issue resolved. But it never was. Four years of unresolved issues and the subsequent accumulation of pain, anger & resentment because of this constant abuse destroyed our friendship, and made our relationship a terminally toxic cesspool.
- “you don’t know how to communicate, I’M the better communicator. I’m better at relationships.” (with a very self-satisfied smirk – usually during discussions where I brought up issues with his dishonesty and abuse, and how he always blamed ME for all our issues and even HIS mistakes).
These are only a few examples. This type of behavior towards me was constant. It occurred whenever I communicated with him in any way: in person, on the phone, or via email or messaging. If I brought any of it up, or wanted to discuss it, or expressed how constantly humiliated or hurt I felt because of it, I was accused of being oversensitive, crazy or “CHOOSING to take it the wrong way” or that I “deserved” it (above).
And to top it ALL off, after 4 or so years of this type of treatment, he then berated me for being “angry and depressed” and said he had begun to avoid ME at public gatherings because he was afraid I WOULD MAKE A SCENE in front of people. That was most interesting to me because HE was the one who berated, insulted, and humiliated ME in public on numerous occasions. I never did that to him. Wow. How’s that for some projection?
THEN there was the routine where he’d blame the consequences of HIS abuse on MY hormones. A derogatory name he liked to call me was “time bomb“. He claimed that every few weeks I’d “blow up at him for nothing“. When that happened, he claimed I was “crazy” and “making sh*t up” and “pulling stuff out of thin air” and “bringing up stuff that he doesn’t even remember – because it didn’t bother HIM.” Now, this last comment is quite telling about lack of empathy that is typical of narcissists:
He didn’t remember it – because it didn’t bother HIM.
He claimed my “PMS” was the cause of these outbursts. Female targets of abuse often hear this excuse from abusers and it’s just that. It is an excuse they use to avoid having to take responsibility for their own abusive behavior – and for its consequences.
The fact is, those outbursts had little to do with PMS or any hormonal fluctuations of mine. It had to do with my tolerating – without response – several straight weeks of derogatory comments and “jokes”, outright insults, namecalling, incidents of humiliation and put-downs and the blame for it all – FROM HIM. After the initial “romance” phase, life with Dan slowly became a constant barrage of verbal attacks, criticism, humiliation, derogatory jokes, verbal potshots, and digs at me.
After some time – I’d get my fill of it and then explode in anger at him for all of it – all at ONCE after it had built up for weeks.
That’s called REACTIVE ABUSE, not PMS.
As many abusers do – rather than OWN his behavior and recognize his OWN role in these issues, he chose instead to blame ME and my “hormones” for it, while MY “hormones” had little to do with it. Luckily, I’d never had PMS-related mood swings. I’d get breakouts and backaches – but that’s all. I even kept track for several months of my “moods” just because I was curious. No pattern. No relationship. So, I wasn’t buying that excuse.
So I was “angry and depressed“, Dan ultimately complained to a counselor. And Dan insisted that “90% of the problems in our relationship were due to HER issues” on the first session, stated emphatically. HE was innocent – and faultless, he asserted, for all of it. Poor, innocent Dan maintained that he hadn’t a THING to do with our problems when the counselor spoke to him during our sessions. He’d tell her what an angry monster I was – always picking on him for “no reason“. This dynamic is one reason I maintain that in abusive relationships, couples counseling does not work.
He felt he should accept NO responsibility whatsoever for his own behavior or the consequences of his own behavior in our relationship. And that is very typical of an abusive person. As I’ve mentioned before, with such a person, it’s all about THEIR feelings, and what they want or need – and someone else’s actions. It’s never about THEIR actions and anyone ELSE’S feelings. Anyone ELSE’s feelings or needs are simply not important such people. In fact, they simply do not exist UNLESS the abuser is trying to impress someone. That might mean YOU in the romantic beginnings of a relationship with such a person. But after devaluation starts, that will be the end of their caring a whit about your feelings or needs.
I’ve mentioned before that this LACK OF EMPATHY, even more than their own sense of superiority, self-importance, entitlement, perfection, and grandiosity, is the primary mark of a narcissist. I can’t “diagnose” Dan as a narcissist, but I will say that this guy behaved extremely narcissistically in our relationship – and that his behavior played a large role in its destruction. It tore ME down, and since I was half of “US” – it destroyed the relationship.
Mind you these guys are VERY charming outwardly. They’ll charm YOU at first – before the abuse starts. Sweep you off your feet. That is their specialty. When the abuse begins though, it will be sudden, unexpected, unpredictable, and will send you reeling emotionally – like whiplash. It’s such an instant Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation sometimes at the oddest times, it may stun you into stone silence and you won’t know how to respond. And this will happen more and more frequently as time goes on.
To all their friends and OTHER people, they’re very charming too, seemingly reasonable, considerate and thoughtful. But if YOU are in an intimate relationship with this person – YOUR feelings or needs will not exist to them. YOU won’t exist to them at all, except as an extension of themselves.
If you tell anyone that they’re abusive, no one will believe you. Because the abuser isn’t like that around other people. Only YOU. That is the benefit to them of this Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde split personality that they work so very hard to maintain. That sharp delineation between how awful they treat YOU, and how well they treat everyone ELSE – family/friends/acquaintances – protects them in this way. It discredits YOU if you try to tell anyone about the abuse. Others become their unwitting allies without even knowing they are defending his hurtful behavior.
If you think you have one of these people in your life or may be in an intimate relationship with one, I can’t recommend highly enough the book “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists” by Eleanor Payson, M.S. W.