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I Am Verbally Abusive

by Jeff
(Ridgeland, MS)

I have been in a relationship with a woman for 3 years. We are very polar, though - things are either truly, truly wonderful, or awful.

I have started raging on the phone in the middle of the night (often filling her answering machine) with hateful, hurtful, and absolutely untrue things, I say, "You're worthless, you're a whore, etc."

If I really thought those things I certainly wouldn't be with her. Most of the time everything is fine, but sometimes the rage just builds and I release it on the last person I would ever want to hurt.

She almost left me yesterday after another day-after session of listening to her machine, but I told her that I can't guarantee it will never happen again. I told her I'm working on it and I need her help to do that. Just support - nothing major. Just being patient, trying to understand, and being there to help me work on being more positive and to stop the craziness.

I had a mentally abusive childhood, and it's just coming out now (I'm 45). I don't want to hurt someone I love the way I was hurt, and I really think we can have a future if I can just stop being so negative.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Jeff, and thanks for telling your story here. I congratulate you for taking full responsibility for your anger and abusive behavior. Not once did you blame anyone else for you problem, and that is an excellent beginning.

I encourage you to take another step in that direction, by telling your partner that you have decided that you need to do this on your own. I say that because it's just not going to work for you to ask for help from the person you're also abusing. That's asking too much of her, and it sets you and her up for future problems.

You can do this, Jeff. You just have to make up your mind to do it. I will recommend some steps you can take, and you may also want to seek professional help in the form of anger management counseling.

You will find a very helpful process outlined on on this FAQ page, which will take you step by step in the direction you want to go.

Part of that process includes writing from your anger in the anger journaling exercise. When you do that, be sure and write all of the verbally abusive things you've heard and said, so that it's right in front of you where you can see it. See this as a kind of "house cleaning" where you're getting the toxic rage into consciousness where you can heal it.

You mentioned "morning after" in your story--so, just in case there are alcohol issues involved in your raging patterns, I suggest you read and follow the recommendations on this page. If you meet the criteria for alcoholism, you need to get sober before you will have any success with your verbal abuse issues.

Do this work for you, Jeff. While it will certainly help your partner, you have to do it for yourself, if it's going to really work.

You're a good man, and that's why you want to break the cycle of abuse from your past. Believe in the goodness in your heart, and take the next best step.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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