Friendship

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One of the hardest things to bear about being in a verbally abusive relationship is the isolation – particularly if the abuse only happens ‘behind closed doors’.

The bruises of physical abuse explain themselves. A bruised heart lies hidden. There is no way to explain to people who see only the ‘face’ that the abuser reserves for outsiders.

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alone-sad

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To the logical mind there has to be a reason why someone is consistently unkind to just one person, yet great with everyone else. If you try to explain what’s going on in your life, other people, not understanding the dynamics of verbal abuse, will naturally assume that you must be doing something wrong.

They are, therefore, likely to give you inappropriate advice such as telling you that, if you try harder or be a bit nicer, your relationship will be better. They may well even distance themselves from you.

Only sociable side

It’s even more difficult with family who are fond of the abuser and see only their sociable side. In fact, even when other people recognise that there are problems in a relationship, it can be very difficult for them to figure out who is actually at fault in the relationship.  Tragically, the emotional reactions of the one who is being abused can cause other people to assume that the victim is  the one who is at fault. At the very least, they may think that it’s probably ‘six of one and half a dozen of the other’.

Verbal abusers usually choose friends who share their interests or sports. These are invariably superficial  relationships, since verbal abusers don’t have much depth to their character. There may be plenty of humour – but very little deep discussion or sharing.

If you happen to be among a group of these friends, you are unlikely to find yourself included in the camaraderie – unless it’s as the target of disparaging humour. Or  you will find yourself ‘on the edge’ of the group – ignored.

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woman-excluded

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Verbal abusers may expect you to associate with their friends. They rarely take more than a passing interest in your friends.

Even with your own friends, you may find that the isolation of your situation is hard for them to understand, particularly if you don’t feel that you can explain properly.

Victims of verbal abuse can spend many years trying to live a ‘normal’ life; trying to keep relationships going – and all the time feeling too ashamed or embarrased to explain what it really happening in their lives.

Explaining doesn’t work

Perhaps in the past you’ve tried to explain, but found that it didn’t work; people just didn’t ‘get’ it; or they began to tire of the friendship because foursomes never happened.

They may have observed in you the emotional consequences of a recent abusive incident but, having no idea of the cause, conclude that you are simply over-emotional, over-sensitive or moody.

When you are living with constant verbal abuse or disparagement, you ‘run’ on a quarter-full emotional ‘tank’; you have little emotional reserve; it’s being drained on a daily basis. ‘Walking on eggshells’ all the time requires a great deal of emotional energy.

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alone-girlA

 

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And so it becomes easier to be alone – so you don’t have to act as if everything is fine simply because you can’t explain why it isn’t. And yet you long for real companionship; the thing you hoped for in your relationship but never found. You hear other couples talk about their partner being their best friend and you can’t imagine what that must be like. Or, if the verbal abuse is coming from a parent, you look at others who take unconditional love for granted, and long for that kind of family situation.

Brainwashing effect

All the time the brainwashing effect of constant disparagement insidiously creeps into your heart, convincing you that you are not worth having as a friend. And  it’s your heart that you live out of, rather than your head – it’s your heart that drives your emotional reactions and your behaviour – it’s your heart that will eventually betray you if you stay isolated.

You need a friend who understands; someone who has been through what you are going through; someone who can validate your experience and feelings; someone who can tell you what works and what doesn’t work.

lightbulb-idea

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Books about verbal abuse are incredibly valuable; you must experience that ‘lightbulb moment’ to open your eyes to what’s really happening in your life. This is what will finally convince you that it’s not your fault  and that there’s no point in trying to explain yourself to someone who has no desire to understand your feelings. But you need to get your ‘story’ out too; you need to release all the years of suppressed grief; you need someone you can talk to – and you need to know that you are not alone.

A brave face

You will have spent a very long time feeling alone in your relationship; alone in your family; alone in a crowd. You will have spent years living a double life, putting on a brave face for no better reason than you had no choice, since there was no way to explain. You need to find someone you have no need to explain these things to; someone who already knows.

If you have no one, join an online support group – you will be surprised how many of these sites there are out there. Just the realisation that there are so many will convince you that you are not alone; that there are many thousands of people out there who have suffered what you are suffering in silence. You can learn from books on verbal abuse about strategies to  prevent the abuser’s tactics from being effective. You will find understanding friends through online support sites. And from both you will learn about the necessity of tough love

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