Below are contributions that readers have shared. If you have a story, poem or insight to share, please let me know.

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This poem expresses the fear that angry verbal abuse generates.

Tide Mark

When my name turns
sour in his mouth,

when he comes riding toward
me foaming and churning,

I am swept out,
swept clean.

He is multiplied
through rage.

He is too many.

—Melissa McIntosh Brown


What? One might wonder, could anyone do to someone to generate so much anger that he would rage at his partner. It only takes one thing, she moved, walked, talked, expressed a thought, or simply existed in a way that didn’t match his mind.... So he lost it. Read Controlling People for all the details. Melissa contributed another poem for that book. I am so glad because I see her as a great, great poet.

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TOWARD COMPASSION FOR SURVIVORS OF VERBAL ABUSE

This is a powerful perspective on why some women stay, at least for a
while, with a verbal abuser who will not leave nor do the hard work of change. Of course, there are other reasons; most commonly, it is to protect a child or children from being alone with an angry and unpredictable parent. [Previously published in a past newsletter]

The story that follows adds so much to understanding the fear people have in the presence of irrational behavior— verbal abuse.


A beautiful young woman, not yet thirty called me crying from fear. "Does being so afraid to leave mean that I am really, really abused?" she asked.

She was about to brave the freezing winter winds and eminent snow to get away while her abusive husband was not around. This was her window of opportunity. After talking with her a few minutes, I realized the verbal abuse she endured was truly horrific. To just call it extreme would be downplaying her experience. In those few minutes, I also realized how very smart, articulate and amazing she was. I asked her, "Would you someday, send me a note about what you just told me? I know it will help others to understand the fear the craziness generates. In the middle of that very same night, safely ensconced in a cozy and secret place, she sent me the following email, to help others.

"For those who compare living with a verbal abuser to being a Prisoner of War, I can tell you that it's not even close. Being a Prisoner of War is actually easier. At least, when you are a Prisoner of War, you are taken against your will. You KNOW that you are living with the enemy. You KNOW that they are lying to you. You KNOW that they are feeding you propaganda, and you can mentally fight it. Verbal abusers are far more sinister because they befriend you, win your heart, and gain your trust.

I have never been a P.O.W., but I have been to war. I have fallen asleep to the sound of machine gun fire each night. I have worked in buildings peppered with holes from mortar rounds. I have walked through mine fields. I have been trained to keep my wits during terrorist attacks. But, leaving the man, that I believed was my soul-mate, is BY FAR the scariest thing that I have ever done!—Veteran, US Air Force

Yes, she had been in the Air Force, had slept under fire, and she is
quite brave. I'll always remember that everyone has his or her own time to stay or go. Sharing this message is one way to promote understanding throughout the world.