Getting older can bring many challenges and heartaches, including the death of family and loved ones. Unfortunately, the last few years of my life have included losing several family members and some great friends. Each time I say goodbye to someone else, my perspective focuses more on my life choices.
Verbal Abuse in Relationships
Many individuals, including myself, can take notice of subtleties later when they are no longer the object of verbal abuse. It shocks me as I look back and replay many of these instances in my head. There were several reasons why, however, I never recognized it as abusive, which led me to remain in the same situation for years.
Many individuals are familiar with the fight, flight, freeze, or appease response to trauma. However, one thing I have learned after years of exposure to verbal abuse is that this automatic response can lead to detrimental procrastination in other areas of my life.
If there is one thing I have learned through countless hours of therapy, it is how I need to stop apologizing for everything. Although Canadians are very apologetic, this pattern is prevalent with verbal abuse victims even more so. My underlying desire to make everything better and have everyone be happy with the situation has built an unstable emotional foundation for my life.
If you have a past riddled with verbal abuse like me, you may know how difficult it is to find happiness in your life. Prolonged abuse may have changed how you perceive the world and the actions of those around you. You may be hesitant when someone is nice to you or feel unworthy of love and affection. However, everyone deserves a life of happiness, and it is possible.
As a victim of verbal abuse, I've slowly realized that I may never be totally free of the aftereffects of verbal abuse. Although I can spend hours, weeks, and years in therapy, there will always be a small part of it that is meshed inside my mind. I can use all the helpful tips and tricks my therapist gives me to handle that nagging voice I hear from my past, but it often doesn't work on my bad days.
Verbal abuse can rear its ugly head anywhere to anyone, including children in a school setting. Unfortunately, it can be more than a child's peers who use name-calling or teasing to get the attention they want. In some situations, the trusted adults in the classroom who receive payment to guide our children and help them learn are the ones throwing around insults and demeaning kids. Verbal abuse can happen at school.
Verbal abuse can look different to everyone. For example, while some people experience humiliation, others may suffer from gaslighting. Alternatively, some abusers use multiple forms of abuse to control their victims. Unfortunately, my story involves virtually every textbook element of abuse, from verbal assaults to gaslighting and controlling and manipulative behaviors.
Recovering from a verbally abusive situation is not an easy journey for most people, including myself. The internal damage to my psyche that I endured for years has shaped how I react to certain situations and the choices I make in my life. Part of my personal healing journey is learning how to retrain my brain to think and process my circumstances differently.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a victim of verbal abuse is managing your triggers. As I progress through my healing journey, I am slowly learning how to handle these situations better than before. The most crucial element for me is to remember to avoid falling automatically into a reactive mode when this occurs.