|Here at Direct from Patricia you will find a questions and answer section entitled Ask Evans.
Also you will find Important Stuff.
At its 1998 Annual Chapter forum, The American Academy of Pediatrics passed resolution No. 60 titled, "Recognition and Reduction of Verbal Abuse in High School Sports." The outcome of this resolution will be a much greater awareness of verbal abuse by young people as this information is presented by the committee through various guidelines made available to schools.
ABOUT COUNSELING, THERAPY AND VERBAL ABUSE
Every month I receive hundreds of requests from all over the US and sometimes from Canada, Alaska, England and Australia for counselors and support groups who understand verbally abusive relationships. I often offer consulting services and I try to find a good referral for the caller for on-going support.
I frequently add new names to my list of referals people who understand the dynamics of verbally abusive relationships. Usually my readers refer them to me. These counselors and therapists recognize the signs of verbal abuse. They've read the literature. Some have also been trained to work at shelters and centers for the abused. Some have attended one or more of my workshops on verbal abuse.
Because they know the impact of ongoing verbal abuse (overt or covert) successful counselors don't stand by and watch one person accuse, define or discount another person. They ask questions. They don't stand by and watch abuse. They are especially aware that victims may be convinced that they are "blowing things out of proportion" or as "stupid" or "crazy" as they are told. They are also aware that the abuser may define the partner as well as the relationship right in front of them. These counselors don't remain silent, giving tacit approval to abuse.
However some counselors, through no fault of their own, know little or nothing about verbally abusive relationships. Some have not even read one book on the topic, attended one workshop, or completed one training on the issue.
A woman agreed to share with me, and with you, a letter she wrote to her counselor who apparently had no idea what verbal abuse was about. Here it is.
Dear Dr. ___,
I appreciated meeting you and I am sure you are a highly trained, very competent psychologist. It must be very difficult when you sit down with a couple, whose stories are entirely contradictory, to figure out where the truth lies. I am not certain how familiar you are with verbal abuse or the various forms and disguises it takes. Verbal abuse was happening right during the counseling session and you didn't seem to notice it. That is understandable, since you have only seen us together for 1 ½ hours and I have lived with Mr. ___ for over 30 years (20 or more of which were abusive).
Even though it has happened to me multiple times before, it is very traumatic to sit across from my husband (who claims to love me) look into his face and hear him tell one lie after another. You did not know they were lies. How could you? My husband is a master of denial and disguise, which has been very hard for me to realize, admit and come to terms with. He does it so well. I do not know what to do in the face of such blatant, outrageous lies especially when my husband comes across as credible. Getting abused all over again, right in your office, is not my idea of a therapeutic counseling session.
You will believe what you will believe and I cannot change that. May I suggest in the future, however, that when a woman comes to you seeking help and healing from a verbally and sometimes physically abusive relationship, that you start out by believing her and asking hard questions to confront the husband's lies. Otherwise, the therapy itself can add to the already existing abuse, causing immeasurable trauma and other detrimental consequences. If I had a black eye and broken arm, you would believe I was being abused. However, since verbal abuse almost always takes place behind closed doors and leaves no visible scars although the heart and spirit have deep and hidden scars it is nearly impossible to recognize the abuse. I did not just suddenly, for no reason, grow fearful of my husband. On the contrary, I grew fearful after years and years of overt and covert abuse. Since you do not know what I have lived with or what I have lived without, it may be impossible for you to see it.
I am writing this in the hope that it can help future clients when they come to you frightened and traumatized from verbal abuse. I am even sending you a copy of The Verbally Abusive Relationship in the hope that, if you have not already read it, you will and if you have already read it, you will read it again. When I read the book, it was like reading the story of my own life and I suddenly knew that what was happening to me had a name. It is called verbal abuse, a formidable, insidious and destructive kind of abuse. Did I deserve such abuse? No. Nearly all verbal abuse is unwarranted and unprovoked.
I am not writing this, in any way, to criticize or devalue you as a professional therapist. I simply want to give you information that may help future clients. Because of my own experience, I have strong feelings about verbal abuse and the needless suffering and torment that many women endure year after year. They are looking for hope and for someone to believe what happened to them.
Although you were not able to help my husband and me, I pray that others will benefit greatly from, not only your skill, but also your wisdom, compassion and discernment. When a woman comes to you traumatized and fearful of her husband, you might consider wondering how she got that way. Am if afraid of my husband? Yes. Do I sometimes have nightmares about the horrific ways he has treated me? Yes. Do I therefore have difficulty trusting him? Yes. Am I uncomfortable, even being in the same room with him? Yes. Yes, yes and yes again. But why? How did a normally joyful, outgoing and trusting woman suddenly become terrified of only one thing her husband? I would say that deserves deeper investigation. Did I believe in marriage? With all my heart, yes. Do I want to be married? Yes. I just no longer am willing to live with a man who abuses me, denies it all and shows no remorse. Never, Never again.
Thank-you for listening to my heart. I pray God's blessings on you and your practice, Dr. ___. And I am indeed sorry that you could not help my husband and me. I wish you well...