In this episode, we are joined by best-selling author Patricia Evans. She has written five books about verbal and emotional abuse, the most popular being: The Verbally Abusive Relationship. Join us for helpful information and insights, from the author herself, as we candidly discuss this problem that is becoming more widespread than ever.
If you or someone you know might be suffering from a verbally abusive relationship, this is a must-listen! Please share with your friends and reach out if you need help learning some personal tools and insights to better deal with your own relationship.
Find out more about Patricia Evans at verbalabuse.com.
Do you have questions or concerns about your child or your relationship? Let me be your mom coach, if even for just 30 minutes. I would love to talk to you! Sign up for a 30-minute FREE coaching call with The Mommy Whisperer. Go to The-MommyWhisperer.com
Welcome to The Mommy Whisper podcast. I’m Heather Anderson and I am a mother, wife, educator, and Life Coach. I am here to help support and strengthen you on your journey through motherhood… the most important job in the world!
Hi moms! Thank you for joining me today.
I am so excited about this interview today! The author of the book that has changed my life, as well as many other lives called, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” is here with us today. I have been wanting to talk about this book and this subject for so long.
One of my passions in helping women is to help spread the awareness of this type of relationship—both verbally and emotionally abusive relationships, which really go hand in hand. I thought there would be no better person to help me introduce these thoughts and ideas to you than the author herself, Patricia Evans.
The Verbally Abusive Relationship book is the one I’m most familiar with of all of her books--I’ve read it many times, given it to many people, and funny story, even had someone order it after an Uber drive (where in my single-mom years, I was the Uber driver picking up a very distraught young woman to take her to the airport to fly home to her parents after being kicked out by her boyfriend). This young woman had ordered the book from her amazon app by the time she got to the airport.
The author, Patricia Evans, feels like her sole purpose in life was to write this book and get this information out there. After this, which was her first book, she wrote four more books, that delve deeper on the subject called: Controlling People, Victory over abuse, The Verbally Abusive man, Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out.
I really just can’t say enough about how important this information is for those of you who have a gut feeling that something more is going on in your relationship than just the normal difficulties of marriage and creating a life with a completely different human than yourself.
If you or someone you know is in a relationship that causes you to wonder if what is being said or done to you is normal, or if it feels like you’re being knocked off balance by your partners words, or if you feel like you’re constantly having to pick your jaw up off the floor from the shock of things that are being said to you, then please listen to this episode for an introduction and then go and read this book.
I would also like to invite you to come talk to me about it. I can help you. I will not tell you whether you should stay or go, but I will help you sort through what is going on and give you many, many tools and insights to be able to figure out how you would like to deal with your situation.
It was such a pleasure learning from this knowledgeable and experienced author. So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Patricia Evans.
Heather: Thank you so much, Patricia, for being here with us today and taking the time to talk with us and teach us about verbally abusive relationships. I am a huge fan of your work. I know you feel strongly about getting your message out to the world. You’ve written five books dealing with the subject. So tell me what inspired you to become such an expert in this area?
Patricia: What a really great question. When I witnessed it happening to my brother (from my father to my brother; my twin brother) over and over and over and over, hundreds of thousands of times, probably. Almost every day it was, “You’re doing it all wrong; what’s the matter with you? You’re never gonna amount to anything; you’re hopeless,” and that kind of thing. So my goal in life was to, probably why I was born, was to enlighten people who this is happening to them. It was my goal.
So when I finished my four-year degree, I was looking around at the University to see if they had any courses that would help me to help people who get put down. And so as I’m looking around, I see Dr. Carl Putz. And Dr. Putz was a professor I had in philosophy, previously while in my undergraduate years, and he said, “What’s happening?” and I told him I was looking for a class of some nature that I could take to learn how to help people who get put down. And I have been looking at lots of universities, and he said, “There are no classes like that, why don’t you write a book that will show people how to recognize it? That would be something!”
And that felt like my soul spoke to me, and the next day I started the book. The first book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship.
Heather: Okay, that’s your first book. That’s the one I’m the most familiar with that I have read a million times, and have sent to people and have had people order. I am a huge fan of that book. So that was how that was inspired; that’s amazing.
Patricia: Yes it is. It’s like the whole purpose of my being was actually, I think, the reason I had this brother (he’s since passed on) but I think he was my twin brother because the world needed somebody to be able to see this and explain to people, “This is nuts.”
Verbal abuse: it’s really, like crazy. People put you down when they pretend to be more than they are like, “I am God; I know what you’re thinking. I am God; I know what you’re feeling, I know how you feel.” They’re like pretending to be God. It’s really insane.
Heather: And it’s quite covert too; people don’t know that they’re necessarily in a relationship like this. Sometimes we just think, “Oh, well marriage is hard, so this is just the hard part that I always hear about.”
Patricia: It’s very important to know because it comes from something that people don’t really understand. What it comes from is something that, when you and I have talked earlier, you said you were interested in understanding why would a person try to control me? Why would this person want to control me? I’m a nice person. And what this is is the person who is being abusive is reacting to your showing up as a separate individual. The person who’s being abusive has unconsciously, at a deep unconscious level, projected a part of his psyche into her (if it’s a man to a woman. It can be the other way, but it’s very rare.) So he’s projected a part of his psyche into his partner. She is his warm, receptive, nurturing, emotionally intelligent, intuitive self, because he never developed that part of himself. He was too busy being tough and not complaining; not showing emotions; and all those things that boys are often taught. (i.e., “quit crying; don’t be a baby; you’re being a wimp; and all that.)
So he could shut off a whole large part of his psyche, and then when he sees this beautiful girl when he’s 18 years old and he projects, if they fall in love, he projects that whole lost self into her. She’s now the rest of him; she is now an extension of him; she is now the part of him that couldn’t develop freely in his own psyche; she’s his extension. So she could say (this is very important for people to know), she could say something like, “Do you want to go out Saturday night?” and he could feel attacked because she’s an extension of him; she wouldn’t know if he wanted to go out; so who is this asking this question? So he might respond in a very irritable, angry way, “Well what do you think?” or “Why are you asking me?” or “Figure it out,” or something. He just feels so attacked. He’s attacked by her individuality. When she shows up as a separate person, then he feels attacked because she’s an extension of him.
Now here is something that got published in my book, the second edition, I believe, of my first book, somewhere you’ll find on Amazon, there’s a second edition. Now this is something I think people would love to understand and know about, and that is: that a man called and said, “Oh I just read your book, Controlling People,” (I touch on it in Controlling People) “now I know why I threw my wife to the ground.” I said, “What?” (Now this isn’t just verbal abuse this is physical abuse.) I said, “What happened?” He said, “Well I got home from work early, and I love to cook, I was cooking up a storm; had all the burners going. Then my wife came in from work, she said ‘Hi’ and I said ‘Hi.’ Then she looked down at the mail and after a while, I just threw the ground, I got into such a rage. But now I know why. The rest of me in her was going to walk over and say, ‘Can I help you with the cooking?’” And of course that didn’t happen. He got angrier and angrier. She just stood there reading all the different mail that had come in, seeing who it was from, and whatever she was doing. She wasn’t looking up; she wasn’t offering to help him with the cooking; she didn’t match his mind.
So that is one of the things that happens in a verbally abusive relationship-- one person doesn’t match the mind of the other person. And the person who is abusive has lost part of his psyche, and he’s projected it into his partner--his warm, receptive, nurturing, emotionally intelligent, intuitive self never really got to develop because he could get hit really hard at 10 months of age; slapped really hard across the face for crying (because I have seen and heard of a father doing that). This little kid could grow up with no feeling function, whatsoever. And when he meets a pretty girl--a girl he likes--he transfers that unconsciously, the whole feeling function is transferred into her and therefore she should know what he wants without him saying. Like, “Stop reading the mail and come over here.” She should know. If he has to respond, then it’s like he’s acknowledging she’s a separate person. And when he acknowledges that she’s a separate person and not an extension of him, then part of him goes missing, he feels like he’s committed suicide. So there’s no way he’s going to address this in a normal way. Don’t you see? It’s sort of a complex thing.
Once you understand it--she is not the rest of him; she doesn’t know what he wants and thinks and feels--then his behavior becomes more and more clear. It’s just a reaction to her being a separate person.
Another way this shows up in a relationship is she might say, “Oh honey, you’re so tall could you replace that light bulb for me in that hall light?” He’ll say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” He wants to shut her mouth up. And so she’ll say a week later, “Oh I think you forgot, could you replace that? Here’s a light bulb.” “I’m busy right now.” So it’ll never happen, because if he did what she asks, he would be acknowledging that she is indeed a separate person; therefore, half of him would go missing--the part of him that is projected into her, that’s made her an extension of him.
So you see this is a complex thing.
Heather: Yes. Well it is so deeply complex and deeply subconscious, like he doesn’t even know that he’s doing this and she definitely doesn’t know that he’s doing this.
Patricia: Yeah, most of the time he doesn’t know and that’s why responses are important. So what I recommend, in the way of a response, is to just say a few different kinds of responses. One could just be, “What did you say? What’d you just say? What did you say?”
Heather: Questioning them.
Patricia: That gives him the chance to reconnect in his mind. Maybe he just said, “You just wanna start a fight.” She’s say, “What? What did you say?” And he stops and he thinks and he says, “Well I just said you want to start a fight.” Maybe he will finally say what he said and he’ll repeat it. And then she can have another level of response which is, “Oh honey, guess what? You aren’t me; you’re not a woman. So you don’t know what I want. You’re not God, either, so you don’t know what I want. If you’d like to know what I want, you may ask me nicely with your happy voice.” Now it’s important to add that happy voice because that’s how we teach children to ask for things, “Ask in you’re happy voice, don’t be screaming.”
Heather: Now from what I know of these abusive people, that might set them off even worse. Does that…
Patricia: Now, then we’ll look at another level of things which is, depending on what state you live in. If you live in a one-party state, you can be recording him without him knowing it, as long as you’re in the conversation. If you live in a two party state, like California, then both people have to know it’s being recorded. That’s why you can call all different kinds of agencies in California and they all say, “This call will be recorded.”
Heather: And if you do choose to record, what does that do for you and for your abuser.
Patricia: Oh, it does wonders. First of all, you might be able to have a group of people over and then just say, “Hey honey come here I just wanna show you something.” And then you show him the recording. Maybe two or three people hear and you say, “I want you to know what you said.” And so they hear it, and he’s very embarrassed, and he maybe is angry, but you’re outing him.
Outing him is the path to getting change. So she might show him what he said, and then just say, “I’m asking you to please promise me that you won’t talk to me like that again.” And he’ll say, “Yeah yeah, okay okay, just shut it off, shut it off.” So then she shuts it off.
But anyway, so they may have some of these skirmishes, I would call them. But one way to wake him up, and I recommend this in certain cases, is that she does an intervention. “Oh sweetheart, I’m asking you to make every effort not to tell me what I am and think and feel and need and want, ‘cause you’re not me and you’re not God and you don’t know these things. For example, I’ve heard you say…”
Then she lists everything he has said: you think this; you want that; you’re trying to start a fight; you wanna argue; you hate me; you’re not tired. So she will make a list of everything, and she’ll just read it to him, in front of people. He has made her a part of his psyche, so he doesn’t hear anything she says. He blocks it out; blocks it out; blocks it out. But his ears are trained, his brain is trained, to hear what other people are hearing her say about him. In other words, if she says I’ve heard you say, “You just wanna argue; you wanna be right; you want to start a fight; and honey, you don’t know what I want.” If she reads that, and there are people in the room, his ears are hearing; his brain is working to hear: What is Joe hearing my wife say? What is Mary hearing my wife say? His brain is geared to hear it so he will hear the things she says he’s just said. And she’s asking him not to do it.
Now there are men who have a whole list of these things and have contacted me, she’ll give him a card with my name on it for help. She won’t say, “Please call,” because if he did what she wants he’d be committing suicide. He’d be acting like she was a real separate person. But if just my name and number are there, he can call me and if he calls me, I explain everything to him because he doesn’t know why he’s doing this; he doesn’t know why he says things that are irrational; he doesn’t even know most of the time when he says it. That’s why the first response is always, “What’d you say? What did you say?” Because then he recalls what he just said. He may actually recall that it’s not real. But in any case I have had men go through tremendous change.
And I called one to be sure ’cause he was really tough. So I called his wife to see how he was (because there was somebody going on in the men’s group that wanted to know if there will be somebody there to mentor him.) And she said, “Oh he’s wonderful now. He’s completely changed.” So I gave his name to a new person coming on.
The men’s group, Men Ending Verbal Abuse and Control--that’s the men’s group--they have a whole program to help the men be able to see what they’re doing and how they are separate people and their wife is not an extension of them. And just the other day a woman said, “My husband says I feel like you’re part of me. You’re like an extension of me.” And, of course, that’s what’s crazy, but he didn’t know it at all, and she didn’t know or really realize what it was. And in a way it could sound like she’s really strong or she’s really good at mechanics so she’s good at repairing things, or whatever. So she may not even realize that this could be the source of a big problem.
But these relationships start out like everything seems perfect because he hasn’t projected part of his psyche into her yet, because everything seems wonderful. It doesn’t start at the beginning because he doesn’t transfer into her until he feels secure. He may feel secure because she says, “I love you” every day; he may feel secure because they’re expecting a baby; he may feel secure because they’re planning a wedding; he may feel secure for whatever reason. But there is usually, in fact always, a reason he feels secure. And when he feels secure, interestingly that’s when the transfer takes place. He projects his lost self; she is now the rest of him; she is now his feeling function; because he actually loses his feeling function, almost universally, by the way he’s treated in early childhood. In other words, a father will say, “Quit crying; don’t be a baby; you’re being a wimp; what’s the matter with you?”
There was one case I was talking to a woman on the phone and she said that he had just slapped their 12-month-old baby, sitting in a high chair, hard across the face for crying. So once he suppressed his feeling function, he could no longer cry. He doesn’t cry or anything. He’s lost his whole feeling function. And when he meets the right girl and he feels secure he may transfer that part of his psyche into her--his feeling, his warmth, his empathy, his receptivity, his nurturing qualities. All that whole gestalt could be transferred into his partner. Then she is, in fact, psychologically speaking, the rest of him and then he feels okay about telling her what she thinks and how she feels and so forth. And it doesn’t seem strange to him so it’s like a mystery that we’re solving together.
Heather: Okay, so you have answered so many of the questions I had, but now it’s creating different questions and other questions. So, I first wanted to clarify, since I am a podcast for moms I’ll just leave it with women even though you said that some men find themselves in these relationships, but it’s…
Patricia: Yeah, well some women with are moms; some women will become moms; some women will not become moms. So I try to make it inclusive and just say women.
So I always ask the women to go to the appendix of my 4th book and to look at The Verbally Abusive Man, Can He Change? And go to the appendix where there are a couple hundred samples of abusive comments and pick out what you’ve heard or anything similar, and make a list: you are; you think; you want; you know; you don’t know; you should; you need; you’re trying to. And nobody can tell you this. Nobody can tell you what you are, what you think, how you feel, what you need, what you know, what you want. Nobody can do that. I mean, nobody on the planet can do that.
Heather: So that is how you define a verbally abusive relationship, if somebody wants to know if they’re in this, that’s kind of your set answer is: Well, is he…
Patricia: Does he define your inner world? Does he tell you what you are? Stupid; crazy; idiot. Does he tell you what you want? You wanna argue; you wanna be right; you want to win. What you have to see is this is not sane; this is not sane behavior.
Heather: Yes, he needs to ask you what you want; what you think.
Patricia: Sure. Exactly.
Heather: Now, what if a woman doesn’t feel comfortable confronting him and doing these steps you said to kind of out…
Patricia: She can choose. She can choose to spend her life hearing her awareness, her consciousness, assaulted and erased over and over and over and over again. Or she can choose to confront him.
Heather: And is there a special type of therapist, if she didn’t want to take it on herself, that they could go see that could help point these things out?
Patricia: The worst thing as a woman can do is go to a couple’s counselor together, because he will be very, very clever at defining her in a way that the couple’s counselor would say, “Well it takes two. Something you said provoked him. Look at yourself.” And she’s already feeling like she’s just being destroyed in this relationship. Then to imply that it’s partly her fault is enough…
A woman called me when I finished introducing the first book on the Oprah show in 1992. She was a therapist in Southern California. She wanted me to know what was going on and about the projection, and that if they go to a couple’s counselor it will get worse.
So I didn’t say anything for the first few years of consulting with people, I didn’t tell them it would get worse. I just said find a counselor. I’d tell the men how to find an EMDR therapist to work through the trauma of their childhood, but I did notice, over the years, that if they went to a couple’s counselor, 100% of those who went to a couple’s counselor, their relationship got worse. And then I realized it gets worse because he’s very, very good at complaining about her, and she doesn’t know how to even bring up things that are real because she’s so afraid of him. So it gets worse. So I do not recommend couple’s counseling when abuse is the issue, and that’s how this therapist put it to me. “Tell people you do not recommend couple’s counseling when abuse is the issue.” And she was a 100% right.
Heather: Okay, so a woman’s first step is to first make sure that she can define that abuse is happening to her.
Patricia: Yeah she has to notice if she’s being told, “Oh you think you know everything” or “You wanna argue” or “You’re trying to start a fight.” These are insane statements. She needs to notice that. She has to check if it’s a one party state so she could record him without him knowing it as long as she’s in the conversation. And if she’s in a two party state she can say, “Hey, I just want you to know from this moment forward, starting right now, I’m recording our conversations, so I can remember what you want and how you feel.”
One sent me an email, yesterday, it was the first time I’ve heard from her, and he’s just been in her phone checking out everything that her therapist had said, everything she made notes about, she didn’t even password her phone. Now you can take any smart phone you can put a password on it and the password will protect your privacy. You have a right to privacy in any relationship.
Heather: Yes and your books, if she’s still not sure if she’s in an abusive relationship, your books help tremendously--all five books.
Patricia: Yes, there’s 5 books, and each one emphasizes a different area. The Verbally Abusive Relationship is the first one, and that pretty much gives most women, or many women, a chance to realize if they’re in it. And then The Survivor’s book does more, and shows unique experiences and so forth. And then Controlling People kind of shows how he makes her like an extension of his mind. And then the fourth book, Can He Change?, gives more specifics. So they’re all helpful; they all give something. But everything can be found at verbalabuse.com.
Heather: Okay, and they can also reach out to you…
Patricia: And they can talk to me. The number there, that’s specifically my number, and they can dial it and call me. A lot of times they’ll say, “Oh you’re so busy.” So I’ll go whole day without a phone call and I’ll think, “This is kind of lonely. Maybe if I just say I’ll get lonely if you don’t call me…”
Heather: Oh that’s so great that you do that for people. Do you ever have men call because they find themselves in a verbally abusive relationship with their wife?
Patricia: Yeah I’ve had three in the last five years; three versus 1,000. I’d say about 1 to 2% would be a woman is abusive; the other 98% the man is abusive. Because women aren’t usually slapped across the face, yelled at, screamed at, beaten every day with a strap for crying, for showing feelings. But lots of men are; pretty close to being beaten a lot. And they lose their feeling function and this whole problem takes place because of it.
Heather: Okay, yeah, so some trauma in their life…
Patricia: There’s definite trauma in which they don’t even necessarily recall it because then they buried their feeling function far away.
Heather: Okay, so, for us to raise our boys to not grow up to be this way, of course, we know to make sure we’re not doing the huge slapping them and beating them, but what else would you suggest because that’s where I can see…
Patricia: If you see their father slaps them across the face when they cry and tells them, “Don’t be a baby; you’re being a wimp,” get it on camera and get permission to keep him away from this child because he’s destroying the child.
Heather: Is there a lot of hope for women who are in a relationship like this? Is there a lot of hope for change from him?
Patricia: If you’re willing to do, and it’s very difficult, the intervention, if he does the program--he changes.
Heather: It’s not a normal relationship if you’re in something like this and something needs to be done, otherwise you’re just going to lose yourself and be completely…
Patricia: Yeah, and if you’re not willing to do an intervention and not willing to stand up for it or anything, yeah eventually this is an erasure of consciousness. Telling you what you are, think, feel, need, want, know, don’t know, should do; only you know those things. So it’s an erasure of mind and consciousness. It’s the worst abuse there is on planet earth.
Heather: Yes and your books help explain so much. Your books help explain the different types of abuse and emotional abuse and you really help women feel like they’re finally understood and, “Oh my goodness, this is what I’ve been enduring and this is actually a problem. So I definitely suggest getting the book for you, for these women, for their friend if they feel like their friend is in this. That book just helps so much, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, your first book, helps so much.
Patricia: Yeah, and they can take off from there. I appreciate you sharing that with so many people because it is so important that we have a society and a world that’s balanced, that people are healthy, that this isn’t going on.
Heather: Yes, because that is my whole platform: I want to help moms, to help families, to help society. It starts with the moms; it starts with the moms understanding what they can do to help themselves.
Patricia: Yes and understanding is important. And anybody who wants some information or wants to schedule a consult, but you don’t have to, you can call with a quick question, no problem. I want to help, like you do. We want to see this become a healthy world.
Heather: Yes, yes. So in closing if you could tell the moms of the world one thing what would it be?
Patricia: That no one on this planet can tell you what you are; what you think; how you feel; what you want; what you know; what you don’t know; what your motives are; or anything like that. And the other part of that is, if you are planning to get help, don’t give your partner, your husband, your boyfriend, whoever this is, don’t give him a heads up. Don’t say, “Well I’m gonna talk to Dr. so-and-so and I’m going to whatever and I’m going to do this and that,” because when you give him a heads up then he has a master plan for putting you in a position of looking crazy. His denial will be intense; his plan to get out of it will be intense; so you never tell him what you’re doing. He doesn’t have a right to know what you’re doing; he doesn’t have a right to be on your cell phone; or anything else.
Heather: Well thank you, and thank you for all that you’ve taught us today. I know this will resonate with women out there. I even learned quite a bit that I hadn’t remembered or didn’t know, and I’m going to send my listeners to your website: verbalabuse.com. I’ll put all the links in my show notes. And I know you’re working on another book, so I would love to have you back when that’s done and talk about that book.
Patricia: Thank you so much, Heather, you’re just wonderful. You’re a positive force in the world. Thank you so much.
Heather: This is an important work that you’re doing and I really appreciate everything you’ve said today. So thank you.
Patricia: Thank you
Heather: I would like to give a special thank you to Patricia Evans for her time today, and also all that she does for helping women get through this challenge. I would like to encourage each of you, if you know someone who you think could use this episode, please share it with them.
And remember, in the words of Jeffrey R. Holland: “Everyone has the right to be loved, to feel peaceful, and find safety at home.” I’ll talk to you next week!
Now there are two ways to work with me, and I honestly can’t wait to meet you. Please make an appointment for a free 30-minute coaching call with me, you’ll be amazed at how much we can figure out for you and your family in just 30 minutes. And now I also have a free workshop to show you how to help your high school student earn college credits without changing schools or adding hours to their day. I’m so excited to share this with you. Go to the links in the show notes or go to my website the-mommywhisperer.com. Let’s talk soon.