Verbal Abuse

You may have watched the TV show, Man V. Food, on the Travel Channel. Adam Richman was the host of the show in which he was challenged to eat enormous portions of food at various restaurants across the country. As you might expect, he was not a thin man. He was set to host a new show on the Travel Channel but it was cancelled after an angry outburst on social media.

He recently lost 70 lbs. and posted a “before and after” photo of himself on Instagram. He used the term “thinspiration” on his post and then received criticism for his misuse of the term. Apparently it is associated with people suffering eating disorders. Richman responded to the criticism with verbal abuse. He was especially hateful and cruel to one critic saying “Grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you.”

This is an example of emotional and verbal abuse. Despite being the most common form of abuse, verbal abuse is generally not taken as seriously as other types because there is no apparent visible harm. However, verbal abuse creates emotional pain and mental anguish in its target. In Richman’s case, he purposefully and maliciously used social media to humiliate his critics with the use of name calling, belittling and blaming even to the point of encouraging one person to kill themselves.

There is a saying “house devil, street angel” in which people may misbehave badly at home but appear angelic in public. Many abusers are able to maintain a public face of a person with a sweet disposition and pleasant personality, yet are anything but that in private. It seems that Richman gave us a look at his non-public temperament.

The consequence for his verbal tirade was the cancellation of his upcoming show. He apologized, saying “I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight. Instead of responding to hurtful comments with compassion, I lashed out in anger. I’m not asking for sympathy, but rather understanding and forgiveness. I can say with certainty that I’m taking a deep look at myself and I’m incredibly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”

Richman would like us to believe that his verbal abuse was simply a mistake rather than a pattern of behavior. He would also like us to believe that he has learned from the experience and presumably, it won’t happen again. This may be the case, but is not likely. Abuse is learned behavior and can be unlearned. However, most abusers don’t learn, or learn quickly. They need intensive counseling to change their beliefs and attitudes.

 

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