In recognition of International Women’s Day with The Wellness Universe, please enjoy Mateja Petje’s article on recognizing verbal and emotional abuse:
Are you or somebody you know exposed to verbal and emotional abuse? All my life I have been an advocate of stopping abuse at its roots. Many times verbal and emotional abuse is just a stepping stone to physical abuse. I have been a victim of verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse from an early age and it took me many years of therapy and healing to find forgiveness in my heart; yet something as deep as this can never go away.
Harsh words and criticism still hurt me however now I am able to say NO, this is not acceptable and detach from people who mistreat me. I am a highly sensitive person and I am not ashamed anymore about that. I describe my spiritual journey this in my book “My Journey to Self-Discovery, A Memoir of my Slovenian Roots and Growth in America” (details at the bottom)
I used to keep attracting the “wrong” people in my life who had mistreated me the same way that my mom did. It is an ongoing healing journey. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise. If I didn’t learn how to heal, and adopt techniques that work, I wouldn’t have been able to help thousands of people in my clinical practice. Especially women really resonate with my story and it gives them hope that if they continue healing and working on self-love, things will change and they will finally feel good about themselves.
In her book, “You Can’t Say No To Me” Suzette Haden Elgin speaks about the importance of recognizing abuse. Awareness is the first step. Two major risk factors for illness and injury are HOSTILITY and LONELINESS. People who are hostile or lonely (or both) get sick and injured MORE OFTEN. Verbal abuse is literally DANGEROUS to our health, in the SAME WAY that contaminated food and polluted water and toxic waste. I have been suffering from anxiety and depression all my life which was directly related to the trauma associated with the abuse. Luckily, I knew early in my life that it is NOT MY FAULT. Working with a compassionate therapist was key to my healing.
If you are the victim of verbal abuse, here are some guidelines:
1. No verbal abuser can achieve their goals of verbal abuse without the PARTICIPATION of a verbal victim.
2. Because it takes for both abuser and victim to carry out verbal abuse, the victim shares SOME responsibility for what happens and the victim is not helpless. I will add that you can leave the person or situation if the abuser is not open to getting professional help.
3. There are other ways that don’t involve pleading and interacting to achieve your goal of putting an end to the hurtful behavior.
4. The ONLY way to deal effectively with the abuse is to use LANGUAGE (including body language) – make it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR to the abuser that you WILL NOT serve as a verbal victim.
What helped me in addition to therapy are some other techniques and approaches:
- Journaling (I’ve been journaling since age 9 and that’s how I was able to write my book)
- Meditation (I’ve been meditating now over 15 years)
- Working with a therapist and energy medicine healers