Dr. Jay Grady has written a book called, “Stop Verbal Abuse” and although I haven’t read it, I have read excerpts and quotes and he is endorced by an author I respect.
Millions of hurting people, especially women, need to be set free from the effects of verbal abuse. Dr. Jay emphasizes that now is the time to spread an awareness of the seriousness of the problem.
We can define verbal abuse as words that attack or injure an individual, words that cause one to believe an untrue statement, or words that speak falsely of an individual. Verbal abuse constitutes psychological violence. Verbal abuse is damaging to the spirit. It takes the joy and vitality out of life. Although it would be impossible to estimate the number of individuals in verbally abusive relationships, we can assume that millions of people around the world are limited in their pursuits of happiness. Why? Because low self-esteem and lack of confidence can be a direct result of having been undermined by verbal abuse.
A verbally abusive relationship can be compared to the story of the frog placed in a pan of water and placed on a stove. The fire under the pan is slowly increased. At first the frog swims around happy, with no worries in the world. As the heat increases, however, he becomes more and more uncomfortable until at last the heat is too much and he dies. The temperature of the water increases gradually, therefore the frog did not detect the problem early enough to do anything about it. Unless verbal abuse is dealt with early, the relationship may eventually die as well.
The underlying premise of verbal abuse is control, which is a means of holding power over another. Unlike physical abuse, there are no outer signs of injury, like bruises, and black eyes. Broken bones may not exist but there will be damage.
Let’s take a moment and look at a classic example of verbal abuse and its focus on control, one of its primary characteristics. In January 1971, a television program aired that would become an overnight success and was one of the longest running television shows of all time. It would be one of America’s favorite TV shows for years. The name of the show was All in the Family. America’s families would sit in front of their TV sets and roar with laughter, as Archie, the head of the fictional Bunker family, would berate his poor wife, Edith, by steadily referring to her as “dingbat.” He would also insult his son-in-law, Michael calling him “Meathead” and would put down his daughter, Gloria, for marrying Michael. No one went away untouched by his vicious mouth. We tried to label him a “bigot” and maybe he was, but a better name would have been a “Verbal Abuse Batterer.”
Even today the show is shown around the world and people continue to laugh at other’s misfortune. The one thing that the producers of the show did bring out was that Edith was a person with low self-esteem and totally insecure. And just think we sat there and laughed, thinking it was funny. The next time you are sitting in front of the TV and watching your favorite show, try this, listen to see if there is any verbal abuse or control being used. Be alert to name-calling or put-downs. You will be surprised by what you see. During the years that All in the Family aired, they only had one episode where Edith had enough courage to leave Archie, but because of her low self-esteem and insecurity, she came back. Unfortunately, this is another characteristic of the verbally abused person. This show was and still is a sad commentary as to how far Americans and the world have drifted from what was once a fairly decent society to the place where we laugh at others pain. I am fully aware that this was only a TV show and the family was not real, but the theme and content of the show give one something to think about.
In her book The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Patricia Evans states “verbal abuse is a kind of battering which does not leave evidence comparable to the bruises of physical battering. It can be just as painful, and recovery can take much longer. The victim of verbal abuse lives in a gradually more confusing realm.”
Dr. Jay Grady, Ph.D.