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Doc@DrIrene.com

An Analysis of The Abuser's Language

by The Abused Judge

Bravo Judge G! Astute, accurate, on target. This one is required reading. Thank you for your contribution. -Dr. Irene

In corresponding with other persons who have experienced abusive relationships. I have found that the abuse is generally first identified by abused partners only as temper tantrums or fits of rage. For the fortunate ones who discover their problem, that is usually the initial indicator that there is something wrong with their relationship. (Sometimes there are no fits! Sometimes it is just criticism or withholding or control...)

I've looking over my years in an abusive relationship: no knowledge of the abusive phenomenon and its roots and indicators - and compared it to the last year: full knowledge of the issues. I have discovered that my inability to effectively communicate with an abusive partner is a bigger problem than the anger and rage. Of course I recognize that being a male, the physical danger of her rage is less of a threat. Taking that into account, I still recognize the total lack of communication experienced in abusive relationships as the larger issue. I find that to be the case even after reading the Patricia Evans book, viewing your site, and several other sources of information on the subject. 

Many persons have trouble recognizing the depth of the communication problems in these relationships. I correspond regularly with several persons in this predicament and still find them asking questions such as "why would he say that" and "what do you think he meant by that". My personal experience with attempting to communicate with an abuser is simply: they speak a different language than their partner. (Let's call it "MeMe.") That is an easy way to sum up the many different statements they use to control, frighten, confuse, or intimidate their partners. Normal mentally healthy persons in a relationship  use language to consciously convey their thoughts to their partner. Abusers however use language to manipulate their partners into giving them what they want. Sometimes consciously, sometimes not. In fact, I believe that abusers learn to use manipulation so well, that it actually becomes a language to them, and they eventually lose conscious control of their responses. 

Their language is actually a tool to protect themselves from emotional exposure. Even when their relationships appear to be even-keeled, they are often setting themselves up for future verbal victories. I say that since having studied this matter intricately, I can accurately predict my partners response to given circumstances - which would have resulted in emotional exposure nearly every time. This makes it very clear to me that there has never been any communication nor can there ever be without intense professional  therapyYes. And even then, its an "if." Abusers are so afraid to expose themselves and so bent on control that they know know other way. They can't speak our language. They have no idea how to speak a language that would require considering the needs and wants of others.

 I believe that after food and shelter, the most basic human need is to be understood and accepted. That's why I also believe that the lack of communication is by far the most frustrating and destructive part of the abusive relationship. You can't even solve minor issues involving children or finance without being attacked or accused of attacking. That is what really wears the partner down. Not their rage and anger, but your daily frustration and loneliness . Yes!

One of the most frustrating and common habits of abusers is to constantly "butt in" and cut off their partner while talking. This is frequently the most aggravating habit many abusers have. They can't give it up because it serves some very important purposes. It blocks any possibility of communication, it allows them to say whatever they want, and most importantly it gives them total control of the conversation.


Usually partners try reasoning with them about all sides being given a fair chance to talk. What they don't realize is that abusers don't really care what their partners are saying so it serves them no purpose to listen. In fact, the abuser would prefer that the partner not talk and simply accept their assertions as Gospel. When the partner learns this, they can truly have an understanding of the hopelessness of fixing an abusive relationship without professional counseling. Their is no possibility of communication if one of the parties is determined not to communicate.

Another very destructive habit which I have identified in my relationship I refer to as "echoing". This abusive habit is extremely destructive to a relationship, yet is a very effective tool which the abuser uses to in conversation. This habit takes two distinct forms. The object is to feel whatever the partner feels whenever an "attack" is detected by the abuser. The scenario goes something like this:
______________________________________________


Partner: I don't like what you said to me this morning

Abuser: I don't like what you say to me either 
______________________________________________

This is an easy way for the abuser to avoid addressing your concerns, remain in control, change the subject, and launch a counter attack. You may also notice that this avoids answering a question. Abusers DO NOT ANSWER QUESTIONS!!! That is perceived by them as giving up control. They generally answer a question with a question in attempt to through the partner off balance and regain control. They will do this repeatedly until you capitulate or until they provoke an argument. This also has the added benefit of teaching the partner not to bring any complaints to the attention of the abuser. The second form is to accuse the partner of whatever the partner accuses them of.  Scenario 2:
_______________________________________________
Partner: Please don't raise your voice at me

Abuser (Screaming): You're the one that's yelling
OR
Partner: Please stop cutting me off and let me finish my sentence

Abuser (angrily): You're the one who cuts me off all of the time  
________________________________________________

When the conversation is discussed later, the abuser quickly takes the opportunity to first accuse the partner of the infraction and seize the high ground. The abuser will then take every opportunity in the future to accuse the partner of doing what they do saying "see, you do it too". This is generally viewed by the abuser as a way out. Anytime they accuse you of an action similar to one of their destructive actions, that is viewed by them as a license to do it at will and a "win".  

There are many other "tricks used by abusers to avoid communication," but these are two of the most common  which I've encountered. I think the key is to understand that the abuser's language is not the same as a normal person. That their "language" does not convey their thoughts and is in fact designed to do just the opposite. Once we understand this we also learn that we can't, and shouldn't want to, speak their language. However, if we have to deal with them, for whatever reason, we can learn to interpret their words and phrases enough to decipher the true meanings.  Unfortunately, learning this "language" also seems to more clearly show the hopelessness of establishing a normal relationship with a person of this mentality.

Caution: While the Judge is a smart man, he is not a trained mental health professional. This site & Dr. Irene do not endorse "advice" given by the Judge. -Dr. Irene 12/6/99

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