Has a boyfriend ever told you that he knows what you’re REALLY thinking?
He knows what you REALLY meant.
He knows what you REALLY want.
And if you tell him otherwise – “Actually, no, that’s not what I was thinking” – he refuses to believe you.
He knows what’s going through your mind.
He knows you better than you know yourself.
What he’s doing is CRAZY.
And it has a name:
In this week’s YBTV interview, our guest is America’s foremost expert on verbal abuse, Patricia Evans.
Patricia is the author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, which has sold over 700,000 copies worldwide since it came out in 1992.
It’s a book that changes lives. Even if you’ve never heard of verbal abuse before, you may recognize the patterns it describes.
So settle in and watch as we discover what verbal abuse is, why it happens, and what we can do about it….
What You’ll Learn
When we think of verbal abuse, most of us think of someone raging at their partner.
We imagine swearing, raised voices, and ugly threats.
But that’s only one manifestation of verbal abuse.
Verbal abuse also expresses itself in more subtle ways.
- You’re lying on the sofa, exhausted and feeling like you’re coming down with something. Your guys comes in and asks you why you’re lying there. When you tell him, he scoffs at you. “You’re not sick.”
- Your boyfriend is upset, and you can’t get him to open up about what’s going on. “I care about you,” you tell him. “I’m worried.” He retorts, “No, you’re not. You don’t care.”
- Something your guy said yesterday bothered you. Today, you’ve decided to talk to him how it made you feel. He snaps back, “You’re still thinking about that? It was nothing. Stop making a big deal out of everything.”
When someone tries to tell you who you are, what you think, what you want, or what you feel…
It’s verbal abuse.
It’s an attempt to define you, deny the truth of your experience, and erase you as a separate person.
Other examples include:
- “I know what you’re trying to do here.”
- “You think you’re so great.”
- “You just want to argue.”
- “You don’t want that. You want this.”
Why Does He Do That?
If you’ve ever said something completely innocent, and been blindsided by the ferocity of your partner’s response, then you know how crazy it can make you feel.
Why did he act like you’d just attacked him? You didn’t say anything wrong.
You were just trying to express yourself. You were trying to communicate. You were trying to tell him what you needed.
But instead of listening and trying to understand, he’s responded as if you declared war on him.
He may even say: “You’re trying to start a fight.”
Which is “the opposite of the truth,” explains Patricia, “because you’re trying to make the relationship better.”
So what’s going on inside his head?
Why does he act like that?
It’s because he “lost a part of himself in childhood: his warm, receptive, nurturing, emotionally intelligent, intuitive self.”
The Feeling Function
We have four basic functions, Patricia explains:
When the verbally abusive man was a boy, he was told, “Shut up. Don’t cry. Don’t be a baby.” He was told that being a man meant toughening up and not feeling empathy. He learned to suppress his feelings.
As a result, he didn’t fully develop all four functions. He lost his feeling function.
When he grew up, he sought a romantic partner who could fill that missing part in him.
“Psychologically speaking, he has projected a part of himself that never developed into her. She is now his warm, receptive, nurturing self. She is now his feeling function,” Patricia explains.
He needs her to feel whole in himself.
Why He Gets So Angry
No wonder he gets angry when his partner disagrees, or her opinion doesn’t match his.
If his partner says “anything that doesn’t match his mind, he feels attacked.”
The part of him that she represents has vanished. It’s completely disappeared.
“He doesn’t know that he just lost part of his psyche, because she spoke up as if she was a separate person,” Patricia says. “It’s her individuality that triggers him.”
He wants to put her back in her place, as part of himself rather than an independent person with her own thoughts and feelings.
So he affirms his reality over hers.
What You Can Do
If you’re nodding your head here…
And you’re starting to see that these dynamics are present in your own relationship…
Then the first thing you’ll want to do is get Patricia’s book The Verbally Abusive Relationship.
It will shine a light into what you’re experiencing, why it’s happening, and why everything you’ve tried hasn’t worked.
You may also want to check out her other book, The Verbally Abusive Man: Can He Change?
If that’s not enough, and you need personal help, Patricia works one-on-one with women who are struggling to understand what’s going on in their relationship.
She can help you figure out what to say, what to do, and whether you should stay or leave.
I want everybody listening to know there is no one on this planet who can tell you what you want if they don’t ask you. There is no one who can tell you what you think unless they say, “What do you think of this?’ There’s no one who can tell you any of these things, unless they ask you.”
Jump to Topics of Interest
3:07 What is verbal abuse
4:25 Why he verbally abusive?
9:49 How men are raised to lose their feeling function
11:47 The missing part of him
13:04 Couples counseling
15:45 What you can do
18:32 Can he change?
21:14 Verbal abuse at school and at home
Patricia Evans is the bestselling author of four books, including The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out, Controlling People, and The Verbally Abusive Man: Can He Change? A highly acclaimed interpersonal communications specialist, public speaker, and consultant, Evans has appeared on Oprah, CNN, CBS News, and on numerous national radio programs. Her work has been featured in Shape, Newsweek, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Evans lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be reached at VerbalAbuse.com.