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You Can't Say That to Me: Stopping the Pain of Verbal Abuse--An 8- Step Program

You Can't Say That to Me: Stopping the Pain of Verbal Abuse--An 8- Step Program

Suzette Haden Elgin

ISBN: 978-0-471-00399-1

Mar 1995

224 pages

Select type: Paperback

In Stock



You can't say that to me! "Can't you do anything right?" "I can't believe you would feed that junk to your child!" "What is this? And don't tell me it's a casserole, I already know that." "If you really cared about me, you wouldn't behave this way." Sound familiar? Each of us occasionally feels the sting of very unpleasant language from those who are closest to us--spouses, employers, friends, relatives. But frequent and repeated use of unanswerable questions, scalding accusations, sarcasm, insinuations, and even icy silence is more than simply unpleasant; it is abusive, destructive, and frequently leads to escalating arguments and physical violence. Suzette Haden Elgin, creator of the "Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense," has developed a unique and revolutionary way to break the cycle of verbal violence and eliminate it from your life--without ruining your marriage, risking your job, or alienating friends or loved ones. Dr. Elgin shows you how to neutralize verbal attacks and discourage future abuse with:
* An 8-step program that helps you recognize the patterns of verbal abuse
* Specific language techniques that enable you to avoid escalating arguments and break the cycle of abuse using skills you already possess
* Questionnaires and diaries that help you analyze abusive situations, evaluate your responses to them, and track your progress
In this book Dr. Elgin proves that verbal abuse is not caused by human nature, but by language. She helps you discover that you are an expert in your own language, already highly qualified to solve this problem for yourself, quickly and forever.

How to use this Book xv

Introduction 1

Why do we put up with it? 3

Your Personal Verbal Abuse Survey 6

Step 1: Recognizing the source of the problem 9

Scenario One 9

What’s going on here? 9

What goes wrong – and why? 13

What to do about it: Using Miller’s Law 17

Dialogues for analysis 19

Another look at Scenario One 21

Step 1 Backup 25

Sight Bites 29

Step 2: Recognizing the source of the solution 31

Scenario Two 31

What’s going on here? 32

The Basics – Defining our terms 34

What to do about it: Awareness 43

Another look at Scenario Two 49

Step 2 Backup 52

Sight Bites 54

Step 3: Recognizing that you already have everything you need to put an end to verbal violence in your life 56

Scenario Three 56

What’s going on here? 58

The grammar of verbal violence 67

What to do about it: choosing your communication strategy 68

Another look at Scenario Three 71

Step 3 Backup 75

Sight Bites 80

Step 4: Recognizing that you are an expert in your language 81

Scenario Four 81

What’s going on here? 83

You are an expert in your language 85

What to do about it: giving up the myths about verbal abuse 89

Another look at Scenario Four 91

Step 4 Backup 95

Sight Bites 102

Step 5: Understanding the two goals of verbal self-defense 104

Scenario Five 104

What’s going on here? 106

Why it matters: The link between verbal and physical violence 108

What to do about it: Recognizing abusive language 110

Another look at Scenario Five 116

Step 5 Backup 119

Sight Bites 122

Step 6: Deciding never to participate in verbal violence – and following through 125

Scenario Six 125

What’s going on here? 127

The problem of following through 129

What to do about it: Dealing with English verbal attack patterns 137

Another look at Scenario Six 140

Step 6 Backup 143

Sight Bites 146

Step 7 Maintaining your own healthy language environment 147

Scenario Seven 147

What’s going on here? 148

Language behavior is contagious 149

What to do about it: Using the Satir modes 151

Another look at Scenario Seven 160

Step 7 Backup 162

Sight Bites 167

Step 8: Taking responsibility for your own language and its consequences 168

Scenario Eight 168

What’s going on here? 169

What to do about it: Taking responsibility 171

One more technique: Following the language traffic rules 173

Another look at Scenario eight 177

Step 8 Backup 182

Sight Bite 183

Conclusion 185

The unifying metaphor in verbal abuse 186

What to do about it 186

Sight Bites 192

Bibliography 193

Index to backup material 203

Index 205