Dealing with verbal abuse: Any suggestions?
I am the primary caregiver for a husband that has been critical and judgmental for a long time. Having cancer seems to be an excuse to be even more verbally abusive. He does not treat anyone else like this and generally does not act out if anyone else is around. Nothing I do is ever good enough and nothing I do counts for anything. If someone else sends a message or some by to visit, they are a major hero. Any suggestions? I cannot say that I find caregiving rewarding like some people do
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Caregivers Support Group.
Welcome to MayoClinicConnect @nrocpop , a place where everyone tries to help each other through our difficult health journeys. We can give information, resources, and say what worked and what didn’t, but we are not doctors so we can’t diagnose or prescribe medication.
I included the link to another discussion that you might want to read through. I assure you, you are not alone!
Do you have a therapist you can talk to? Would you consider getting a therapist? Your husband may not be interested in talking to one, but it may help you immensely.
How long and how frequently does this happen?
I’m sorry, i had a link for you but sometimes it doesn’t like to work for me. ;-(
I have known of situations like that, and it must be very difficult to continue being kind to someone who is so negative to you. I'm really sorry that it is so hard. The one good thing is that you see the picture clearly, and know that he is doing this just because he's inwardly an angry person and it's coming from him to you. Not to others, and it's part of who he is. Meaning that it probably isn't about anything that you are doing wrong, but more that he's found a target for his anger, and knows that you will still be there regardless of how he treats you. You said that it isn't new for him to be verbally abusive, but that it's intensified with his illness. Dealing with illness is hard enough without having deal with this kind of behavior. If you don't have a therapist, perhaps your doctor could refer you to someone. I know it's costly, but his behavior is costly to your health. Perhaps you can find an office that does sliding scale fee so that the cost would be determined by your income. You really need to have someone who supports you just to deal with his illness, let alone the verbal abuse. Most mental health clinic provide services based on a sliding scale payment. Try to locate something, and also the Area Agency on Aging might have a list of counselors who they know who work with situations like yours. I'm sure that this is not unique to your situation. Try to find someone who can just listen, and then help you to find a solution.
I do have a therapist that I like. I was just hoping to talk to others that have been through this. I am belittled, mocked, put down, etc most of the day every day beginning at 5:30am. I am very good at behaving patiently despite it all but it really wears me out
I certainly do not know your circumstances, but I wonder how he would cope if he was told that you would no longer give him care if he continues to be verbally abusive. And then follow thru. I don't know if he would/could physically harm you, but you will be so demoralized if you continue to allow him to be rude and disrespectful to you. You must at all cost protect yourself from further abuse. You are very brave to speak to us about this. I commend you for that. If you are physically safe and he shouts "I need water". Then you could say "You shouted you need water. Ask me politely like when you talk to so and so." and I'll get you water. I see how you treat others, and I will no longer respond to your needs if you continue to speak unkindly to me." Then turn and walk away. WE TRULY DO TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT US. This is likely an old pattern that you established as a couple. Mocking, belittling and put downs are not OK. You did these things to quiet his rage, but it did not work and you do not have to continue to do that. Ask your counselor about that. I'm really proud of you for taking a risk to say these things openly. But it's not cast in stone. Even now it can change. But you can only do these things if you know with certainty that he cannot and will not physically harm you. Please be brave, but not foolish. If you risk physical harm, then you really need to talk with your counselor and figure out an intervention. Patience can only go so far. Even a sick person is capable of change. I can hear it in your words. it's exhausting. Be well and be safe. I care about you. Thankfully you have a therapist who you like. That is key to this discussion.
What an exhausting way to live! My father-in-law was like that with my mother-in-law. One day she drove 200 miles to our home because she was exhausted. She called his brother up the street and said "I need a break. Take care of him." Had we know beforehand what was happening, we would have stepped in and gotten some help, but he never acted like that around us. After a few weeks she went home, and with my husband moved him to a facility that could care for him.
Continuing to bite your tongue and act as if his behavior is acceptable is harmful to your mental and physical health. Is it safe for him if you walk out of the house and take a break if he is particularly nasty? If so, tell him what you are going to do next time he shouts, belittles, or dismisses your efforts. Then do it. You need not go far, even a walk around the block, or sit on the patio and have a soda. Do it every time that behavior is repeated. If you cannot leave the house, at least leave the room. Put in earplugs if you need to drown out his meanness.
If you cannot leave him alone, can you arrange for regular respite from a family member, friend or neighbor? Knowing you will have XX hours of peace and freedom to have coffee, take a walk, or get a haircut will help your sanity.
Perhaps you can find something here that will help you. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/elders-abusing-their-adult-children-or-caregivers-137122.htm
Do you have anyone who can help? You needn't share about his verbal abuse if you do not want to, it's enough to simply ask for help as a full-time caregiver, which is hard enough by itself.
I hope you find some strategies here to help ease your pain and frustration, and move the needle at least a little on his behavior.
Such good advice!
Wow, good for you for speaking up! Even here that is the first big step to making a change. It has been many years ago now, but I did live in a marriage where there was daily abuse. That feeling constantly of trying not set him off and is it coming now or do I have a couple hours of peace. Your writing really brought all of that back for me. I am so sorry you are going through this. You have found a good place to be. I wish I had someone giving the practical advice of just walking away for a while every time. May I ask how long you have been married? Also what is the physical status of your husband? Do you feel safe physically?
Thank you for your kind reply. I need to think before answering
I am really sorry that you, too, we’re in a relationship where you had to be constantly vigilant not to set someone off. It is hard to maintain your sense of self in that situation. It sounds like you got out and I am glad. It is a bad way to live