Countering Is Verbal Abuse
Countering is the dominant response of some verbal abusers. The abuser does not want his partner to have different views from his. If she sees things differently, he may feel he is losing control and dominance of her. He may choose to argue against her thoughts, her perceptions, or her experience of life itself. Countering is one of the most destructive forms of verbal abuse because it prevents all possibility of discussion, it consistently denies the victim’s reality, and it prevents the partner from knowing what her mate thinks about anything.
Example: Jack and Jill saw a movie. After the movie Jill said, “I thought that was a very good movie.” At that moment Jack countered with “It was not a very good movie! It was an OK movie!”
Jill didn’t say the movie WAS very good, she said she THOUGHT is was very good. Jack countered her thoughts.
When a verbal abuser counters his partner he does not respond with phrases like, “It seems to me…” or “I think…” or “I feel…” He simply says that what his partner said isn’t so. A confirmed verbal abuser who chooses countering as a means of domination and Control Over counters his partner’s thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. If she says, “It seems to me that…” or “I feel…” or “I think…” in his presence, she will usually be countered.
Do you feel like you can’t say anything without being put down? Can you express your thoughts, feelings or even your life experience without your mate saying “No, that’s not the way it is.”? If you say the wall is gray, does he say, “No, it is not, it’s black!”?
You no longer have to tolerate this. Set a limit to what you will and will not accept. When you have reached your limit say authoritatively and decisively, “Stop!” while holding your hand up like a traffic cop. Follow the word “Stop!” with the request: “Please look at my lips.” Then repeat your original statement while speaking slowly and distinctly.
Do not explain what you said or what you meant because a counterer will simply counter your explanation. Repeat this process every time you are countered. (Remember, you have the right to your own thoughts and perceptions.) If you stay aware and alert and stop countering on every occasion, you may affect your mate’s behavior to the extent that he stops countering you.
Another response that works in most situations is “So you say,” said very calmly, slowly and emphatically. It is undebatable and leaves the counterer with full responsibility for his own statement while leaving you with the right to your own opinion.
Sometimes countering comes in a form of a challenge. If after expressing a personal perception such as “I thought the movie was very good,” you hear “You can’t prove it,” the way to respond is to simply say, “No.” Then leave the room. Go anywhere you want to and be gone as long as you want to.
Always remember that you have the right to your own view, your own opinion, and your own perspective.
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