Sanctuary for the Abused
Monday, June 05, 2006
COMMENTS ON VERBAL ABUSE FROM JEWISH TEACHINGS
3 strategies to avoid arguments.
Well, the strategies to avoid arguments drew arguments ... so, I thought it best to respond for the sake of creating peace in the world ....
I received the following note:
"I have a very hard time accepting how you would encourage someone to accept verbal abuse. Whether or not the spouse erred in saying or doing something, that person still does not deserve to be degraded for ANY reason. It is not enough to say silently to yourself that your spouse is insane.
Verbal abuse will wear down a person as well as the marriage. No matter how strong you are, pain is still felt. Although the scars from verbal abuse may not be visually seen, they are no different from physical scars from physical abuse."
Of course the writer is right; one should not be the object of verbal abuse and it is 100% wrong to verbally abuse someone. If it is a chronic situation, definitely counseling is vital. A person who is being verbally abused has to make a choice to either stay in the relationship or get out of the relationship. Oftentimes, it is very difficult to get out of a relationship. Then a person has to work out strategies to make the best of the situation. It is far better to reframe that the abuser is temporarily insane than to think the person is normal and his verbal abuse has merit; it will lessen a person from wearing down. (site owner: I disagree with this VEHEMENTLY as it minimizes & oks the abuse!!)
Ask yourself a question: Is a person who verbally abuses his spouse insane or sane? Here is the person (we'll use a husband for example) he chose to marry, to be the mother of his children, his life partner and he is verbally abusing her? Is that sane? Will it lead to fixing the situation, greater love, greater harmony in the relationship, a better atmosphere for the children? What will it sanely accomplish? Zero, zip, zilch - just a power ego-trip that won't even make the abuser feel better. Is that insane?
If yes, then isn't it better to see that and recognize that as the source rather than thinking the spouse is correct in his words - which will be far more damaging and wearing to the one who is abused?
A person who is being verbally abused has two options - keep quiet or speak up. If he or she speaks up more than likely it is oil on the fire -a person can try speaking up and see if the verbal abuser is open to reason and to being reasonable. However, it seems to me that it is unlikely that the abuser will calm down and be less abusive. Only trying will tell.
If the abuser is only incited by the victim speaking up, then keeping quiet is the better option. It will cause far less wear and tear on the victim. Angry exchanges only damage health and psyche and accomplish little other than the self-esteem of standing up for oneself - and that may be a pyrrhic victory.
The best thing is to get counseling to improve the situation. If the situation can't be improved, then one has to make the decision whether or not to stay in the relationship. And if one decides to stay in the relationship, then it might well be better for personal survival to view one's spouse as insane - perhaps temporarily insane - so as to lessen the impact of the verbal abuse. It is understood that it is often difficult to not respond, to remain calm and centered.
KORACH (Torah portion)
When Moshe reprimands Korach for seeking the priesthood, he concludes:
"Therefore, you and your congregation who gather together are against the Almighty; and Aharon, who is he that you complain against him?" (Numbers 16:11).
What did Moshe mean when he said, "and Aharon, who is he"?
Rabbi Shlomo Kluger comments that when someone verbally abuses a very distinguished personage and then disparages a common person, the common person won't take great offense. This is what Moshe was saying to Korach: Since you are really complaining against the Almighty, how can your words hurt Aharon? He will easily remain oblivious to what you say since he sees that you also have complaints against the Almighty.
Our lesson: When we come in contact with a very critical person, we need not take offense at what he says. This is the way he speaks to all people so there is no reason to take it personally. Realize that the problem is his, not yours, and you free yourself from any possible hurt feelings from what he says.