Sanctuary for the Abused

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Verbal Abuse

Calling her dumb, an idiot, stupid is verbal abuse. Putting her down, criticizing her, defeating her in argument for the sake of defeating, not for the sake of mutual enlightenment – this is verbal abuse. Threatening and intimidating by use of words is verbal abuse. If he is angry almost daily, this is verbal abuse. If he is constantly trying to convince her that something is wrong with her, this is verbal abuse. If he further tries to convince her that something is psychologically amiss with her and that she needs therapy, this is moving to extreme verbal abuse.

Verbal abuse may be indirect or covert, and it may be direct – shouting slanderous slogans – the same ones she has heard over and over. Verbal abuse is wanting power over the woman, and completely misusing the power. Verbal abuse constantly undermines the woman, it constantly denies her reality, her very existence.

In many cases, she is not supposed to exist. She is to be an extension of her husband/partner and nothing more. She is to parrot his words, his ideas, and to predict his needs and desires at every step. This is her function. And despite whether she succeeds or not, abuse will rain on her head. There is no escaping it, and there is no escaping its escalation over time.

There are clear symptoms of verbal abuse. Generally, verbal abuse will be secretive. Only those inside the home will know about it. Second, it increases with the passing of time, and the wife adapts to this increase. Third, the abuser repeatedly denies and discounts the wife’s perception of his treatment of her.

Verbal abuse always hurts. It attacks the abilities of the wife and erodes her self-confidence. Verbal abuse fills her with doubts regarding herself. Verbal abuse may comprise of angry shouting or it may be subtle brainwashing, or both. Abusers with developed intellect will use every form of manipulative cunning to brainwash their wives, to convince them their value is nil. Verbal abuse is insidious because many times it is indirect, roundabout and filled with devious cunning which the spouse cannot even begin to comprehend but which leaves her feeling horrible.

While the husband may create many so-called issues of dispute in the marriage, in fact the real issue in the marriage, the real problem, is his never-ending and escalating abuse. It is very hard for the victim to recognize this simple fact. Anger is another category of verbal abuse. If a man uses anger, there is nothing the wife can do or say to mitigate the anger, because it is nothing she has done. His anger is irrational, unpredictable and explosive. It is his trait of character, it is a part of his personality makeup. Generally, it cannot be changed.

In her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, P. Evans lists the types of verbal abuse:

1. withholding: rejecting the wife.

2. countering: saying the opposite, arguing without real cause.

3. discounting: discrediting what she says. (‘You’re too sensitive.’ ‘You can’t take a joke.’ ‘You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.’)

4. joking: using jokes to abuse. In the joke, she is the victim, she is the object of ridicule.

5. blocking: not allowing the wife to communicate. (‘You know what I meant. You’re talking out of turn.’ ‘Quit your bitching.’ ‘It’s too complicated for you to understand.’ ‘Just drop it!’. ‘You heard me. I shouldn’t have to repeat myself.’)

6. converting dialogue into fights: When the wife tries to accommodate him, he blows up in anger. He frequently takes her words as a personal attack.

7. Judging: constantly condemning over issues big and small.

8. Trivializing: making fun of what she says and what she does, her accomplishments.

9. Undermining: continually eroding the wife’s enthusiasm about subjects and interests not related to the husband, thereby sabotaging her social life.

10. Threatening: threats of loss or punishment

11. Name calling: from violent attacks to patronizing contemptuous nick names to sarcastic affection, name calling is used to keep the wife in her place

12. Forgetting: declaring that abusive events or where the husband was exposed never happened.

13. Ordering: treating the wife as a servant. This dehumanizes the wife to a machine with no needs. Some men continuously talk in the imperative even when there is no conflict.

14. Denial: refusing to accept responsibility for abuse by accusing the wife of lying or being crazy.

15. Angry abuse: in the forms of yelling, snapping back, raging, shouting, glaring, grimacing (clenched teeth), argumentativeness, tantrums, explosions, long episodes of continuous vicious sarcasms. This develops into an addiction so that the husband will need a daily fix of raging in order to overcome his feelings of dependency, inadequacy and powerlessness by shouting out his anger.

Still another form of verbal abuse is interrogation. The interrogation begins with throwing the wife into a guilty confusion by a cold inquisitional air. The husband plays both the roles of the good cop and the bad cop, changing from sorrowful, reproving affection to cold scientist examining a lab rat to a vicious abuser that the wife cannot even recognize. Interrogation is an addictive power game that gives thrills of power to the power-hungry husband who yearns for greater power in society. The reason it is so thrilling is that the husband can take a petty incident such as shopping and convert it into a criminal act. The husband’s own anxiety and possessive insecurity merely adds to the emotional high of tormenting the wife. Interrogation not only involves making the wife feel she is sinful (materialistic) and selfish (not serving the needs of the husband), but also establishes the husband as the omniscient lord who will judge the wife in future whenever she may ‘fall’ from the path of virtue.

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shared by Barbara at 12:55 AM



I am so very glad I came across your site, you are giving me a clearer insight into something I just can't seem to even understand.I have done a few posting in the past while on how wrong this all is.
All abuse is so wrong so terrible and seems to have become like a chronic problem in our world today. The problem is so bad that when I visit a wonderful site such as this I am almost embarrassed to admit to being male.
I think it is important for all to realize there is a big difference between a man and an over grown, insecure male that is passing himself of as a man. He is able to pass himself off as a man simply because of age or size. It takes more than just age and size to make you a man. Sadly, many JERKS get away with the deception and are nothing but an embarrassment to real men. It is the action of these that give men a bad rap, sad and unfair but true.
I would go as far as to say no real true man has ever abused a woman. That is done by the over grown jerks, that sadly just because of age and size see themselves as men and as does most of the world.
Real men see these JERKS as mere jokes wanna be men. Please never confuse men with the wanna be's.

11:26 AM  

We women know that there are good men around, but the real test is to spend some time with him and see how he reacts to unpleasant events. Is he holding his courteous mood? or slipping into a barrage of insults because of the frustration?
If you have been raised as to control yourself and not inflict your fears on the female at your side, then everything is OK...Otherwise, we begin a slippery slope where small incidents build up into gross temper tantrums and abusive behavior.
It has a strong impact on us, and it takes a long time to recover the sense of security and trust violated by the abuse. How can a person heal? there are so many

4:59 PM  

can my marriage be saved if my husband is a verbal abuser?

9:54 PM  

I have been married for 20 years. For 20 years I have been both verbally and emotionally abused. He has just started therapy, after finally admitting he had a problem. The struggle I am having is that I am not sure I want to stay with him. I don't know if I can forgive him for all the hurt he has caused. Can anyone give me some insight or thoughts on how one makes the decision as whether to stay and see if he gets better or get out of the relationship now?

12:31 AM  

I certainly agree with your description of verbal abuse. However, I must point out that abuse can and does go both ways. I am not ashamed to say that I am a man who was in an abusive marriage for several. It is very demeaning and demoralizing emotionally to have someone verbally abusing you on a daily basis.

It doesn't matter if that person is your husband, your partner, or your wife.


8:00 AM  

I am being verbally abused by my 17 year old grandson who lives with me. He thinks I should just hand out money and do nothing to earn it. He doesn't work and wont go to college. The abuse is escallating and I risk losing my home because of him shouting ands slamming.I don't know what to do.

2:33 PM  

Call the cops the next time he has an outburst. explain to them what he is doing. Have them take him to jail if necessary. If you dont fix this issue now then it will become worse . PLEASE

8:24 PM  

Everyday of my life I have been abused like this. First by my father, then with my husband. I didn't even know it was abuse nor did I think it was anyones fault but my own.

Another form of this abuse that is mentioned in other articles on this website is where the abuser accuses YOU of abuse. If you at any time raise your voice or defend yourself this is considered abuse and they use it against you to others. Mri's checking for psychopathy before starting ANY major relationship should be a choice we all have access to.

5:18 PM  

Couldn't believe what I read... Sounded as if I was back having a conversation with my ex. He thrives on down playing me. Which at first for 3 years I believed it was just the way he was... An asshole.. until that turned to me... Now reading through this blog... I believe these men AND women who act this way may take years to even realize their problem... Just recently I was told.I was.a miserable.bitch and.should kill myself... Yes it still hurts.but I am finally finding my way to not let this bother me... But still struggle everyday. The fact I had a beautiful baby boy with this monster makes me realize for the next 18 years I must find my way around this....

11:28 AM  


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Leigh Turgeon
Twitter: @leighslead
The Blue Veil Blog
FB Page The Blue Veil
FB Page Leigh Turgeon

10:44 PM  

My boyfriend of 3 years verbally abuses me. It's taken me all this time to realise it.

I have endometriosis so sex is painful. He won't accept this as an excuse not to perform and says "well I'm not in pain", then calls me an arsehole.

His most recent abuse was to call me horrible. It was just out of the blue. He'd been nice to me all day. He said I should have 'horrible' tattooed to my forehead so othher men can see I'm horrible and won't have to put up with what he's put up with.

A couple of hours later, he cuddled me and asked me for a kiss.

His behaviour makes me feel like I'm losing my marbles.

6:04 AM  

Thanks for the post. I've worked with abused women for many years, and the verbal abuse is always why a woman stays with a physical abuser.

1:38 PM  

Ginny sorry I do not understand your post.....I have been a victim of verbal abuse and at times physical, thankfully have moved on although it has not been easy. Why do you do you say that a woman stays with a physical abuser due to verbal abuse?

5:35 PM  

I am married almost 30 years. We have been in counseling 2 years. My husband moved out last month. Partly because he saw me getting stronger and could not take it. A friend recommended the Patricia Evans books. It was a bolt out of the blue when I realized there was a name for what had been happening these 30 years. I now see that he has verbally abused me and that is why I have been so confused about our relationship and why I felt like I could never do anything right. I tried to defend my self but things would get worse so I would roll over with "you're right- I'm sorry" etc. I now worry for our sons- 22,19, and 12. I want to continue therapy so I can grow stronger and help them. I know they will continue the behavior they have been modeled and I am heartbroken and angry with myself for letting this go on for so long. I don't think ny husband will change since he has left and has no reason to. I still feel like I have to make a excuse for him and that his family will not eccept my version of events. Why in all this time has no one- no family /friends told him to stop or told me to not accept his behavior toward me? Only one friend tried and I told him not to talk to my husband- . I am sorry for that.

1:51 PM  

Now it seems that my husband has decided to quit the counselor. So I see no hope for our relationship. I know now that I must get stronger for my sons and work to move ahead. I am afraid that a divorce will be ugly. I have no recourse no "get help or else" since he moved out. Maybe I am lucky. I am telling people the truth about our relationship.

6:36 PM  

Hi, I've been with my boyfriend for just over 6 years. There were big red flags that I overlooked in the beginning. I was almost 30 and never had a serious relationship. I wanted to be in a relationship so bad that I put up with it. Now I think I want out because it hasn't gotten better. I question myself constantly... Is he really the a-hole or am I? I'm the one who's been thinking about leaving for years, leading him on. I'm not perfect. I cheated once, and I always feel like I'm asking him for help with things. But he goes into a fit of rage about twice a month over things that are small. The last one was bc I invited someone to breakfast with us without telling him first. He called me a f-up and selfish and wondered how I could be so stupid. It's enough to hurt, but then he apologizes and we have a few days of being ok. It's never enough for me to say "ok, this is it, I'm done." Plus we live together and there's no way we could break up, yet stay amicable long enough for me to find an apartment. So I'm thinking the only way it'll happen is if I move out in secret. Then I'll question whether it's really abuse... For instance he's never called me "stupid," but he says I'm "acting stupid." Which is his out for when I say "don't call me stupid". All these mind games are driving me crazy... Thanks for reading, any advice is helpful.

1:49 PM  

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