On relationships and recovery

Patricia Evans

If your partner: seems irritated or angry at you several times a week; denies being angry when he clearly is; does not work with you to resolve important issues; rarely or never seems to share thoughts or plans with you; or tells you that he has no idea what you're talking about when you try to discuss important need this book.

[from the back cover]

Evans, Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out

About the Author

Patricia Evans has worked extensively in counseling and recovery settings with battered women. After her first book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, was published, she received hundreds of letters from verbal abuse survivors around the world. Those letters form the basis of this book.

[from the softbound edition]

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

         The Survivors  15

Chapter 2

         Oppression and Control  30

Chapter 3

         Disintegration  44

Chapter 4

         Awakening Awareness  56

Chapter 5

         Blame  76

Chapter 6

         Killing the Spirit  90

Chapter 7

         Trapped in the Dragon's Realm 105

Chapter 8

         Escape 124

Chapter 9

         The Survey and the Wildcat Story 141

Chapter 10

         The Top Five Abuses and the Closed Relationship 150

Chapter 11

         Coping 156

Chapter 12

         Changes 177

Chapter 13

         Healing and Recovery 196

Chapter 14

         The Sixty-Minute Me and Self-Esteem 211

Chapter 15

         The Support Group 220

Chapter 16

         Affirmations 230


         Appendix 241
         Index 255

[from the softbound edition]


"A groundbreaking new book."


"This is a new day in America; the most important thing is to realize that you don't deserve to be treated that way."

--Oprah Winfrey

"A great, great book."

--Sonya Friedman,
host of CNN's Sonya Live

"A significant contribution to the literature on domestic violence. Victims of verbal abuse, their families, and community professionals called upon for assistance will find this book a valuable alternative."

--Rollie Mullin, Executive Director
Battered Women's Alternatives

[from the back cover]

Read more reviews of this book on the website:
Verbal Abuse:
Survivors Speak Out on Relationship and Recovery

Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out on


We take for granted that from grade school on, girls and boys will learn appropriate communication skills--and will also learn what is inappropriate. The very idea that an adult would diminish and try to control another can seem unthinkable in a society that values its freedom. Indeed, a young woman of intelligence, education, and talent may find it ludicrous that anyone would imagine they should be in charge of her. Such control is simply oppression; she knows that. Nonetheless, if she should find herself in such a relationship she may find it difficult to convince her mate of this.

It is the "unthinkableness" of this kind of abuse that seems to baffle many women. Even when they "know," they ask, "Why would he do this to me?" The woman who wrote, "I thought I could change him through love" is typical of many. Over a period of many years, despite her desire to understand her mate, she could not identify the real issue in her relationship. He wanted not only to control her but also to vent his feelings with impunity. All the while, she believed that he only felt a bit insecure and needed to feel more loved.

Many survivors held the belief that if they were extra kind and giving, if they were extremely loving and generous and nourishing, their mates would feel loved, secure, and more confident, and would then be happier, kinder and warmer toward them--and certainly more appreciative. They reasoned that their mates would not feel the need to put them down to feel more important if they, the women, could make the mate feel important. This belief turns out to be false.

Verbal Abuse:
Survivors Speak Out on Relationship and Recovery

page 54

If you are considering a new relationship, watch out for extremes. Be aware. Beware of excessively razzle-dazzle types and overly ardent suitors. Be aware of any familiarity not explicitly granted, for example calling you "honey" or "kid" when you've just met, or stopping by and then settling in before being asked.

Survivors who know say that if they have the slightest hint that something is wrong, if you feel a little twinge of a strange feeling, or a little sinking feeling, or are even just a bit frustrated by someone's behavior, then they do not put themselves in a relationship with that person. If at all possible they have no more contact with that person. It is healthy to show yourself the same protective caring you would show your own child.

Once this controlling personality has "hooked" you, what abuse can he do to feel in control?
to dominate you?
to tell you what to do? or
what to wear? or
what you think? or
what you feel? or
what you said? or
how you are?

Here are some additional guidelines for evaluating relationships.

  • Does he express an interest in your thoughts, ideas and achievements?
  • Do you truthfully feel good and nourished after spending time with him?
  • Do you find your conversations with him rich, interesting and satisfying?
  • Do you share some interests?
  • Is he tense--or relaxed?
  • Are your values similar?
  • Is he rigid--or mellow?
  • Is he happy--or depressed?
  • Is he pleasantly outgoing--or withdrawn?
  • Is he naturally conversational with others--or does he put on a show?
  • Does he tell you what to do?
  • Does he hear what you say and honor what he hears?

Verbal Abuse:
Survivors Speak Out on Relationship and Recovery

pages 64-65

The survey of 250 survivors...asked respondents to identify the five forms of verbal abuse they experienced most frequently. Although nearly all respondents said that they had frequently suffered from all categories of verbal abuse, they agreed to rank the five most frequent. Here are the abuses most frequently cited, beginning with the most common.

Category of Abuse
Abusive Anger 192
Accusing and Blaming 161
Judging & Criticizing 159
Withholding 124
Denial 106

..The top five abuses operate to "imprison" the partner in the verbally abusive relationship. The partner of the abuser has been made the enemy by the abuser's anger. Because of accusation and blame she comes to believe she is the cause, so the problem becomes unsolvable. She feels defenseless from criticism that seems to confirm that something is wrong about her. She is imprisoned by her mate's withholding. The door to change is closed--the discussion is ended. Finally, even future possibilities for freedom in the relationship are lost when denial is used--"It never happened at all."

Survivors have described feeling disempowered and trapped in abusive relationships. Most (71 percent) say they do feel trapped in their relationships. One reason this is so is that there is no exchange of thoughts and feelings in the closed relationship.

When an abuser will not actively discuss his behavior and listen with care and attention to his mate, or when he will not change, the relationship itself is inflexible. After all, a relationship is only as strong as its weakest aspect. Rigid relationships are prone to disintegrate and finally end because healthy and necessary change cannot take place.

Verbal Abuse:
Survivors Speak Out on Relationship and Recovery

pages 150-151

[from the softbound edition]

Read more about this book on the website:
Verbal Abuse:
Survivors Speak Out on Relationship and Recovery

Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out on

Verbal Abuse:
Survivors Speak Out
on Relationship and Recovery

Patricia Evans's book
Verbal Abuse:
Survivors Speak Out on Relationship and Recovery

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Buy Patricia Evans's Book

Other Books by
Patricia Evans

Learn more about these books also written by Patricia Evans:

The Verbally Abusive Relationship:
How to Recognize It and How to Respond

Controlling People:
How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal
with People Who Try to Control You

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