Verbal Abuse is Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Photo by Linda Jo Martin

Are you tired of being raged at, criticized, and insulted by your partner?

Verbal abuse hurts. Yes, physical abuse leaves cuts, bruises, scars, and serious injuries, but verbal abuse alone can be very damaging.

By the time I was able to leave the man who abused me verbally, I was telling him, “You killed our relationship with your mouth.” Yes, one out of control and very verbal person can destroy everything you’ve tried to build together.

I don’t feel bad about our relationship ending. What feels bad to me, causing me much sorrow, was that he didn’t care enough about me to want me to be happy… and that he was so carelessly abusive in his speech to me.

How can a relationship get so bad?

Verbally abusive relationships don’t start out that way.

When I met Bob he was quiet and kind. Once he got used to being around me, he progressed to intellectual conversations. Later he became a bit heavy on the praise, building me up with his appreciations. He promised to help me with all my projects and desires.

After we committed to the relationship and he moved in with me, things changed. He focused his criticism on my children, and eventually on my entire family. This was a bid to increase my estrangement from family members, and to force me to depend more on him, at least, emotionally. I was the financial provider. At that time my son was 17.

When my son left home at 18, Bob turned his criticisms more directly on me, and as the years went by, his disapproval of everything about me became more pronounced. He became enraged at almost anything I said. He would lecture me for more than an hour. Anything I said would add fuel to his fire. There was no way to calm him except to listen and bear with the agony.

This behavior is typical of people with some types of narcissistic personality disorder.

I would have thrown him out on the streets however he was broke, and that made him very difficult to get rid of. When I tried, he threatened me. I decided I had to wait until his social security was granted at age 62, so I lived with him seven years until I could get him to agree to leave.

He slept in his van in my backyard more than six of those seven years. Narcissistic people don’t like physical closeness or intimacy, except when they are needed to entrap an unsuspecting victim.

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Verbally abusive people have many strategies for driving you crazy! They seem to thrive on being in attack mode.

Here are a few examples:

Fault Finding. If you notice that your beloved tends to be critical of others, that’s a red flag. When choosing a partner, be alert to any fault finding tendencies even if they aren’t directed at you. If you let that person into your life, eventually you will be the target.

Countering. This means that if I suggest something or express my belief in something, I’ll be “countered” by a contrary opinion. Some people have noticed that if they agree with a verbally abusive person, that person will change opinions mid-conversation! It is all about being contrary. The abuser wants to have a “superior opinion” and will usually disagree with their partner, no matter what the topic or opinion may be.

Discounting. This means that the abuser considers the spouse to be worthless, and expresses that in many ways. It is hard to keep your self-esteem when getting these kinds of messages.

Honestly, verbal abuse didn’t make me feel bad about myself … it made me feel bad about having a verbally abusive partner.

I have got to admit, my self-esteem was at an all-time high because I was happy with my career success. The verbal abuse didn’t exactly make me feel like a quivering mass of submissive jello! However I do understand that many people have had much longer relationships with abusive partners and that the experience has eroded their self-esteem to an extreme measure.

When I was attacked by the verbal abuser I felt angry, impatient, frustrated, confused, and disgusted. These are definitely not pleasant feelings and not things I want to feel toward a person I live with.

End verbal abuse by removing it from your life. You can do it… you can live a peaceful life again.

Let’s end verbal abuse now – by changing who we are and making our lives into a happiness project.

We can learn to refuse verbal abuse by changing ourselves, standing up for ourselves, and changing the way we respond to our abusers.

We can learn more about what causes the abuse and whether we should continue to be the target of someone who is obviously damaged.

Whether you stay or whether you go – only you can decide. But either way you have the right to a calmer existence and a world full of happiness.

Perhaps you are in that relationship for a reason – to learn to deal with that type of problem, and to rise above it. If so, eventually it will be okay to leave, because you weren’t put on earth to continuously suffer at the hand or mouth of someone who refuses to stay in control of himself.

My happy ending: I’m free now.

Early in 2013 I sat in my office, calmly writing, when Bob opened the door and began to rant about his most recent criticism of me. This irritated me to an unprecedented degree. I kept it under control. I had already read books on verbal abuse, on breaking up, and on deciding whether or not a relationship was worth saving. I knew that if I fought back verbally, the confrontation would escalate.

As soon as he left the room, I prayed, with desperation, to be released from the horrible relationship. I could no longer tolerate his behavior or the extreme irritation it brought me. I wanted peace in my life, and begged God for it.

Not long thereafter Bob got his Social Security and for the first time in seven years started to contribute to the rent of the house we lived in. Then he said he wanted to move to a nearby town without me. I said that was a good idea and that I intended to move out of state.

Then he decided he should move with me. While I was not thrilled to hear that, I didn’t object. I merely started to give away most of my possessions and pack the rest.

On the day we were packing the U-Haul to leave, he walked into my room and threatened to kill me by burning down the house with me in it, because he wanted complete silence so he could take a nap.

That was the end of the road for me. I didn’t want to know what would happen next if I allowed him to go with me. I told Bob I never wanted to see him again. He fell apart and went into a prolonged rant from which he could not calm down. I phoned a friend’s husband who came over and talked him into leaving. The man helped Bob remove all his possessions from the house and the U-Haul.

I moved to Idaho alone. Two weeks later I went to a church to thank God for helping me get out of that situation, and I became a Christian. I’ve never been happier and I now have the peaceful life I craved.

Patricia Evans – she writes about verbal abuse.

The Verbally Abusive Relationship, by Patricia Evans

The Verbally Abusive Relationship, by Patricia Evans

The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond

Patricia Evans has several books in print on the topic of verbal abuse. I read this one first, and it helped a lot to show me how to put my feelings and experiences into perspective. Almost everything fit my situation, exactly.

There were things I didn’t immediately understand, but the more I read, the more I understood what verbal abuse was doing to me. What an amazing revelation! I recommend this book to anyone going through the experience.

I purchased Patricia Evans’ book on verbally abusive relationships at Amazon. I bought the Kindle version and used the Kindle-for-PC app to read it so he wouldn’t know I had the book.

Verbal abuse isn’t just insults and name-calling. There’s so much more!

If you’re being verbally abused, I recommend you get a copy of Patricia Evans’ book. She also has a message board which she guards carefully. She takes time to talk to each and every person wanting access. She called me on my cell phone to discuss my situation and set up access to the board for me. I thought that was very kind of her!