more likely to come to understand that they ARE verbally abusive, that it IS harmful, etc?
A recording of a typical abusive interaction between us could serve as a textbook example of verbal abuse: he calls me terrible names (b*tch, lazy f*ck, stupid, etc.), asks condescending rhetorical questions ("Did
you want to keep your iPhone?" when seeing I've left it in a hotel room we're checking out of), rolls his eyes when I say something he disagrees with, frequently shows contempt, is critical of nearly everything I do ... I could go on and on and on. His defense of his behavior is also just like he's reading from a verbal abuse handbook: "You're just too sensitive!", "If you wouldn't do X, then I wouldn't talk like that to you.", and after making a belittling "joke" at my expense, "You need to learn to laugh at yourself."
Despite all this, he is sincerely XXXXX XXXXX I, or anyone, would classify his behavior as "verbal abuse." He seems to genuinely believe that he just "says things that are kind of mean" when he's angry (justifiably, of course, because everything I do is wrong). He thinks calling it "verbal abuse" is akin to me seeing him shaking hands with the librarian and saying that qualifies as him having a torrid affair with her.
We've been married 15 years. The first few years there was no verbal abuse. It began and got progressively worse over the next 5 years. I saw a counselor on my own, read a million self-help books, and changed MY behavior and reactions to him, and he agreed to go to counseling with me. After just 3 sessions, his verbal abuse honestly and sincerely XXXXX XXXXX for about 5 years. This year has been one extremely stressful event after another: major move, death of his mother, job problems, money problems, new baby, me transitioning from stay-at-home-mother to part time work-at-home mom (less time for him & housework), and it has started again and escalated right back to where it was at the worst point years ago.
Fortunately, he is going to counseling with me and does recognize that he needs to improve.
A few nights ago, we got into a big fight and I retreated to the bathroom to avoid continuing the fight. He pounded on the door and yelled, and when I finally came out, he pushed the door open, grabbed me by the throat and squeezed (but not hard enough to make me choke or leave marks), and hit me with an open palm on the side of my head (not hard enough to hurt me).
I spoke with our counselor the next day, who agreed with my assessment that he was not likely a serious physical threat to me over the next few days, and we have an appointment together in 2 days.
I am fully committed to leaving him if he hits me again, regardless of the "severity," and will also leave if the verbal abuse continues.
My question is really, what are the factors that "convince" a person like him that he IS verbally abusive, and that in fact he was physically abusive as well? I recognize 100% that it would be extremely counter-productive for ME to be the one to try to convince him, but I'm assuming that our counselor will be working with him on that.
I really have come a long way from where I was when I allowed the verbal abuse to escalate over 5 years. I recognize now that it's about him, not me, that even when what he says is based on a truth, but it isn't the truth (e.g. the kitchen IS messy, but it's not "full of 'piles of garbage' every night" when he comes home, etc. I am not going to accept it any longer.
I'm just frustrated, at this point, less about the verbal abuse itself (because I understand it's sort of a "syndrome" that he's experiencing -- for all of the unpredictability in the timing, when a known trigger event occurs, his verbally abusive reaction is actually very predictable), but with his lack of acknowledging that it IS verbal abuse, that it IS harmful, and that "sort of" choking me and hitting me "once, and not very hard" IS physical abuse.
I guess what I'm looking for is validation. Not that it will stop (I will leave if it does not), but that it's possible that he WILL learn to recognize that it is verbal abuse, that it's harmful, that I'm not just "blowing things out of proportion," that it's not my fault for doing X that he is verbally abusive.
I'd like any thoughts on how often men like my husband DO reach those realizations through counseling, and what kind of things help them to reach the realizations? (Again, understanding that it won't be ME who is doing any of the "convincing".)