Several weeks before leaving my abusive husband after 42 years of marriage, I read “The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans. I noted many passages that clearly described the abusive tactics he was using on me.
The information, however, was just so irrefutable, so undeniably true, it was far too painful for me to fully realize and assimilate at the time.
Sixteen months after leaving him, I picked the book off the closet shelf and re-read it, this time noticing many more abusive characteristics of his and experiences I went through in the past. Numerous passages were boldly marked this time, and many more notes were made. Virtually every page held so many similarities to what I had been experiencing in this abusive relationship.
After decades of being unaware of this type of abuse, I finally arrived at the realization that he was indeed extremely verbally abusive during our marriage. This was a tremendous revelation to me, as I had unconsciously hidden and "forgotten" even the physical assault that occurred early in the marriage. Before we married, however, he was attentive and I thought he loved me as I loved him.
I thought that verbal abuse was mainly name calling and hurling outright insults. My to be ex husband did not often call me names and obvious insults were rather rare, although he did call me stupid and crazy a few times. Yes, he did beat me severely early in our marriage, but he was mainly a covert abuser. His methods were insidious and had me feel that I was to blame for just about everything that went wrong.
One of the most painful and damaging aspects of his abusive ways was his obvious delight in seeing my hurt responses to his insidiously cruel remarks... the smirk, the laugh, the hate-filled look. As time went on, I learned to hide my feelings and to refrain from reasoning or arguing with him. I could never "win" anyway. It hurts to realize that the one who promised to love and cherish you didn't really care for you.
Before we married, I happily looked forward to being his wife. I was a loving and attentive wife to him, and was faithful to him throughout our marriage, working very hard in raising our children, cooking good nutritious meals and maintaining the home and businesses we owned. He basically ignored our children, even though I tried to speak with him, telling him that they would be harmed by his emotional distance. He did not care to listen and brushed me off.
Almost all of my efforts seemed to be wasted on him. This happens very often in abusive relationships...the abuser is never really satisfied. He would criticize and downgrade me often, and I began to feel worthless. I had no self-esteem as a result.
Like so many abusers, he was very polite and good-mannered to others. Family, business associates, friends at church... they were completely oblivious to his abusive ways. He had developed a charming persona that he could control at will, that he could switch on and off like a light bulb, and he especially liked to play up this persona in church. He had a dark and angry side that he did not display to others.
For brief periods over that long marriage I went to several counsellors for "depression" but I didn't mention my husband's abuse, so the counsellors were not able to help me. This shows how blinded I was to his abuse. I descended ever more deeply into the abyss of despair and self-blame. Several years ago, I finally mentioned his physical abuse to a new counsellor. At the time I had not yet acknowledged his verbal and emotional abuse. The counsellor suggested I close my eyes and pretend I was on a beach somewhere with my abusive husband. I didn't retain that counsellor for long, either.
The author mentions the description of the Covert Abuser as "also being angry and hostile. However, they don't express anger in the pattern of the anger addict... they may be more inclined to develop long-range plans to control and manipulate their partners." How terribly true this was in my case.
The author also describes Denial as being "one of the most insidious categories of verbal abuse because it denies the reality of the partner.” Again, completely true in my experience and I could not agree more.
To illustrate just how far he would go in his insidious emotional abuse: Several years ago, he and I were having lunch at a restaurant. There was no argument involved, either beforehand or at the time (as if that should matter). I started choking on food stuck in my throat. He was sitting next to me, and made absolutely no effort to help me. He simply sat there while I was desperately trying to cough up the food, feeling I would die. Finally I managed to do so with no help from him.
After arriving home, I calmly asked him why he didn't help me. He muttered something like "I dunno," and appeared completely unconcerned about this incident. I felt he hated me so much that he wished I would die.
In the months before leaving, I had tried to talk with him, asking him to offer a heartfelt apology and seek help. He would become very angry and would refuse, blaming me instead.
"The Verbally Abusive Relationship" helped me to become aware of verbal abuse and the damage that it causes in terms of destroying self-esteem, spiritual, emotional and physical health. The perpetrator of abuse ravages the soul, crushes the spirit and can ultimately murder the partner that is held in the abuser's grip. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is going through abuse and as a warning to others.
This book will provide valuable and enlightening information to anyone who wants to become more informed about the tactics of the abuser.