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Verbal Abuse That’s Not Easy to Spot but Indeed Very Harmful

Verbal Abuse That’s Not Easy to Spot but Indeed Very Harmful

Verbal abuse runs rampant and is the most under reported act of Domestic Violence of them all. More often than not, young girls are raised that this is how we are expected to be treated. Several groups want to point out that it’s not true.

However, 62% of tweens (ages 11-14) report that they are aware of their friends being in verbally abusive relationships. 1 in 4 teenage girls, who are in relationships, report enduring repeat verbal abuse. Tweens and teens do not just automatically subject themselves to such relationships, it’s learned behavior that stays for a long time.

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Verbal Abuse Is More Than Feeling Uneasy. It Dampens Our Spirits.

Entering into adulthood, this behavior continues. In some cases, it turns into physical and/or sexual violence. However violent the relationship can get, the verbal abuse is the most damaging to the psyche. Repeatedly exposing ourselves to verbal abuse can lead to:

  • the feeling like you are constantly on guard
  • loss of enthusiasm
  • unsure of being able to communicate effectively (you can, your abuser will convince you otherwise)
  • diagnosis of depression and/or anxiety
  • suicidal thoughts
  • trapped in the “what if” thoughts
  • feeling uneasy or paranoid for no reason

Complete Catalogue on Various Abuse Tactics

There are very specific methods to abuse and these become your warning signs. If you are newly dating someone, take note of these tactics!

Withholding

They don’t tell you everything and avoid sharing thoughts or feelings. Discussions become based only on facts with no real in-depth sharing.

Countering

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There is a tendency to be argumentative. You enjoy a movie, your abuser must tell you why the movie was awful and convince you that you are wrong. I often said that if I told my ex-husband “the sky is blue” then he would go on a long winded rant on why the sky was really green and there was something wrong with my vision.

Discounting

They are removing your rights to how you feel. You become “too” much of anything. You are too sensitive, too childish, or over-dramatic. This tactic tends to leave you feeling as if you are never quite good enough for your partner.

It’s Just a Joke

They are hiding the abuse behind the caveat “it’s just a joke”. My ex-husband would often spend plenty of time trying to shame me for something in front of other people and if I dared get upset he would say “it’s just a joke, your being too sensitive”.

Blocking and Diverting

They control all conversations. The abuser decides what you two talk about and if you change the subject, you are chastised for speaking out of turn.

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Accusing or blaming

The victim is blamed for things going “wrong” in the abusers life that is out of control for the victim. A famous example is that your appearance is all wrong and cost the abuser a potential promotion. Of course it couldn’t possibly be because the abuser wasn’t right for the promotion!

Trivializing and Undermining

They minimize your successes or passions. You may really like a particular type of food and your abuser must tell you how unspectacular it is. If you get a promotion or a raise at work, they will try to lessen the good that it makes you feel.

Threatening

This can be as simple as “if you don’t do this, I will leave you”. My ex-husband was quite subtle with his threats. His worst was when he told his friend in front of me “I am afraid of my temper. I think one day I may lose control and kill my wife”. He stared at me to see a response.

Name Calling

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It is the most popular form in which the abuser must reduce your self-esteem by using vulgar and demeaning language to describe you. It often weakens the victim to a point in which she doesn’t feel good enough about herself to leave.

Forgetting

They forget date night, forget to call, forget your birthday or anniversary. It’s an act of controlling what happens in your day to day and controlling your emotions. Forgetting your birthday hurts.

Gaslighting

The abuser changes events that have already happened. You will recall a series of events and your abuser will say something like “that is crazy, that never happened!”. Or worse, they will change the events and tell you that your memory is wrong. It’s not only an act of control, it’s meant to drive you crazy.

Projection

They pretend like you are using abuse tactics on them. Many abusers, when confronted with their acts of abuse, will try to flip the events and claim that the victim is actually the abuser. This is especially true for narcissistic abusers who can’t handle having their public image shattered.

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Several Things to Do in Face of Verbal Abuse

If you find yourself in a situation with someone using verbal abuse, your instinct will be to rationally have a discussion. The fact is, you cannot reason with an abuser. Try as you might, it just won’t stop once they know how to get under your skin.

One way to combat the abuse is to call them out for their behavior every single time it happens. Avoid using you statements such as “you are gaslighting me!”. Rather be more direct with “stop abusing me!” or “stop blaming me for things I cannot control”. They will either learn from their behavior and stop or they will move on to another person to try and abuse.

Your other option is to set boundaries and not pursue relationships with folks who do abuse you. This can be very difficult if this is a close familial relationship.

Ultimately, you should not feel obligated to endure abuse for anyone at anytime. When you set the boundary to only allow healthy relationships, you are empowering yourself to expect better treatment.

It’s important to note that verbal abuse is an act of domestic violence. It doesn’t matter if someone never lays a hand on you, verbally abusing you is harmful and damaging. If you, or anyone you love, is enduring verbal abuse please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help, 1-800-799-7233

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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