Episode 23: What Emotional & Verbal Abuse Can Sound Like
Words, phrases, and actions explaining what verbal and emotional abuse looks like and sounds like. Steps we can take to learn and change these behaviors in ourselves and boundaries we can place to keep safe from others if we are being abused in this way
Today, we're going to be talking about emotional abuse. We have in the past with little smaller circumstances. But this time, we're going to be going over emotional abuse that is extreme and very hard to notice or see. It's as if there's a graph going across and there's all these green lines of all the good. There's so many good things. But as you look closer, there's the spikes of red going in between. Now the green represents, okay, they're fine, they're nice, they've apologized, or they have come around. And the red represents all the daggers and the stab wounds and the hate and the malice behavior and the verbal words that basically murder you when they are talking to you.
One of the ways that this may show up is when you want to voice your opinion, when you feel something when you have worked on something when there's something that is really true for you, that you're being honest and open and vulnerable, and you want to share. And so you decide, okay, this is coming from a really good place, you've thought it out, you've maybe written it out, you've reread it, you've prayed about it, you've pondered on it, you've really made sure that it's what you want. And you come from this place of calm and peace, you know that not everybody's going to agree. But you also feel really strongly that this is the best thing for so many people involved or for yourself.
And so you present your idea or your thought to somebody that is supposed to be on your team, or at least someone who cares about you, and thinks of you in high regard. So you share it. And before it's even digested, there is already an army built. It is like all of a sudden, you are smashed to the ground. The person cannot even believe that you would think these things, say these things want these things, and they want you to pay for it. Now they want you to be in trouble for stating your truth or your opinion. And you're thinking, K, wait a second, are we reading the same thing? Are we talking about the same thing? Are we discussing the same thing?
Because this person flies off the handle and starts blaming you for anything and everything? Obviously something in your message or your delivery triggered something in this person, and they respond. But healthy communication would respond something like, okay, I read that or I hear your words, however you're communicating it. And they might say I don't know that I agree, it actually makes me feel super uncomfortable. So let me ask you some questions about it. How did you come up with this? What were your your thoughts? What's going on in your mind where you feel that this is true for you? and start a dialogue. But instead there is no communication, no conversation, and now something that could have been so small, and a simple conversation becomes an all out war.
This is where emotional abuse is so prevalent and so shocking and so destructive. You can take something and twist it and spin it to all of a sudden now you are in charge and blamed for everything that's ever gone wrong in that person's life. Anything that they believe about you or your situation is now the enemy. And they don't just tell you, they murder you with their words. It's as if it's a riot. It's as if you are peacefully protesting something true something you believe something you want to be understood by. And all of a sudden people start running. And just like the riots that have just recently happened. All of a sudden they're flipping over cars and they're throwing bricks. And, and being crazy, and you're just trying to talk rationally.
But these people or this person will not allow it. They absolutely have decided that you are no longer respected, valued or loved. The hardest part about emotional abuse is sometimes a person who is the abuser will do it solo. They'll do it to you without anybody else knowing so people can't tell or see how mean they are. Other times they need people on their side. So immediately, they may gather everybody they can a small army of people. And they'll share every single thing that they think about you. And they will twist your message to them. They will take one truth out of it, and they will shift the rest into something totally vile that wasn't even the intent. And within minutes, there is this army of people thrashing you stabbing you trying to murder you with their words.
And you're sitting there left going, wait a minute, I pondered about this, I prayed about this, I knew this was true. I felt really good about my direction. Yet all these people are freaking out, or this one person is freaking out. And what do you learn from that? You learn, you are told, oh, if I have an opinion, I'm going to be thrown out. I'm basically going to be disowned if I don't fall in line with what this person thinks is the only right way. That is emotional abuse. When we're raised like this in a family of toxic behavior, when we have people around us, or a person or a parent figure, that anytime we want to talk about something, or resist what they're saying, all of a sudden, we are thrown to the wolves. We learn, oh, it's either mom's way or no way. It's dad's way or no way.
If I don't fall in line, they won't love me. As that becomes our reality, we live in it and we learn these coping skills. And we learn this communication style that actually isn't communicating. It's actually adult temper tantrums. When we're growing up, we only know what we're in. So we learn whatever style it is. And then when we leave home, we start seeing the difference. Oh, wait a minute, that actually wasn't that healthy at my house? Or I don't think I want to be like that I didn't actually feel heard from the parent who did that those things to me.I want us to be different. So as we're watching, and we're seeing it happen around us or to our family members, we're like, oh, no, do I stand for truth?
Do I change the pattern with risk of being ridiculed and having the army after me? Or do I just kind of fall in line? Do I just quiet myself and not say a word? If you do, that's because you're in that abuse cycle, and you're being abused. It's scarier to say something sometimes it's scarier to fight against the bear against the wolf, the one that will Ravage you. But also as we do start seeing truth and we start noticing, hey, wait, that does not feel good. I don't want to take that anymore. I don't want to listen to it, or I don't even want to be a part of it. I don't want to join that abusive circle, that ring of making a person feel that they have to be silent, in order to be approved of or brought into the the circle the family circle.
Its as if those people link arms, and nobody's allowed in unless they think or feel the same way. When everything calms down, and you're thinking about it going, wait a second, what kind of destruction did I just witness? Or what was I in what was I part of? We're given a chance to see things clear. Also, as we grow up, and we become adults, and we want to do things different, and we are getting the help that we need to heal from any sort of childhood trauma, or things that we learned along the way. We have choices to make, we want to be different. So it's going to come into our path, where we now will be given the chance to stand up. When we do there may be so much backlash. The army may come after us. War might ensue. Bricks might be thrown. cars may be turned over. The words of hate and malice and destruction. Where everything is thrown at you may come.
But somebody has to change the cycle. Once we know truth, we can't turn back. There's so much good to be done by standing for truth. It is not our responsibility to save somebody else from their feelings. It is not our job to own behaviors and experiences that other people have. If you're married to somebody that had a lot of trauma growing up, you don't come in and take care of it all. You don't even take the blame for anything that happened to them before. Yet, someone who's in trauma or someone who is an abuser will want you to. They will want you to hold all the pain. They will want you to make everything okay all the time. They will expect that you do things in order for their world to make sense.
The problem is, is it still doesn't. You can bend over backwards, you can walk on eggshells, you can say just the right thing or don't say anything at all. And there will still be a reason for that person to cause a fight. To see you with unclear eyes to look at you with vengeance and anger and hate and say the most ruthless things. None of that is yours. If an abuser is choosing to go all out war on you that is on them, not on you. This with communication that I have expressed and shared a little bit of an example about covers emotional and verbal abuse. Somebody who is lashing out, calling you names swearing at you, bringing up every past thing that you've ever done as a way to hurt you, and bring you down to get you back into their control is emotional and verbal abuse.
Does this make sense to you right now? Is this something that you're experiencing? Have you experienced it? Now, I didn't experience anything like this into this kind of severity. But I have heard from and talked with many people that have. This is real. This is real that as somebody starts coming out of the fog, as somebody gets stronger as you're doing your healing work, and you're getting stronger, and you're like, Hey, I'm gonna stand up for myself here. I'm no longer going to sit here and let other people tell me how I should be because I need to make their world better. It doesn't matter if you're being blamed for everything, if nothing's ever right. If you aren't cleaning well enough or cooking well enough, or taking care of the kids well enough, if you're not doing your job the right way, if the car's not clean, if you are not taking care of their sexual and emotional needs, you are flawed.
If you are hearing any of those things, that is emotional and verbal abuse. If you are doing these things, yourself and you are causing some of these things, check in with yourself. See why. See how come you're lashing out. Usually when we lash out, it's because we have chaos in our own inside. We are unable to stay in a calm place so that we can talk things through. We have a hard time seeing another person clearly. We can only see either what they've caused to us like harm, or we can only see our own wounds, mirroring from them. But Check it out. Check in with yourself to see call yourself out. Wow. Okay, I am not being a kind mother. I am really getting frustrated. Okay, why? Why are you? If you're saying anything like well, they were doing this so I got mad. I yelled because they; you're not taking accountability or responsibility for your actions.
You can also look at this the same if you're hearing this from your spouse, and they're saying, well, I only yelled at you because you; did something, that's not true. That's on them. I only had an affair because I wasn't getting my needs met. Okay, no. Again, that's wrong. If any blame is placed on you, for somebody else's actions, or you're placing blame on someone else for your actions, you need to check yourself. That is abusive in some form. We cannot make another person do something terrible. Somebody else can't make us do something. When I cut my husband's ties, which is in the first chapter of cutting ties. When I did that, I was at my ends rope. I was having a breakdown.
Now I knew what was causing the breakdown. But I also knew that I was having flaws. After that happened, and I was pondering and thinking and praying about Okay, what was wrong in me that I let myself do something out of character because of someone else's response? How was I not able to stay calm and focused? And in the right place, meaning in my own space? What I truly believed and not do something like that. How did I let myself spin in that fire? So I had to look at myself. If I wasn't willing to, then I could have just blamed him all day long. Well, he wasn't doing this. And he didn't do that. And he, he said this. Some of those things are true. But the blame still lies with me that I cut those ties. He did not make me do that.
Do you see where I'm going with this. It's about having some emotional resiliency and having boundaries for ourselves, so that we don't get caught up in somebody else's craziness. If we have somebody that comes to us all crazy and bent out of shape, and they light the little match, and we jump into the fire and everything explodes, before we even step back, and look and see and hear and gain some clarity. And we just go on whatever that person is saying. And all of a sudden, we're part of the mob, we are not seeing clear. It's a good chance for us to really look at what we want, who we are, and how we want to be and communicate with others. If we are in a situation like this, and our partner is verbally and emotionally abusing us on a daily basis, that means most likely that our children are also enduring the same things.
What can we do to start noticing and seeing it? Well, first, when it's happening, we might not see it at that moment, because remember that beginning when I talked about the scale, the graph that kind of goes across, and it has all the lines going up and down across the thing, and it's all these green lines. And then in between, you're like, Whoa, there are so many red lines in the middle. The problem is, is that those green lines, make us kind of forget, and make us feel unsure about our reality. An abuser is really good at keeping the control so that he doesn't lose grip, so that he doesn't lose everything, so that his spouse doesn't stand up for truth. By doing that, he throws in all these green, all this love or kindness or Oh, he's changing now. Oh, he's finally seeing as clear, oh, he was treating the kids so nice today.
But then the next day all hell breaks loose. And all of a sudden, we are the worst spouse in the whole world. And if he had somebody else, he could get anybody else he wanted and, and whatever else goes on. Everybody's world is different. And then all of a sudden, you're thinking, Oh, my gosh, what just happened? He was he was doing just fine. And then again, the green shows up, and he somehow makes amends, or you threatened to actually leave or kick him out. And then all of a sudden, he's the best guy in the world. And then you're thinking, Wait, do I wait, does he want to change, maybe he really does, maybe he really wants to change, maybe he wants to be better. It's really hard when we're in that cycle, because there really is trauma there.
Abuse is manipulation. And it starts off slow. When we're dating somebody, we don't see it right away. That's why we think they're the greatest people on earth. But as we start seeing the red flags, we sometimes decide not to look at them. If we marry a person that becomes abusive or already was, but we didn't notice. It'll just get worse over time. The manipulation will be there, covertly or right out in front of your face. As we start seeing it, we'll notice patterns and we'll start seeing Okay, so he lashes out. He's mean he yells, he stomps around, he gets what he wants. Meaning he goes off and gets to watch a movie by himself or play video games or go in his room. So he no longer has to be present. He no longer has to help you or watch the kids. And so he's all of a sudden got what he wanted by being mean. And you're left picking up the pieces and gathering everything up and and quieting the kids and making sure everything runs smooth so that we don't have to go through this again.
We show our kids that if we can make sure that dad is happy everything's going to be fine. But is that true? Does it matter if you guys make everything awesome, then Dad's going to be fine. Dad's actually in charge of his own emotions. He actually gets to decide how he's going to be. Mom gets to decide how she's going to be. Where I mainly talk to women who have spouses who are abusive, I use Word sometimes, like, What is he doing or what is your spouse doing meaning him but it goes both ways. I've met several people who have had abusive wives. And they have had to learn these same things, how to get out from under control, how to recognize that they were being abused, and it's a hard place to be but it happens. So when I say he or she just know it can be anybody.
Nobody is exempt from being abusive, and nobody's exempt from being abused. Doesn't matter how strong you are. I've said many times that I had no idea that I was in a manipulated, abusive situation. I didn't even know. I thought there's no way I would be in those situations that some other people were. Yet here I was being deceived, manipulated, abused, and cheated on. And I had no idea that that was me, until I learned what it meant until I learned also how quickly and slowly it happens. Because it's the slow little process, and then all of a sudden, something crazy happens. You're like, Oh, my gosh, what was that? What just happened? That's weird. And then it kind of dies down again. You're like, okay, everything's fine, right? So as the years go by, it just gets worse and worse.
So let's just say you're in this situation. What are you even supposed to do? Well, first, you have to start recognizing it and calling it out to yourself. Okay, I noticed that he went on a rage because I told him, something that I cared about or wanted. I told him some truthful things. And he freaked out and started calling me names, started yelling, and telling me all these things that I'm the worst person in the world. Okay, so as we do that, we notice and we sit back and we watch, and we're like, Okay, well, I, that isn't true. And I don't want that happening anymore. Here's where we can gain clarity with counseling, where a counselor can help you set up boundaries. A boundary would be something like, I am going to walk away from this conversation until you can talk to me in a healthy way.
A healthy way would be not blaming, would just be taking ownership for a person's own actions and feelings and then holding consequences. Meaning you really don't engage back in the conversation until they're ready to talk to you rationally and kindly with respect. The next thing would be to learn how to stand up for truth, like saying, No, that is not true. That's not what I meant at all. I shared with you my feelings on it, and I have a right to feel this way. You can also stop somebody and say, I will not let you verbally abuse me like this, do not swear at me, do not call me names. Now, I know that if you are in a physically abusive situation, or the yelling is violent and scary, this might make you feel unsafe to call them out.
If that is true, getting help so that you know how to remove yourself from a situation like that so you have the strength to walk away, would be very important. When you're with somebody that nothing you do is ever going to be right. And if you do say something that it goes against what they want, and you are blamed and punished and cast out. And then every mistake you've ever made is brought up. And basically you cannot do anything, right ever. And those things are held over your head. And anything that you have done, you're punished for the rest of your life. This is an unsafe place to be. It's volatile and it makes you feel like you have to be small and quiet that you can't stand up for truth and right.
When this happens, the cycle just keeps repeating itself. Your kids witness it, they experience it, then they end up in relationships the same way. When we think we have to do something or say something at the safety or expense of someone else. I can't share what I really feel is true because I'm going to be in trouble. We're in some sort of controlling situation, where we're not feeling that we even have the strength, or even allowed to say something. Being under someone's thumb like that, where we're always careful or we never know for sure what the situation is going to look like when we could have been so amazing all week long doing so many things for this person. Maybe we've done everything that we possibly can do that week for our spouse. And then still, one day later, we don't do something exactly right, or what they'd wanted. And all of a sudden we're screamed and yelled at.
You never do these things for me and you never love me the way I want and you always... those kinds of words. Never and always are very abusive words, and they're not generally true. So when somebody can only see what's happening in the very moment right then and they don't take into an account a lifetime of a person, they live in a really hyper state of emotion and triggers and trauma. They haven't dealt with their own wounds their own addictions, their own problems. And so when you say something that is critical, and that causes their trigger to come up, it brings up old past trauma, all of a sudden, you're going to pay for all of it. You're going to pay for everything that ever happened to them. And they're going to try to make it look like it's you and your fault.
I'm talking to you about this, because I see it, I see it happening, I've witnessed it. It is shocking and scary. And such an ugly truth. We're talking about it, because we need to remember that it's happening, that it's real. And either we're in the situation or families are. We address it because we want to change. Those of you who listened to me are listening to me because you want to thrive in your life. You don't know how to necessarily get out of your situation or move forward from certain things you might feel in chaos, or so depressed or sad. But you have this hope and drive in you that you are going to figure it out. And that's why you hear me, that's why you follow me here and on my social media. That's why you read my book.
You want to know the tools. You want to know that what you're experiencing is real. You want the validation that you're not crazy. I'm here to tell you that you're not. The things that you are experiencing, have happened. And it doesn't matter if somebody tries to tell you that you're wrong, that those things didn't happen, and that you have to do it a certain way. And you have to stand for and let it happen. That you just have to sit there and do whatever it is that they want. I'm here to tell you, no, you do not. You can stand up, you can learn what truth is for you. You can learn to be strengthened and have courage and bravery. You can stand up for yourself and for your children. You can get the counseling help that you need, so that you can better yourself, and let that ripple over to your children.
A person who cares about you, does not mock or ridicule or degrade you. They do not look at you like you're less than. They do not try to make you believe that you are. They uplift. They love, they nurture they care. And they do things because they know it will better your life. If addiction is in the way and your spouse has an addiction of some kind, if they truly, truly love and care about you in the way that you deserve, they will be getting the help that they need. They will be choosing a recovery lifestyle that is accountable and honest and loving and apologetic. I am so sorry that I caused that. Oh, wow, I really did just kind of go unconscious a little bit and I was treating you badly. I am so sorry. That's that that's on me. And I will work on that. That's what that looks like.
Healthy relationships are possible. You are deserving of healthy relationship. Even if you've done some of these same things too, that doesn't mean you're deserving of a bad relationship. Even if you have verbally or emotionally abused your spouse or your children, that doesn't mean you have to deserve the same thing back. What it means is catch yourself, get the help that you need, and make amends. Start to learn and choose differently, how to live and how to communicate, so that you can be free so you can be happy so that you can feel that healing that thing that just gives you so much peace. Healing in yourself changes everything. Your eyes are open to what's around you and you finally discover that you do not have to put up with abusive behavior or patterns.
You also find that you don't have to display abusive patterns or behaviors. Healing you will change your life. You can choose into doing that the tools are all around you. Every time you hear something that sparks your heart and says, oh, shoot, that's me. I do that. Figure out what you need in your life to change that and heal. Every time your heart sparks that says, Oh no. I'm in that kind of relationship. My spouse does not value me. Get the help you need choose into doing that work so that you can make the hard decisions. The hard decisions are not the scariest thing in the world. The scariest thing in the world is staying in a really hard abusive relationship for years on end. And living in a place that just keeps going downhill where you're getting more sad, more depressed and treated badly.
Any form of abuse is not okay. We know the physical. If there were bruises I've heard so many people say if I just had a bruise I could show I could show to people that I'm being abused. But verbally and mentally, emotionally; nobody can see it. The problem is, is our abusers usually are throwing all those green lines. And the world is seeing the green lines. And they're just thinking, your relationship and your spouse is the greatest thing ever. And you're thinking, but don't you know that there are so many red lines in between those green ones? They don't have to know and they don't have to validate you. I know that they're there. I know that just because on the outside, somebody looks like their life is perfect, I know that that doesn't mean that they are. Choose you.
Look and see clear what is happening in your life. Get the help that you need, so that you can change it and figure it out. You're deserving of that. You are deserving of being loved. You are deserving to love yourself. You are deserving to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for the things you've done, forgive yourself for staying with an abusive partner, doesn't matter. There's no shame in any of this. All this is a chance to wake up to clear awareness to say, wow, that situation just blew out of the water. And now I am seeing clear the dysfunction. You can let that go let it slide. You can close your eyes again, you can go to sleep again. You can let the status quo just kind of maintain itself. And things will get smoothed over and everything goes back to normal until the next wave hits.
But you know, it always hits. It's always there waiting if we don't fix it. It's hard work. All of this stuff is hard work, you know that. But there's such a feeling of gratification and empowerment when we do something and learn something new. When we overcome something that has been hard and we learn how to do it, we are like Wow, look at me, the strength grows. So as you do that, you only have to take one step at a time. You don't have to change your whole life in one day. Just start noticing. Just start opening your eyes, taking note of what's actually happening around you and start trying to see Hmm, this is where I am not standing up for myself.
Start with just one thing that you're noticing and start trying to shift it and see where it is that you need the help and who you should call for that help. I am always here for you. I have my new website. I have mentoring programs. I also have a six week training. So check that out at RoxanneKennedyGranata.com. You can schedule a personal session with me if you need to talk more about these things that we've discussed today or any other day. And hey, while you're at it, if you are loving my podcast, I would love it if you would go give me a rating. And if you want you can even post a review. I love you all have a good week and I'll see you next time.