Chat with Patricia Evans, author of Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out

CL-mizlizzy: Welcome to "COUNTDOWN TO CHANGE," with special guest Patricia Evans, author of Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out and The Verbally Abusive Relationship, where we'll find out how to recognize and respond to verbal abuse.
Patricia_Evans: Hello everyone. I'm just delighted to be able to be here to talk with you about verbal abuse issues. I've heard from thousands of women who are very concerned about this issue, personally and with regard to their friends. Verbal abuse is insidious and endemic in our culture. Most people don't realize how many kinds of abuse they might experience.
lisa0765: Personally I think that women are verbally abused and are often not even aware of it until they are physically abused.
Patricia_Evans: Most recognize name-calling, but aren't so clear about blaming, accusing, discounting and so forth. We'll learn more here tonight. I'm sure I will learn from you. We will find out why defense usually doesn't work. Explaining can be a trap. Let's find out more.
Cmtdarden: Up first is Tracy_13 for a question.
Tracy_13: I am in a relationship now. It is verbally abusive and sometimes physical. I am setting boundaries that don't seem to be working. What do you suggest?
Patricia_Evans: Tracy_13, it's very important to have outside support. If possible, attend a group through a local shelter. And if possible, have a friend or relative stay at the house.
Tracy_13: I do that already, Patricia. I am trying to leave him, but it's not that easy.
Patricia_Evans: The abuser doesn't want to respect boundaries. If you have children and can't leave, try to find a way to support yourself in the future.
Tracy_13: The guilt can be overwhelming.
Patricia_Evans: Don't tell the abuser you are leaving if you decide to, because the violence could increase.
Tracy_13: Thank you.
Cmtdarden: Up next is RKMN.
RKMN: I left a man last February after four years of verbal abuse. It started out as just name-calling and went almost as far as becoming physical. I left just. Now I am in a new relationship, but after six months of counseling I still suffer from it. Is there anything I can do to fight it or work through it so it doesn't ruin my new relationship? It's too wonderful to lose.
Saskafras: I sometimes think a slap would have been better then the swearing.
Patricia_Evans: RKMN, it's natural to feel insecure -- and even traumatized -- after four years of abuse. Keep focusing on taking care of yourself, earning money, treating yourself well, making new friends and having women friends. You will feel stronger each day. Remember that verbal abuse can last a long time, but the impact will lessen and you will gradually feel stronger.
RKMN: I have great friends -- even my guy is great and very understanding and supportive of me throughout these times.
Patricia_Evans: If you feel concerned about something your new relationship says to you, say "What?"
RKMN: But I hate myself for how I get sometimes because of my ex-husband.


Patricia_Evans: Maybe check with your counselor so that you are clear that this person respects you.
RKMN: He does respect me and supports all I have been through.
Patricia_Evans: RKMN, I hope he stays supportive. Watch for any signs if and when you become engaged or live together, because that's when some men change.
RKMN: We live together now and there's no change.
Tracy_13: That's when mine changed.
Cmtdarden: Up next is freakyfairy.
Freakyfairy: I have been separated from my husband for several months. At first he was in another relationship. Once it ended, he wanted to get back with me. He became forceful and insulting -- bordering on verbal abuse -- telling me no one else would want me. I became somewhat involved with someone online, and he became irate and made threats. He said he wouldn't pay the phone bill and he threatened to trash my computer. How do I break this tie with him? How do I make it clear that it's over, that we're getting divorced and he needs to stop harassing me? Lately he has gotten really bad. He tells me I am ugly and no one else will love me, that he is my only chance. How do I make him stop? I would like to eventually have another relationship, but I can't until he leaves me alone.
Patricia_Evans: Freakyfairy, change your phone number and get a P.O. box. Get someone to check your mail and toss anything that comes from him. Move if you have to. Give him an attorney or a trusted friend's contact number.
Freakyfairy: The thing is, HE owns the house I live in and HE pays the bills.
Patricia_Evans: File the papers if that's what you intend to do.
Freakyfairy: I cannot move at this time -- it's not possible -- but I have already filed.
Patricia_Evans: It is important to know that threatening and forcefulness in the way you describe IS abuse. So he is not just moving toward abuse. He is definitely abusive.
Freakyfairy: He insists on seeing the kids whenever he wants. I took away his key and stuff but he comes over whenever he pleases. He owns the house I live in and he pays the bills. I have nowhere to go, I have no choice. I don't work and have two small kids.
Patricia_Evans: Another book (not mine), The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker, may also enlighten you. And, of course, The Verbally Abusive Relationship book is important to read so you can recognize abuse for what it is.
Freakyfairy: I will have to read that.
Cmtdarden: Up next is peozeeo.
Peozeeo: How do you define verbal abuse? What about lack of communication? The man in my life gets angry and doesn't speak to me for three or four days (we don't live together). Is this non-communication a kind of abuse, or is it just stupidity or disrespect?
Patricia_Evans: Peozeeo, withholding is the first category of verbal abuse. It defines you as non-existent. Words that define are abusive.
Cmtdarden: Up next is swfl.
Swfl: Can abusers recover? I'm talking about periodic sexual abuse as punishment and emotional abuse, no hitting. I also have BPD, which doesn't help; I'm not sure if it's always him or sometimes the BPD. It's so confusing.


Patricia_Evans: Swfl, sexual and verbal abuse are very serious. Keep a tape recorder on and tell him you are keeping it on so you can track what is being said. Tell him it's for your own benefit so you can make sure that you are speaking supportively, kindly and factually.
Swfl: I've said this but never done it -- great idea! Can they recover?
Patricia_Evans: If he objects, then he is not being supportive and it is not a good relationship for you. If there is any sexual assault or sex required of you that you don't want, please contact a sexual abuse agency or hotline.
CMtdarden: Up next is californiablu
Californiablu: I work with domestic abuse, and see this all the time: Women are abused and then refuse to prosecute. How can you make women realize they don't have to take abuse?
Patricia_Evans: Californblu, their reality is shaped by verbal abuse. They are constantly blamed and accused. And the culture even asks them what their part was in it. This terrible confusion leads to fear and feelings of powerlessness.
Californiablu: Most of what I see is physical. The new domestic laws aren't working because women aren't following through.
Patricia_Evans: Only since 1992 have we had words to describe and name a verbally abusive relationship. We have a way to go, but if every one of us does our best to reach others, to bring awareness, to tell women what abuse is -- and that there are ways to get away from an abuser -- we will see change.
Cmtdarden: Up next is mboggs123.
Mboggs123: I have read both of your books and have lived with my abuser for seven years now. He has been both physically and verbally abusive to me. He now says he wants to change his ways. I'm not sure if I could ever believe that, though. And I am not sure if I want to stick around that long. How many of these men actually change?
Patricia_Evans: Mboggs123, a good percentage of the very few who want with all their heart and soul to change. If they want to change, they have to read books, learn new ways of communicating and enter men's programs.
Mboggs123: He says he will enter programs but never follows through with it.
Patricia_Evans: Enter men's programs, get intense therapy and face the fact that, even if they make good progress, their partner may remain so traumatized that she may not want to stay.
Cmtdarden: Up next is saskafras.
Saskafras: Can a man really change? My husband of 18 years is in an alternatives program (an accountability advocacy program) and is taking counseling to deal with his anger and rage. I am so scared that this is the honeymoon stage and than he will go back to his old self. If he can change, will I trust him again and love with my whole heart?
Patricia_Evans: Saskafras, per my last message, some women don't ever really truly trust again. But he needs to change for himself. He may also have mood disorders and need medical treatment.
Saskafras: He is taking medication for that.
Patricia_Evans: It sounds like he is working. It may take years, but it is still important work.
Saskafras: I am just so tired of working and trying. I feel like I am sometimes beating my head against a brick wall.


Patricia_Evans: Saskafras, I hear from many women who are exhausted or suffering from chronic fatigue. The stress is so great that many stress-related illnesses show up eventually. Staying with an abuser is exhausting!
Saskafras: Thank you.
Cmtdarden: Patricia, can you explain to us maybe why more women end up in domestic abuse situations?
Patricia_Evans: Cmdarden, it is because women are physically smaller, are better able to know pain and are more concerned that they may inflict pain on another. Also, they are more whole, more able to feel and are allowed to have feelings by the culture, which does not damage them spiritually in the same way it damages men.
Cmtdarden: Patricia, also is it because we get stuck with not having a job and raising the kids?
Patricia_Evans: This makes it possible.
Cmtdarden: I read on our boards this very thing -- that because women are stuck home with the kids, they can't afford to move out, and that is why they stay.
Patricia_Evans: Cmdarden, yes, it takes a big plan. Some women have planned for several years, even five or so. A shelter in my county can put women up for as long as two years.
CL_Prezel: I went through several years of abuse with my husband (I can tell you that if he did NOW what he did then, I would not go through it again). BUT he changed because he was ready to. Even after a rape and a promise to not drink anymore, it continued until he was ready to quit. Don't wait like I did. Seek counseling for yourself to help YOU, and they will follow -- if they want to.
Patricia_Evans: CL_Prezel, right on!
Tracy_13: Patricia, my abuser tells me it's all my fault. Even though I know I am a woman of dignity, honor and self-respect, he knows the buttons to push and uses them.
CL_Prezel: Please remember that if you lose sight of YOU, then you lose the most important aspect of your life: your dignity and self-respect. Don't let that happen. Don't let them feed your mind with their twisted thinking. You must remember that they are sick and not able to think with a rational mind. It is so easy to be pulled down into their world. DONT LET THAT HAPPEN!
Tracy_13: Thanks, Prezel, I needed to hear that. Thank you for your support! I will cherish those few words you have given me. I will allow them to give me strength.
Cmtdarden: Patricia can you tell us more? We have some time in between questions.
Patricia_Evans: I will say that thousands and thousands of women have contacted me just to say "thank you," sometimes even leaving messages in the middle of the night. Until they read The Verbally Abusive Relationship, they were confused, unsure if they were doing something wrong or if something could be wrong with them.
Carrie_Ep2000: Society tells them something is wrong with them.
Patricia_Evans: Believe me, when someone tells you that you're too sensitive, they are abusing you and it can make you feel crazy.
CL-mizlizzy: An abuser destroys your self-esteem.


Patricia_Evans: It's up to us to not let this knowledge disappear, but to share it with our daughters, our mothers, our sisters, our grandmothers and our friends.
Tracy_13: I will get a copy of your book, Patricia. I didn't know it was out there until tonight. Thank you for being here.
Patricia_Evans: Tracy_13, thanks! Keep spreading the word. We'll all do our part. Take care.
Cmtdarden: Up next is mboggs123.
Mboggs123: Patricia, do you have any more books coming out soon? And have you ever been involved in an abusive relationship yourself?
Patricia_Evans: Yes, my next book on "control" will be out by Adams Media Corp within a year. I think it will be the most important of all, giving us answers we've never had before, and changing some abusers' thinking. I've heard verbal abuse. I've heard it from my grandmother, who was kind of crazy, an uncle and people I've met socially in the workplace. It's all around us!
Mboggs123: Thank you.
Cmtdarden: Up next is swfl.
Swfl: What type of therapy do you recommend for the abuser?
Patricia_Evans: For women, I recommend good support -- one-on-one -- and also any group if you can find one. For men, I recommend a men's group, personal therapy and, of course, I help men a lot in my consultations. I think they need an education.
Swfl: Thank you. What about the abuser?
Patricia_Evans: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, along with these recommendations, can often be effective.
Cmtdarden: Up next is alittlejoy.
Alittlejoy: I left my husband after years of begging him to do things with me, him refusing and not letting me do any of it. Now he is telling me how much fun he is having doing the very same things I begged him to do. How can I get rid of this anger toward him? I'm happy he's doing these things, but why didn't he when I was there?
Patricia_Evans: Because he will not do these things with a person he feels he's very close to in marriage or a long-term relationship. He will only do them with new people or new women he is trying to get. This is quite common with this type of personality. When you realize how sick he is, you'll pity him more than you'll feel anger.
Cmtdarden: Up next is carrie_ep2000.
Carrie_Ep2000: In helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse, how do you suggest future work with batterers?
Patricia_Evans: Well, primarily they need an education. Before I will do a consultation with a verbal or physical batterer, I require that they read several books. Women have been reading self-help books for years, but men seldom do. They need a broad education about emotional deprivation, domestic violence and books that include profiles of abusers and victims.
Carrie_Ep2000: You believe that self-help books will help a batterer?
Patricia_Evans: Men's books, Stolentenberg's books and my books could help -- anything their librarians can find on domestic violence to help them want to wake up. If enough women leave them, they sometimes want to change. We can't put up with it or it will just go on. They are so unconscious and ignorant.


Cmtdarden: Up next is momanine1.
momanine1: My husband and I have been married for 21 years. I've been abused over at least half of that time. I have asked him to leave and give me a divorce, but he refuses. I know that I have never felt so sad, scared and alone in all of my life. Will this feeling ever go away? I have no self-esteem and sometimes I believe the horrible things he says to me. Will I ever be a normal woman and be able to feel happiness again? Or is this a permanent feeling?
Patricia_Evans: Once you are out of an abusive situation, your psyche will heal over time. In most states, one does not need permission to get a divorce. I don't understand how he cannot "give you one."
Momanine: He won't leave.
Patricia_Evans: If he won't leave, can you leave? Are there relatives, shelters, friends or church groups available to you?
Cmtdarden: We will not have time for any more questions, but please feel free to post on the Domestic Abuse: Countdown to Change message board. Patricia will now give us a wrap-up for tonight's chat.
Patricia_Evans: I hope that the knowledge in my book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, will reach every woman, because so many women suffer from verbal abuse and just don't know what's wrong. They feel that if they are nicer, their mate will be nicer, that if they try harder, the relationship will be better. Some women have even committed themselves to mental institutions to "find out what was wrong with them." This is because verbal abuse is so prevalent that there are some human beings on planet Earth who believe they can tell other people what to think, what to do, how they should be, what they mean and so on. This is horrifying! Please spread the word on verbal abuse. I am thrilled to have been able to be here tonight to talk with you. Thank you for your questions. You can email me if you have more questions at evansbooks@aolcom or check my Website at www.patriciaevans.com.
CL-mizlizzy: Thank you so much, Patricia Evans, what an excellent chat!
Cmtdarden: Patricia, thank you for joining us for tonight's chat. I know the board is keeping you busy with all the need out there.
CL_Prezel: We would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Patricia Evans for coming in and giving us all such wonderful advice. THANK YOU Patricia, keep up the wonderful crusade!
Tracy_13: I feel so much more normal just hearing the words you have spoken this evening. Thanks.
Patricia_Evans: Thank you all again!

Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow http://t.co/wfewf

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

Best of the Web