One Master of V.A.

 This is a heavy and loaded topic when it comes to my own experiences with not-so-good relationships. This could be triggering to a lot of people but I think it's also something that needs to be more discussed. This can happen in any relationship, whether between a couple or co-workers. When I say relationship, I don't just mean in an intimate relationship. I was told about abusive relationships years before I ever found myself dating someone who fell under all of the abusive categories- and was aware of it. I had been in relationships of other kinds, like with friends and such, that was abusive and I didn't realize until much later, after still even mourning over the ended relationship.

 Verbal abuse is honestly kind of one of the things I find my own self, not truly understanding. I think because it comes with people who are on the receiving end questioning if they are overreacting, or if it's simply their own fault. I mean if I'm being honest here when I was the person in front of the pointed fingers, who had words thrown at her, I also heard all about how it was always my fault. I think because I heard it for so long, I started to believe it. It's hard because it usually happens in the privacy of just the two people, the abuser, and the victim. I personally remember multiple times where I'd do my best to diffuse a situation while out in public only to get a lecture filled with verbally abusive jabs and more. On top of that, it chips away at you after a while because like I said, you start to believe it. You begin to allow the nasty words spewed to you affect your self-esteem and believe that you "can't do that job", "aren't smart enough for that project", "will fail all on your own" and more. It makes it hard for you to not only believe you deserve help but that you also can reach out for it.

 A lot of people, including myself, will rationalize the abuse in their mind and don't even realize how unhealthy of a situation they are in. While the victim experiencing it may feel mentally exhausted, stressed out, or emotionally numb depending on how the person handles it until they get help. Verbal abuse is used in bad relationships in order to gain control over the other person in that relationship. The problem is, your abuser isn't always just calling you a piece of shit to your face. They are certainly making you feel the same way you feel when someone tells you to shut the F up in your face that you feel when they say "if you really loved me, you wouldn't be doing this" when referring to perhaps spending time away from your partner. While one person's sense of humor may be borderline cruel, how do you make sure it's more of that and not someone trying to verbally abuse you?

 There are a few common patterns that I was told about when it came to an abusive relationship, a few of these were regarding verbal abuse. I've also since researched a few other identifying factors of an abusive relationship to better understand the red flags that pop up with these people. Besides name calling, you also have them being condescending, being manipulative, constant unwarranted criticism, or the discounting type of criticism, demeaning comments, any kind of threat, blame is a common form of it, repeated accusations, withholding, gaslighting, those circular kinds of arguments, countering, block and diverting topics, "forgetting" constantly anything/everything, denial, and even abusive anger. I know that's a lot, and most of them need to be explained further, but that's a lot of what I saw myself and explained away. When you see criticism listed you could easily explain the hurt feelings off as being overly sensitive, as being constructive criticism you just didn't ask for, or more. But when your partner is telling you that you aren't qualified nor good enough for a job that you've been doing elsewhere for nearly five years and you end up passing that great, well-paying, huge opportunity... all because he kept telling you that you weren't good enough for things for months... well that's definitely verbal abuse. Your partner should be the person to get you excited for things and push you towards your desired future, while also being realistic. One of my partners pushed me to apply to my dream college even if that meant us breaking up- not sure if that really was a good or bad idea, but it definitely wasn't a verbally abusive one. Now countering though, that was a newer one I learned while researching this topic better. Countering falls under the argument category: but an example for it is when the victim of the abuse will share their feelings (perhaps positive) about a song they listen to. Their feelings are then picked up by the abuser and the abuser attempts to convince the victim that their feelings are wrong. Blocking and diverting is new to me as well- but it is something I have seen many times before. When the abuser is blocking and diverting, which falls under the withholding category, they are deciding what is okay to talk about and what isn't. Whether they say you are complaining too much, you aren't waiting your turn to talk, or simply ending the conversation and never allowing anything further. I have dealt with that on so many different occurrences, especially when it revolved around how many times I apologized for actions and tried to improve things all alone. The discussion of my abuser's apologies for speaking to me in certain ways, for saying such harsh things to me, or for trying to improve our relationship with certain things was never enough because they weren't his way- but we were never to discuss what he did unless he brought it up himself. And even then, only he spoke.

 Honestly, it wasn't until I started researching more and more articles about this topic that I realized how much I was explaining away due to listening to my abusive partner. I understand now why I always felt so exhausted after even just simple interactions or conversations with him. Also why I always felt so extremely defeated after arguments with him too- not that I ever argued to win or even got to speak much during said arguments anyways. It never made sense to me, someone who analyzes a lot due to her own anxiety and wanting to understand things better, what could cause someone to be so horrible. Sometimes it just happens for no reason, even if they say it's all your fault they are losing their patience with you and that's why they're about to punch a hole in your door. I was trapped in a cycle of searching for causes to the effects, meanings behind the ever-present arguments that never fixed anything, picking myself apart because after a while I believed I was the root of the problem. This behavior has no real explanation. I met my ex's family and there is no explanation. His mother shared lovely stories of visiting Ireland and living there, something I kept her up way too late wanting to hear more about. His younger brother ran track, it made me jealous I didn't stick to anything in high school and made me desperately want to pick up running when we got back to Cincinnati. His father collected cars, toy cars- it was so awesome, he had the Fast and Furious cars lined up on the bar top. His sister went out West, to California I believe, in this crappy little camper van to live her life and I truly admire her for that. I honestly still hope she's out there, not in the crappy camper van, because although I never met her I truly believe that the other two kids those wonder parents raised are kind-hearted people, just like them.

 My ex, on the other hand, I have truly no explanation for. His friends were all lovely people who welcomed me, and some I even knew from years before- I would still honestly hang out with any of them if they still live in Clifton because they were good people. But again, no explanation for him- but one girl he used to hook up with (who he actually introduced me to, twice) did DM me and tell me he would rough her up a little bit when he was angry. I told him how upset I was that he had to tell me, in front of everyone that he used to hook-up with one girl. I had literally just been introduced to her, she walked a few feet away, and he let me know they used to do it on the low. Well everyone found out right then if they didn't know already and when I later brought up how hurt I was that he did that in front of everyone, not that he hooked up with her. He manipulated me into feeling bad for him by his words and crying. He verbally manipulated me after trying to rape me two weeks into the relationship and got me to feel like I had asked for him to try this, though minutes before I said no to sex four times. He made me feel guilty, ashamed, and bad for him. He literally said I was asking for it by my actions and everything else- though verbally and mentally I knew I said no multiple times. He brushed it off, after I apologized, and then we continued our relationship for a few more months. He never tried that again but there were other bad things that happened after a few weeks of good times.

 There was never any rationalizing with him. You can't explain the anger, irritation, all the behaviors they do, or anything else. It will cause you so much pain and confusion if you stay around and try. It is not worth the suffering, the exhaustion, the weight on your shoulders, the emptiness inside, the quiet nights of crying and trying to figure out exactly why. There is no 'why'. But there is the actions and feelings they give you, that outweighs the search for why. The abuser will start to control and define everything in your sight- all of your reality. They will choose what you do and do not do- whether it's with or without them, like parties, lunches, nights out, jobs, projects, and more. If you get the chance to call out the action to the person, it may be able to end it. There are some times, but very and extremely rarely is there ever, a real reason behind it. If that doesn't work, you may want to be as safe as possible and do your best to get out of the relationship that makes you feel as horrible as they are treating you. It can cause you so much stress and anxiety, so it better to end and suffer through the grief or whatever other feelings follow for a few months than to continue on in this unsafe and unhealthy relationship. If I didn't have two weeks away from my ex and talked to these really great friends of mine, I would have never realized how abusive my relationship was. Not only was my abuser affecting my vacation which was meant to give me time to relax from stress, but he was effectively ruining and controlling a lot of my life. If I wouldn't have spoken to trusted friends about what was happening at home in my relationship, I would've never ended it and moved on to have the best fall I had in a long time. Plus I wouldn't have been able to create good friendships with the people my abuser didn't allow me to see.

 It's a lot, the information and this blog post itself. But I want to bring this up because it is something that happens, there are people out there being verbally abused by people they are in relationships with of all forms. There is a number to call that I found a while ago that's the National Domestic Violence Hotline's (1-800-799-7233). Their website alone makes it incredibly helpful if you are afraid of someone monitoring your internet usage, your computer search history, or more. Clearing your search history of the last hour or using a private browser may help but it's never always a perfect answer. I never used these myself. It literally took me taking myself hundreds of miles away and to talk to people, for me to truly understand the depth of my situation with my ex. That's also why I discuss things like this, why I want to be a therapist, why I want to be an advocate for people- because I don't want anyone to feel even a fraction of what I felt while enduring this type of abuse. I know I can't stop people from verbally abusing other people, but I can help make people aware of it so they can do their best to end it for themselves or others. Because some times it does happen in public, and some times people do catch it without even realizing it. Sometimes others can help and put a stop to it, some times even, the victims themselves and are able to end it and get away from it. 

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