Usually judgments and criticism are lies about one’s personal qualities and performance. They are blows to the self esteem.
The verbal abuser judges his partner and then expresses his judgment in a critical way. If she objects, he may tell her that he is just pointing something out to be helpful, but he is really expressing his lack of acceptance of her.
The abuser attempts to defend himself against his feelings of inferiority and powerlessness by criticizing and judging. By declaring his superiority and “rightness” he reinforces both his ideal image and his entire defense system.
Most “you” and “you are” statements are judgmental, critical and abusive.
How dumb (you are).
Statements that begin with “The trouble with you is…” or “Your problem is…” are judgmental, critical and abusive.
Critical statements made about you to others are abusive.
She’s always nagging.
She can’t do anything right.
She drives like an old lady.
Critical “stories” about your mistakes or actual lies about you which embarrass you in front of others are abusive.
She hides the dirty dishes in the oven.
Statements which criticize specific words out of context are abusive, for example,
Jack and Jill are getting ready for a trip to the lake.
Jill: “I can’t wait to drive up there.”
Jack: “You’re not driving, I’m driving!”
In this example, Jill feels frustrated and finds herself saying, “That’s not what I meant.” Jack already knows what she meant, but making her WRONG gives him a sense of control over her.
Criticism disguised as help or advice is abusive,
You should have…
Next time you should…
This way would have been better.
To respond to judging and criticizing, it may be helpful to ask yourself “Who is he to judge me?” Except for a court of law or God, no one has the right to judge and criticize your personal qualities and performance.
Speak as strongly, firmly, emphatically, and authoritatively as you can and let the energy of your anger support you:
Say, “Stop judging me!”, “Quit criticizing me!”, or “That’s unacceptable!”
Then disengage, leave the area if possible. Do not continue with a discussion. Further discussion dilutes the impact on your response.