When a person is in a verbally abusive relationship, it is important and helpful to have the support of friends. One particular friend in this situation is Patricia Evans, who has written a book that explains what verbal abuse is and how to respond to it in a healthy manner. Her book The Verbally Abusive Relationship, came out in 2010 in its third edition, indicating the continuing need for this information to be made available to the public. If you are in this situation, I highly recommend that you read this book for all of the guidance and support it can offer to you.

Evans begins by offering the reader some basic facts about verbal abuse. She tells us that generally in a verbally abusive relationship the abuser denies the abuse. Verbal abuse most often takes place behind closed doors. Physical abuse is always preceded by verbal abuse. A pattern of name-calling and applying a derogatory label to the other is verbal abuse. Verbal abuse takes many forms. It consistently discounts the partner’s perception of the abuse. How do you know if your relationship with your significant other is verbally abusive? What are the forms it can take?

Evans provides a list of statements with which a person can determine if they are experiencing verbal abuse in their relationship. Several examples that she provides are that the abuser seems irritated or angry with the abused person several times per week or more often although the abused person hadn’t meant to upset the other. Each time the abused person is surprised by their partner’s feelings. The person being verbally abused often feels confused and frustrated by the abuser’s responses because they can’t get the abuser to understand their intentions. The abuser seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything you mention and their view is stated as if it is fact rather than one viewpoint. There are many other questions in this list that need to be read in the book and pondered as to their relevance to the reader’s experience.

Evans provides the rationale behind the abuser’s stance toward the abused. The heart of the matter is that, because of their own internal sense of powerlessness in their life, the abuser seeks to have power over the abused. The abuser does not want a relationship between equals and a mutuality that promotes the personal growth of both partners in the relationship. Thus efforts by the abused person to speak reasonably with the abuser to find out what the problem if will not succeed. The abused person will not be successful in trying to refute abusive statements. Evans advises the abused person to tell the abuser to Stop! when the abuser makes an abusive statement. On the larger level, the abused person needs to ask the abusive person if they want to change their abusive behavior and then engage in an active process of change, most often with professional help. If the abuser does not want to change, the abused person needs to take their own steps on the road to recovery. Being the supportive defender of the abused, Evans is there on each page to help the abused person with the details for their understanding and recovery.

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