His words shouldn't feel like a hard jab to the heart.
Verbal abuse can begin as small digs disguised as jokes.
Your boyfriend or husband teases, ridicules and humiliates you with sarcastic remarks about your appearance, personality, abilities and values. If you tell him, “I don’t think that’s funny,” or ask him to stop poking fun at you, he becomes defensive, irritated or angry.
He tells you things like, “You’re too sensitive,” or, “You can’t take a joke.”
His blaming statements are convincing, causing you to question your ability to reason. You wonder if you are over-reacting, and you doubt your own perception of his abuse.
In reality, his denial of your experience and your emotions only adds another layer to his abuse.
He makes comments about you in front of friends that mock or belittle you. He conceals his acrimony with a smug grin and laughter.
His public ridicule is unexpected. It throws you off balance, and it embarrasses and humiliates you.
Your friends may laugh at his wisecracks, but your heart feels the jabs and your brain struggles to interpret the true meaning of his put-down.
If you show shock or displeasure he may patronize you with a hug and tell you he was only “kidding.” He maintains his good guy façade, and your friends wonder why you are overly emotional about a mindless joke.
“It takes a quick mind to come up with ways of disparaging the partner either crassly or with wit and style. This kind of abuse is not done in jest. It cuts to the quick, touches the most sensitive areas, and leaves the abuser with a look of triumph. This abuse never seems funny because it isn’t funny.” — Patricia Evans, The Verbally Abusive Relationship
Over time his ridicule and put-downs can severely damage your self-esteem, sense of self and integrity.
I should have paid attention to the first time Dr. Dirtbag ridiculed me about my weight.
We were eating dinner in front of the TV, and out-of-the-clear-blue-yonder he said, “Ya know, the reason fat people are fat is they don’t know when to stop eating. Your plate is so clean when you get through eating I don’t even have to wash it.”
I froze mid-bite.
He could see the hurt in my eyes, but instead of apologizing he feigned innocence, saying, “Oh, did I say something wrong?”
He swore he didn’t mean it, but he never apologized. He instead blamed me, saying, “Geez, I was just trying to help. You told me you wanted to lose five pounds. I can’t say anything to you. I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”
His sole purpose was to shock and wound me with his spiteful put-down.
These are all examples of verbal abuse disguised as jokes:
- "She can’t remember anything; she has sticky notes everywhere."
- "She‘s so funny; she burns everything she cooks."
- "She can’t find her way to the grocery store without a GPS."
- "Having a bad hair day?"
- "You act just like your mother."
- "You would forget your name if it weren’t on your drivers license."
When he says these things to you, he is really saying, "I can say whatever I want to say about you, because I am 'just' being funny."
Understand that the sole purpose of his hostile, disparaging humor is to victimize, belittle and insult you. If you don’t react to his ridicule, he won't be able to control, dominate and power over you.
Here are 4 examples of ways you can stop reacting to verbal abuse disguised as jokes:
1. Refuse to be drawn into his attempts to put you down.
Don’t acknowledge his excuses. Do NOT get into a debate with him.
2. Tell him you don’t appreciate being the butt of his humor, and you want him to you stop it.
And he needs to stop NOW. Don’t stick around waiting for his reply.
3. Ask him, “Do you feel better now?”
Then leave the room.
4. Ignore him.
Pick up your phone and call a friend. Or take a walk. Or go for a drive.
Get the picture?
Chances are your abusive partner will never change.
But you can take your power back by changing the way you react to his verbal abuse.
Is your boyfriend or husband verbally abusing you? Understand the covert tactics of an abusive personality in Never Date A Dead Animal: The Red Flags of Losers, Abusers, Cheaters and Con-Artists by Nancy Nichols. Paperbacks and eBooks available in Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and online stores.
This article was originally published at www.knowitallnancy.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.