Once you realize that you have been living under a lot of verbal abuse, and there is this strong feeling that you will not tolerate it any longer, you need to come up with a plan. In order to reform and change your relationship, and in doing so recover from verbal abuse, you need to cover some basic areas:
1. Realize that you cannot change your partner, only your reaction to him or her. You have probably been showing your partner how damaging these behaviors are and how they are affecting your self-image in the hope that he will change, but getting nowhere.
2. Accept that ultimately you cannot force him. Your partner must recognize it and decide to end the behavior on his or her own, or suffer the consequences.
3. Recognize the abuser’s own insecurity. Abuse most often exists because the abuser is emotionally weak, and feels that by controlling others, he is secure.
4. Establish that all aspects of the relationship are going to be treated with respect. Strictly ban name calling, character judgements, raised voices, etc. Make it clear that if either partner violates these rules, the two of you will separate until you can agree to follow the guidelines again.
5. Accept that mutual respect may never be gained. The important thing is to stay committed to a healthy, nurturing relationship – even if it means you must look for one elsewhere. Without that commitment, it is impossible to recover from verbal abuse.
6. Express yourself. In many cases it is found that both partners hide important emotions, sometimes without realizing it. This is a problem because establishing boundaries requires acknowledging that a situation makes you angry and hurt. When you hide the anger and other emotions, all that is left is fear, and that only perpetuates the abuse.
7. Whether you want to heal the relationship, or simply learn what went wrong, look at the dynamics of your relationship. Why are you together? Is it merely physical attraction, or can you learn from each other intellectually and emotionally as well? Delving into the past is important as well – sometimes, you may help each other unlock old hurts or unlearn aggressive behavior by determining where they came from. Even if you need to end it later, you will leave with a better understanding of yourself and your partner’s relationship.
8. Use your instincts. We assume that our partner is our protector and is charge of our safety, and this is not always true. Only you can decide which decisions and actions are right for you, which will make you happy and which will drain you.
9. Seek professional help. If you have trouble approaching your partner on your own, a third party may be able to help facilitate your approach. It is important that the support system uses a no-blame approach, so that your recovery from emotional abuse occurs in a healthy enviornment.
10. Say goodbye with grace. Sometimes the abuse esclates to a point of no return, and if that is the case, there is no shame in getting yourself out. If you fail to pay attention and recognize that poor treatment is unacceptable, you thwart our chance for happiness.
Nora Femenia, Ph.D is passionate about supporting women’s recovery from emotional abuse once and for all. Nora has created a powerful set of tools for helping women break out of the mind-set that keeps them in a toxic relationship by first discovering unconscious beliefs and family blueprints.