Friday, July 6, 2007

Verbal Abuse: Withholding

Trigger warning: This entry contains detailed description of verbally abusive behavior.

Verbal abuse, unlike physical abuse, can be overt or covert. It isn't always obvious to the victim/survivor or her loved ones that she is being abused.

14 categories constitute verbal abuse, one of which is withholding.

Withholding occurs when one partner withholds affection, information, thoughts, and feelings from his partner. When one person in a relationship withholds, intimacy cannot be created. Survivors of verbal abuse who have experienced withholding say they do not know what they did "wrong" to be ignored.

Some examples of withholding might include:

-a partner withholding affection from you until you do what he wants you to do.

-refusing to give you information about where he is going, when he is coming back, about financial resources, and other forms of information.

-withholding material resources - in marriage, especially, withholding a promised food budget, bill payments, etc.

-refusing to answer questions, make eye contact, etc.

-withholding affection and comfort when you need it.

-ignoring you.

Over time, withholding damages self-esteem. The mistake many survivors of verbal abuse make, including myself, is that they try to "fix" the problem. They desperately try to figure out how to make the abuser happy so that he will quit withholding.

The truth is, there is absolutely nothing you can do to please your abuser to get him to quit withholding from you. Withholding, like all other abusive behaviors is about power and control.

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