“You will never be able to survive without me.”
“You are going to bankrupt this family.”
“Would you like to go sit in the car? Continue talking like this and you can go sit in the car.”
“What are you, stupid?”
“Now that you have a job, you will need to pay the bills. I can’t support you if you are working. Here’s a list of everything you owe the family.”
“you’re so ugly, nobody will ever want to sleep with you. You better stay with me; no one else will want you.”
“You’re more of a man then I am”
“Take off all your clothes now. I want sex. RIGHT NOW WOMAN!”
“Who’d you sleep with now?”
“You are so fat!” or “BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!” when she was bending over while pregnant
“Everyone’s gonna think I’m having dinner with a street walker.”
“You can do NOTHING”
“I met a woman today. I had to remind myself that I am married. She was amazing. She was nothing like you.”
“You can’t tell me how to be a father, you will NEVER be a father and that makes your opinion unimportant.”
“This is my wife, she says things she doesn’t mean. Hahahaha.”
These are real words. Spoken by real abusers, to real victims.
Degradation is the breaking down and tearing apart of a person. It is the slow but consistent wearing down of some ones self esteem. It the act of lowering someone to a less respected state in the eyes of themselves and in the eyes of others. In ecological terms it refers to weathering and erosion. I think that is pretty applicable to abusive degradation as well. Degradation wears the victim down. She becomes tired of trying and gives into the constant negative messages she hears until she comes to believe it for herself.
I remember cleaning up our sick child and all through that process, he was telling me what an awful mother I was and swearing at me. He called me horrible names. I was crying while trying my best to clean up the mess. I was devastated, tired and convinced that I was parenting all wrong. My child being sick and how I chose to clean up the mess was wrong, wrong, wrong and I could never do anything the right way.
I remember another time when we were shopping and he didn’t like my input so told me to go sit in the car till he was done. I said “WHAT!? you are going to send me to the car like a child.” and he replied “Yes, you b***h, what do think I said? You can’t understand anything? You talk too much and annoy me. Now, go to the car!” Head down, I slowly went to the car.
Can you imagine hearing horrid things, quietly whispered in your ear, over and over again for months on end? Can you think what it is like to be told constantly that you don’t measure up and no matter how hard you try, you never will. This is exactly what happens in the thousands of homes across our nation that deals with abuse.
Degrading someone is a powerful form of verbal and emotional abuse. Word Arrows that are thrown directly at your personhood, intended to cut you down and undermine your very soul. Degrading someone can take many forms. Name calling, comparing, treating them like a child, humiliating her and undermining her ideas and interests are just some of the ways an abuser degrades the victim. The thing to remember about degradation is that its used to shut you up, cut you down and keep you from improving yourself. Most importantly, degrading you keeps you from recognizing any chance at leaving. It trauma bonds the victim to the abuser. He gives and takes away at his will and whim. She becomes dependent on him for approval; approval that she rarely gets.
Once a victim can recognize the many ways that her abuser degrades her, she can start to fight back. Fighting back begins internally. Instead of accepting his horrible words as truth, she can start speaking her own truth to herself. She gains the ability to have positive conversations about herself within her own thoughts. After time, this will make her stronger. She may even become confident enough to share with someone else what she is living through. That moment, when she begins to refuse to accept the whole responsibility for his abuse, is her first taste of freedom.
If she cannot speak positivity into herself then she can turn to the word of God. He calls her:
Friend John 15:15
Masterpiece Ephesians 2:10
Treasure Deuteronomy 7:6
and my personal favorite: BELOVED Song of Songs 2:16
The most Holy God of the Universe calls you HIS! No matter what your abuser says to you or about you, God truth deletes those horrible names. Gods thoughts about you are good and His plans for you are more than you could ever hope or imagine! (Eph 3:20) He offers His strength to help you find freedom from abuse. (2 Cor. 12:9) God loves you, He wants you to be safe. He desires His best for you and through His strength, you can be strong enough to take those steps to leave.