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Don’t Put Me Down!

Woman holding phone away from her face and trying to block the speaker with her handWhen I first Wrote Back From the Looking Glass – 13 Steps  to a Peaceful Home (now in its 11th edition), it was much shorter and called “Don’t Put Me Down!”

I think the issue of domestic abuse often focuses too heavily on violence, downplaying the real long term damage words can cause.

Violence is certainly an issue – but I have seen that violence usually sets in once the conflict has spiralled downward and one or both partners begin to feel desperate and helpless.

I heard a saying once that violence is an admission of defeat; in most cases, I would agree. I know there are still people in the world who believe they can use violence to control family members while maintaining a position of respect in their home, but in Australia and most countries in the western world, this is no longer the case. In our society, most people understand if you are hitting someone to enforce your will, it is more likely to breed hostility and contempt than respect.

The sad truth is that if someone is hitting you, they probably know they are in the wrong and won’t respect you for putting up with it.

Still, violence in our homes continues; mostly when a person finds themselves beyond caring how their behaviour will be judged.  When in the heat of the moment, they begin to feel vulnerable and helpless to ever get their needs met. In these situations, people will sometimes lash out in despair and do terrible things they normally would never consider. This is all the more likely if that person feels ‘all is lost’ and they have no other means of expressing the depth of their feelings.

I am not condoning family violence, and that is really not the subject I want to write about here today, I just wanted to make it clear that the issues facing families in conflict are often not as black and white as people make out. Abandonment can be a trigger for violence and so telling people to ‘just leave’ is not always the safe advice that it might sound.

On the contrary, verbal abuse usually sets in fairly early in a dysfunctional family, years before any kind of physical abuse raises its ugly head. The nursery rhyme ending, “but words can never hurt me”, is far from the truth. Words do hurt and especially when they regularly come out of the mouth of a person who is meant to love you more than anyone.

I have a number of articles on dealing with verbal aggression in my eCourse that deals with this subject (for only $8.95). This series can also be accessed by subscribers to Kim and Steve Cooper’s Groups.


Ending the put-downs and verbal abuse in my marriage was one of the toughest challenges I have ever faced. If this is a problem for you, I have a ton of resources I want to share with you to help, but I do encourage you to use these alongside the steps in our books; Back from the Looking Glass (13 Steps to a Peaceful Home), The Love Safety Net Workbook (exercises in relationship skills to strengthen the 4 pillars of a happy and healthy home) and 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence.

Then please come back and do my eCourse for my latest advice on dealing with verbal abuse.

To end here I want to offer a testimonial that came in this morning from a church worker who uses our material ‘in the field’ . . .

“I am extremely thankful that you have your story to tell of breakthrough. What would I have done without it??!!! Yikes. I lead quite a few women and to just say “Stay in your marriage” is not at all realistic without your tools.

Your materials have been so very helpful when really there is nothing very accessible out there. This is such a common problem that people face – I have AT LEAST 4 friends who work and work at their marriage and face wall after wall and no way forward. 2 of these friends have had serious issues like you have faced. Your book has been an amazing resource to turn to.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the moon and back for the work you do – I know it must be exhausting and draining but I am so very thankful you have chosen to do it rather than dust off your lives and just look like the ‘normal’ couple in the crowd.

BLESS you both!!”

Are you ready to get started?  Our “Earning Respect” Membership Subscription gives you access to Kim’s series on dealing with verbal abuse. You may ask questions in the comments section of each members only article.

Check Out Our Earning Respect eCourse

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Agree that verbal abuse is hurting, probably hurting more than physical abuse. My partner kept telling me and telling me and telling me I was wrong and that “it’s just me” who is wrong, that “it’s just who I am” that offends him or something. And even though I am getting out of that, protecting myself against that, telling myself that that is not true, telling myself that I am okay, it has been put very deep in my mind and it still affects my life in a very negative way. And yes, him hitting me I can forget relatively easity, him destroying things I can also relatively easily deal with, but the words still stay in my mind.

  2. I am separated from my husband since Jan. 2014 because our relationship turned physical. I am now in DVD Transitional housing. I’ve always been concerned about what happens to the abuser. I couldn’t understand myself getting help through yhe DVD courses or meetings I’ve attended. I’ve never just wanted to leave him behind and not get the help he needs also. So……..I am very glad to hear about this information. Although we are separated I still communicate with him. His self esteem seems to be zero. He is a very emotional man but shows it only through anger. I
    I am 100 percent disabled and am wondering if you could somehow extend your services to meat no cost. For I am on a limited income of 730 dollars per month. I would highly appreciate any and all help you could provide. For I still love my husband and want to keep our 9 years of marriage together. I hope to hear from you in another email . Thank you so very much.
    I am very excited that there is help. Please help us if you can it would be greatly appreciated. Also through this I am planning on being a domestic violence advocate.Thanks again .
    Sincerely, Kathleen Tietjen.

    1. Hi Kathleen – Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. All the blog comments were going into my spam folder and I thought no one loved me anymore (LOL). Steve will get back to you today and will arrange to help you.

  3. I think you’re right violence is never acceptable but if you dont respect each other you have a culture where violence can flourish

    1. Hi Meg – Yes I wish more people could see it is the final outcome of a much more insidious problem 🙂

  4. Your emails have helped me many many times to understand the narcistic personality disorder. I have been married to my husband for almost 47 years. He is two
    different people. He is nice after sex,
    buys gifts, tells me how lucky I am to have him for a husband etc. After several days,
    he becomes irritable, impatient, demanding,
    unreasonable, verbal abuse may start,
    Sex is like a drug to him… He is arrogant
    know it all. He discredits my ideas, and makes me feel like dirt or less. His tone of
    voice is more than I can tolerate at times.
    Confronting him only makes him reverse everything I say into blame on me.
    He admitted being into pornography at the
    tim e in 2004 when he spent 6 months in
    a hospital with pancreatitis. Anyway,
    I do read all the emails….Thank you
    so much for all that information you give out
    It is helpful. It is also helpful to read of other women going through the same circumstances.
    Music and God have helped me through

    1. Hi Kathy, I really would encourage you to sign up as a member and gain access to my articles on handling verbal abuse. It is only $8.95 a month and the resources will be invaluable for you to turn to.

  5. Hi Kim, I am in love with a woman who I used to live with but she was very verbally abusive if she didn’t get her way. She didn’t work or contribute much to the finances, and was always stressed and depressed or facing some sort of hassle in life. Even though she didn’t contribute and I am on a low income, she wanted a fairly luxury lifestyle and wanted the spending to be her way and wanted me to eat into my hard earned savings and even get into debt. Any problem with the relationship was always entirely my fault and I was never good enough. We had sex once but after that she didn’t want sex until we were married. She never wanted to talk about marriage or how to progress the relationship. On one occasion when I wanted to bring up the topic of intimacy, she promptly got on the phone and rang her mother and complained that I was perverted and talking about sex with her! It was always never going to happen (neither the sex nor the marriage). When she got angry with me, she would yell at the top of her voice so the whole neighbourhood could hear everything. I was embarrassed about this but she never was. She loved to say that society always believes the word of the woman over the man and nobody would believe my story. We don’t live together any more and are like friends (surprisingly when we live separately, she turns into a different person and can be quite good company), but I still have feelings for her and I don’t get any other suitable dates so I have given up on meeting anyone else attractive. I keep holding out hope that she would change and this has gone on for years now but she never does. I’m just about to throw in the towel, even if I have to be lonely perpetually.

    1. Hi Gerard, Only you can make that decision. Taming this woman may be very hard work. If you learn to stand up for yourself in the process – even if she doesn’t change it will help you grow stronger and more attractive. Working on your codependence needs to be primarily for you!!!

  6. I have ordered the books and my husband and I are reading everything together. I can not wait to start the workbook and use techniques like self soothers and a team to help me get through the horrible verbal abuse. Who is the narcissist and who is the co-dependent in our relationship, I am not sure. At first reading your information, I thought that I was the narcissist and I needed to help to save my relationship with my husband and my family. Lately, I see my husband as the narcissist and I the co-dependent. Last night during a horrible verbal dispute, my husband accused me of creeping around him and not letting him rest. I immediately thought of “creepy Connie” from my daughter’s favorite show. I told him that he had to stop belittling me or there would be consequences and in his arrogant stance said, “oh yea, what are you going to do?” It is as though I am living with a Jeckle and Hyde and I am so not trusting of him, especially these past several years. He affirms me that he has never cheated on me and would never seek out another woman for he said that I have ‘jaded’ him. I have checked his emails, phone and embarrassingly spied through his office door here at home. I have been extremely fearful lately of what might set him off and so I approach carefully, but that does not help. His reactions are violently yelling to the point of spitting on me and sometimes I just wonder if I should leave. In fact, he says ” If you don’t like it, leave!”
    This statement came only one day after he promised that he would not say the “D” word. When I asked about his promise after saying I could leave, he said it wasn’t the “D” word. The truth of this relationship is that we have been fighting for 35 years. It has not gotten better, sometimes it is worse. Our nine year old daughter think that she has to be our counselor, our three older children have given the youngest their phone numbers to call if EVER she needed to talk about anything. This child is now going through uncertainties and I am sure it is a direct result of listening and seeing her parents argue and fight all the time. I am desperate at trying to fix this relationship, I always want God to be the Lordship of our lives and feel that this is not going so well at this point. I thank you and Steve for having this website and hope that in the near future there will be results. I honestly admit that I think it would be easier to shut down and be like an invisible person but I have a greater desire to have love, peace and harmony in this home. It is not easy to UN-condition a person to who you behaved a certain way and think that in the past year and a half you are trying to be different. They already have it in their head, “Oh, I know what she is going to do, what she is going to say”, and so my husband is so REACTIVE!
    I pray that your program works, I see the narcissism and co-dependent dance going on and we have not killed each other yet. It is shamming that we are Christians and yet after all these years do not know how to take the log out of our own eyes and let go of the condemnation towards each other. I hope somehow that you might be able to tell me after this lengthy comment who is the narcissist and who is the co-dependent, but honestly, after reading all your material I don’t even know. I truly thought that I was the narcissist, but not anymore.

    1. Hi Lisa – I wonder if you have subscribed on the page here to get our three questions? That might help you.

      Your husband may be reactive but that is where you need to learn new scripts that are going to de escalate those type of situations.

      It does take time for trust to build – but from where I sit now I think that is what love is all about.

  7. My husband and I have been married for 48 years. We have six children that has been the glue that has held this marriage together. Like you with six children I have had no where to go and could not support us alone. My husband is the narcissist He makes me feel so stupid and ugly and worthless. I am not allowed to make any decisions and he will not listen to anything I have to say. The last car I bought for myself, he did not speak to me for three months. Then went to the kids and said I was so cold and unfeeling. We are being foreclosed on in Sept. and after 36 years on our farm, we will have to move. He says he is not going anywhere. He is staying right there. We have been dealing with this for years and I just want to get away from the fight. He will never quit fighting . I am afraid he will get violent and try to kill someone. I just want to be free from all of it. I have a place to go but I know if I leave I can never come back and we are both getting older and need each other. He will never even act like I am gone. I am so messed up trying to decide what will hurt me the least. I have the support of my children whatever I decide.

  8. I have been reading your information on codependency for a year now and along with some psychotherapy, mindfulness and CBT to improve my assertiveness, I feel that I am learning to establish better boundaries for myself and to keep myself much calmer when my husband is angling for an argument and being unpleasant. Nevertheless my marriage is one of no trust, damage control and limitation and I was wondering whether intimacy is a realistic goal for the future?!

  9. My husband of 23 years recently had a “brain event” of having no short term memory for about 8 hours! Following this, he swears more than in the past, which I read may portend Alzheimer’s. Even though he is a narcissist, has OCD, has been addicted to .5 -1.0 mg of Klonapin for the past couple of decades, and now has had this “global amnesia,” I have hope!
    Am I nuts? I am trying to do two things, mainly, which is to “self soothe,” as Kim Cooper advises, and to “collect” my husband. It seems to be working whenever I remember to do it. By “collecting” I mean I am showing my husband that I care about him and that he is mine, and I am his. It has been difficult to remember to do this, in the past, because of the “narcissistic feedings” and my consequent anger. But I can see that the more I practice, the easier it is to feel in control of myself, understanding of his “brain issues” as well as my own, and finally able to “turn things around”!

    1. Good stuff Mary-Lee and welcome 🙂 Is his amnesia used to excuse himself from behaviour he might be embarrassed about? You might say, You may have forgotten but that doesn’t mean everyone else has!

      1. Hi, Kim—

        Interesting you should bring that up—He doesn’t quite do that, but he has several times used this amnesia event as an excuse to be more out of control verbally than he ever was before. Whether this is just an excuse for weirder behavior and language, or not, there is no way for me to really know.

        I think it is safe to say that as people age some of their behaviors become more entrenched and more difficult to deal with. I am finding that at this stage of both of our “development,” or lack of same, it is really important to be able to remain calm and be able to “self soothe.”

        Sometimes I sort of say a mantra to myself of “Collect,,,,self-soothe….Collect….self soothe, etc.” This has been really helpful at times. Whatever gets me out of the silly habit of reacting to my husband’s often transparent pleas for “negative attention”
        is a good thing. ☺

        Why DO I nearly always fall for it? Have you heard of Ross Rosenberg, Kim? He has a lot, online, about Narcissism.

        You are the QUEEN of positivity, Kim! There is really still no one as positive as yourself and Steve, that I have found. This thing CAN be licked and dealt with, and the Narcissists of the world do NOT need to be ejected into outer space, as if they were not hurting, injured human beings, already!

        1. Thanks Mary-Lee. No I have not heard of Ross R. I don’t get enough time to read these days!!! It is wonderful that you have found it in your heart to rise above 🙂

          1. Happy Thanksgiving, Kim…You and Steve are Americans for the day! gobble, gobble! ☺

            Remember the days when you could find no one who didn’t tell you to simply give up and leave?

            That’s how grateful I am sure hundreds are to you and Steve for “lighting a way”. It is truly a spiritual thing you are into, as I am sure you both

        2. Ross Rosenburg is a US psychologist who has done a lot of speaking on the “dance” between narcissism and co-dependency. Recent book on the human magnet syndrome. I assisted in a conference with him late 2013 and may have forwarded you some of his remarks. Good descriptions of the interdependency of these dynamics.

  10. Three weeks ago I was ready to leave my husband, I i didn’t know how and that’s what kept me from doing so. I did’t have a job since I am a stay at home mother caring for my two little children. I was tired of the put downs in private and in public and emotional abuse at home, was tired of crying and most importantly I was tired of the bad example my children were receiving. I searched many websites about narcissism since I knew my husband had some if not all the characteristics of one. All sites told me to leave to run as fast as I could and not look back so I was getting stronger in the feeling of doing it, I bumped into Kim’s website and it totally tought me the contrary of the rest of the websites, after a couple of days I purchased her book “back from the looking glass” after I finished reading this book I was mentally ready to start my journey on saving my marriage. I implemented in my daily life and home a couple of her suggestions on her book and Wow to my surprise this changes brought hope to my marriage problems because I saw a change in my husband (sure it is small but we are just starting) so I’ m looking forward to work on my marriage with the help of firstly God and then Kim’s books and all resources she has for us! Thank you for such an amazing work of love you and your husband do to help many families in crisis like mine. blessings to you and your loved ones from the bottom of my heart.

    1. Hi Rebeca, I hope you continue to get stronger. Only time will tell if your strength and boundaries will help him overcome his temper. If you continue this path, however, you will be in a much better position to choose what direction your life takes.

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