December 10, 2011
The Verbally Abusive Man by Patricia Evans
The main first part of this book deals with the portrayal of the verbally abusive man and his dream woman. In this case, the dream woman is someone he's concocted as an extension of himself and “placed” in his partner's self as a way of seeing her as perfect. Once he does this, it is harder for him to see the real person past his dream women, and when something is out of line with what he thinks it should be, he gets angry because she is not mirroring his dream woman. This area also goes into the different types of verbal abuse, whether or not counseling is helpful, and if a change is even possible for the abuser. Next the author moves on to the partner's wanting a change and what would motivate an abuser to change. Finally, the main focus of the book “The Agreement” is brought forth and the author shares how to prepare it and present it, and finally how to write the agreement. After this is done it explains what men seeking change can do (this book focuses on the male being the abuser), whether or not the abuser is following the change, and what to do if he won't agree to cooperate with the Agreement. It follows with choosing to stay or go in the relationship.
I find this book helpful for identifying if someone is willing to change. However, this book is more geared towards people who want to make it work and if you are already out of the relationship it is a lot harder to see how it would apply or help you aside from what the author calls “letting him know why you left.” I believe that if you have already left, the abuser probably doesn't care why as they are too angry at you for leaving. I also fear for the way she says to present as even if there was never any physical harm, verbal anger is hard enough and it may unleash quite a bit when the abuser is presented with the Agreement rather than making him see what he has done by any means. If he is a discounter he will probably write the whole thing off out of hand. Just by reading the whether or not he will change log I felt that if I presented the Agreement, especially since I had already left, that it would make things worse. And while she does cover this a little bit, the majority of the information is directed towards making things work and what to do if it does work. There isn't as much information or validation for those who can't even attempt to present the agreement or for those who it didn't work for. I recognize that the main premise of this book is the Agreement, but usually those people looking at these types of books are usually doing everything in their power, or are trying to heal themselves and will consume every resource cover to cover. It could make them feel like they aren't doing enough or didn't try hard enough while they were in the relationship.
It has some good and bad points like most books do. Unfortunately every relationship has different aspects and while there are commonalities, there isn't a guideline for any specific person when you're writing for many people. I do think this is a good resource to see if someone can change, but if you recognize that they can't or if it hurts too much to keep reading about those people it did work for don't feel like you need to keep reading.
It should be noted that there are some helpful appendices at the end that help identify abusive phrases and words, resources, and other information.
The Verbally Abusive Man