Why Defining is Abusive

Clearly, when one person defines the other, the person doing the defining (abusing), has closed off from the real person.  When a person is told what they are, think, feel, and so forth, it is not only a lie told to them about themselves, but also it means that the abuser is closed off from the real person.  The abuser cannot really hear, see, and take in information from the real person.  It is as if he sees someone else.  For instance, if the abuser says, “You’re too sensitive” or “You’re not listening,” he is talking to someone whom he defines as “made wrong” or as “not listening.”  So, the real person isn’t seen or heard.  It is as if a wall has arisen between the verbally abusive man and his partner.  This is why, when a man defines his partner, she feels pain.  At some level, she experiences the end of the relationship.

— Patricia Evans, The Verbally Abusive Man, p. 112

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