8 – “You S.O.B”
This is overt name-calling. There’s no other label to pin on it but verbal abuse. And there is never any excuse for it no matter how frustrated you are and no matter how badly abused you have been by the person you’re giving it back to.
9 – “Nobody would want you”
This is an example of a put-down that has the effect of attempting to raise the abuser’s self-esteem. The abuser believes he or she is a nothing so to compensate, he tries to lower your self-esteem. There are many websites discussing verbal abuse and they all have this one tiny point wrong. They claim the abuser wants to control you when he does this.
This is incorrect. As you can see from the statement, if he says “nobody” would want you, then “nobody” includes him. If he really didn’t want you, he has no need to control you! This backwards logic even evades the speaker himself. He assures himself that he doesn’t “want” this person, gets a divorce goes to court, and then seems glued to the legal system. Why? Because he’s still connected. He does want her! He thinks he hates her but he cannot let go.
The real underlying reason for his statement and behavior is his clumsy and hurtful attempt to raise his own self-esteem out of the gutter. If it’s in the gutter and he can convince himself that “nobody would want” his spouse, then hers must be even lower down than his. This gives him a hair’s breadth of relief. All he’s looking for is that pinch of relief from the pain of looking at who he is. The person he’s really trying—unsuccessfully—to control is himself.
By the way, this analysis doesn’t take away from the plain fact that this statement is both verbal and emotional abuse. It’s verbal because it’s a put-down and its emotional because it distorts reality, or attempts to do so.
10 – overt and subtle threats of any kind
This would include threats to leave, threats to harm, threats to take valuables, and so forth. All of these constitute the highest form of verbal and emotional abuse.
There you have it; a scale from 1 to 10 of increasing abusiveness. This includes just about every variation. Test it out under other websites and you will see that all the examples there fall into one of the templates on this scale.
Print out the handy summary and put it on the fridge.
DrDeb’s scale of abusiveness:
1 – “Do you think I’m stupid?” [mild implication against the other’s intentions]
2 — “I want a reservation, please, for two people, tomorrow at 8.” [demanding]
3 – “You always put your foot in your mouth. Why do you embarrass me like that?” [negative “you” statement; use of “always”]
4 – “What you accused me of is dumb.” [put-down language, refers to behavior]
5 – “You don’t know what you’re talking about” [somewhat harsh put down of other’s being]
6 – “You don’t know what you’re talking about” (regarding person’s field) [dismissive at a core level]
7 – “You only said that because you didn’t want to inconvenience yourself” [mind-reading, negative attributions to the other]
8 – “You S.O.B” [very harsh put-down language]
9 – “Nobody would want you” [very harsh put down of the other’s being]
10 – overt and subtle threats of any kind [approaching physical violence—beware!]