Types of Verbal Abuse: Know Them And Save Your Sanity

Knowing the types of verbal abuse can put an end to the crazymaking and brainwashing of domestic violence and abuse. That’s a bold claim, but the reason you came to be abused is because you didn’t know what you were looking for. Once you learn the types of verbal abuse, it will be much harder for your partner to hurt you mentally or emotionally because you will see through what he or she is doing (or trying to do).

Types of Verbal Abuse, Brainwashing And Crazymaking

Crazymaking twists words and actions around in so many ways that the victim of abuse doesn’t realize s/he is manipulated and abused. Brainwashing prepares the victim to accept the lies of crazymaking and verbal abuse. The types of verbal abuse make crazymaking and brainwashing possible.

The types of verbal abuse amount to types of lies, and when the abuser employs crazymaking and brainwashing, too, it becomes very difficult to pull yourself out of the web. But that’s okay because this page explains the types of verbal abuse, you will learn them, and then your abuser can’t get away with them anymore.

Types of Verbal Abuse List With Description

Types of verbal abuse range from full on anger to forgetting on purpose. Even the silent treatment is a type of verbal abuse! The main point of every type of verbal abuse is to control the victim through confusion, delusion or fear. Recognizing the types of verbal abuse is the first step to overcoming its effects and regaining your mental health.

Identifying the types of verbal abuse is a valuable skill because if you cannot recognize abuse as it happens, you will not control your reactions to it.Each of the types of verbal abuse listed below links to a page that further explains the abuse and gives you suggestions on how to react to it. Changing your reaction to verbal abuse will change your relationship and lead to a stronger sense of self for you. Here’s a brief explanation of each of the types of verbal abuse:

Abuse Disguised As A Joke are jokes told at your expense that make you feel helpless or humiliated. You feel you should laugh with everyone else because they don’t see the abuse. Often, these jokes come from abuse inflicted at home that your partner wants to make light of in front of others.

Abusive Anger occurs when your partner does not use proper communication techniques. Instead, your partner throws a very scary tantrum complete with yelling, hitting or breaking things, getting in your face, or any other action that makes you freeze, flee, or fight back.

Accusing and Blaming is a type of verbal abuse that puts the current situation back on you as if you did something wrong. The abuser accuses you of cheating (that’s a big one) or trying to make him mad. The abuser blames you for whatever happened when there’s no way you could control it.

Blocking and Diverting is a type of verbal abuse in which the abuser does not let you get your point across usually because the abuser diverts the topic to something else. Sometimes, blocking means the abuser will not talk about what you want to talk about. At all.

Countering happens when the abuser will not accept what you say. It is different from disagreeing because countering can be so irrational that it is not considered a disagreement. Countering can make conversation so hard you stop offering your opinion, which is what your abuser wants you to do.

Denial is a type of verbal abuse that is exactly as it sounds: the abuser denies anything and everything, often to the point of irrationality like countering.

Deprivation or Withholding is a type of verbal abuse that involves little to no verbal communication. The abuser pulls away from the victim and won’t speak or touch or even acknowledge the victim (or your needs) exists.

Discounting happens when the abuser takes away from what you think, say or do so they do not have to face their poor behaviors. If the abuser can make you feel less important, then maybe you’ll leave them alone to do as they please.

Forgetting, especially forgetting things that are important to you, is another way to covertly tell you that you are unimportant or less than the abuser.

Judging and Criticizing is the type of verbal abuse in which the perpetrator puts you down without trying to hide it. The abuser will judge and criticize whether you’re alone or with other people.

Name Calling is exactly what it sounds like and often the only type of verbal abuse people understand to be abusive. However, there is more to name calling than you may think.

Ordering and Demanding occurs when your abuser tells you what to do and expects you to do it now. There is no excuse for not doing it now.

Threatening Behavior and Words is verbal abuse that borders on physical violence and includes overt threats to your safety (or your children, parents, pets, etc.)

Trivializing is a type of verbal abuse that takes away from your accomplishments, actions or ideas.

Undermining occurs when your abuser goes behind your back to sabotage you in some way.

*The types of verbal abuse listed above are from the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Expanded Third Edition: How to recognize it and how to respond by Patricia Evans, ISBN 1558505822, Adams Media Corporation, 1996. I highly recommend reading this book listing the types of verbal abuse and more!

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  1. Patrician Evans books are very helpful! I credit this list (when I found it on your blog a couple of years ago) with helping me identify what was “wrong” in my marriage, and helped me discover that I was not crazy.

  2. Mei-Lin Po says:

    My question is, is it possible for an abusive individual to come to understand the *wrongness* of what they are doing? I mean, I prefer to believe that they CAN, but in most cases an attempt to persuade them is just a waste of energy.

    • Sure, some abusers can understand how badly they’ve behaved and create the desire within themselves to change. How can you tell the difference between someone willing to change and someone giving you lip service to get you to stay? Watch their behavior more than listening to their words. Whether you want to stick around long enough to see if they change is up to you. Sometimes it is better to tell them once and if they don’t change just stay far away (like at work). You are right in saying persuading them that what they do is wrong is a waste of energy. Unless you want to spend a good part of your life “persuading” someone who doesn’t care one bit what you think of them, just leave the relationship as early as possible. By the way, Patricia Evans (author of several books on verbal abuse) says that she’s seen many men change their behavior – it is the women who do not change.

      • Patrick Stewart said that it is not the women who will end domestic violence, it will be the men. I think that is what you are saying Kellie. Men need to hold other men accountable and work with each other to end domestic violence, because for the most part, it is the men that are the abusers. Not all the time, but most of the time.

  3. What doesn’t change about the women. What does change in the men? This information is incredibly vague. Maybe the women need time away from their abusive counterparts in order to reflect, re-evaluate, consider and change. The abuser’s power is in his manipulation of a woman that he has broken down piece by piece.

    • You would have to ask Patricia Evans about what doesn’t change in women and what changes in men. I remember reading something about abusive women being “so damaged psychologically” that to turn them around from “acting like men” to acting “like women” is too difficult. At least for modern psychology. I don’t know if I believe that or not.

      Traditionally, women’s healthcare, including mental health care, develops much more slowly than men’s healthcare. I do have an opinion on that, but I suspect women’s healthcare knowledge will pick up now that more women are doctors and psychologists (and more) than in previous generations.

      And yes, women who are with abusive men DO need time away from them to regather themselves. The problem is that abused people can stay blind to the abuse for a very long time. When they realize what is going on, victims often feel so weak that leaving the abuser seems impossible.

      • Why would you quote something if you don’t know the full meaning intended? It’s a valid question to ask what was meant by “it’s the women who do not change.” It sounds as if she’s blaming women for what is a mostly a men’s issue. And if Patricia Evans actually said that abusive women are so damaged psychologically that to turn them around from “acting like men” to acting “like women” is too difficult, I don’t think I have any interest in reading anything she has to say. What exactly constitutes “acting like a woman” as opposed to “acting like a man”? (Rhetorical) Neither group owns the right to act in any specific way. Here’s what I know for certain: If you’re an abusive relationship, get out of it any way you can. People don’t change, only circumstances change. Change your circumstances.

      • The meaning intended is quite clear. When someone says out of the thousands of people she’s spoken to that not one abusive woman has given her a call back so she can coach their change, it means that women do not change. Men will.

        Men’s main hormones are testosterone which makes them act out more violently (in plenty of situations) than women. If you do not believe there is a fundamental difference in men and women, then there are problems ahead for you. Women do not “act like men” as a whole. Men do not “act like women” as a whole. Two genders, two general sets of actions and reactions. Speaking in generalities, women act like women and men act like men. For healthy men and women, this is as it should be.

        No one said any group “owned the right to act in any specific way”. THere are ALWAYS exceptions. Therefore, women who are less likely to change after becoming abusers do not “own that way to act” and should change. But why don’t they?

  4. Wow! That’s really something, Patricia Evans finding no abusive women willing to change! Explains my marriage. A friend who marriage counseled us together with his wife observed that she got a measure of recovery and decided I was the problem all along. I came from a healthy family, dad passed when I was 48. My parents raised their voices to each other maybe twice that I ever heard- not really loud and over in 5 minutes. My ex- father in law was a verbally abusive alcoholic while my ex was growing up. I would really like to read more about what constitutes women abusing men. My ex is a wonderful woman and an excellent registered nurse, but was a horrible wife. Nothing I ever did was good enough except the money I made when I went back to long distance trucking to get away from the filthy house and her craziness. I simply could not keep up with the dirty dishes and laundry as fast as she could make a mess. I finally got her to keep the house orderly enough to bring in a housecleaning service. When I came off the road I told her she would have to step up & take care of the bills until I could establish an income to replace the trucking. That was quite an affront, although I had given her a household allowance to cover all the bills for many years, leaving her to have all the money she earned to be totally at her discretion. We went to a marriage counselor provided by her job and she saw no need for her to change. My assessment was she needed to do 90% of the change and I needed to do 10%. The marriage counselor apparently saw the writing on the wall as his efforts were less than enthusiastic. I came home one day to find some furniture gone, ran to the living room and exclaimed: GOOD! She took the TV!

    I had found a letter from my sister to her in which my sister was siding with her. And this, from a woman with years of counseling, who complained frequently about triangulation amongst her family! While married I never spoke a word to my family against her, so naturally they believed her skewed perceptions. After the divorce I told my mom & sisters what had really gone on and they remembered some unkind things my ex had said to me in their hearing.

    Am I crazy for wanting to meet a loving woman and start a family at age 62? Cuz I sure didn’t want to bring a child into that emotional maelstrom. By the time she got healed enough to consider a child, she had severe female problems and needed a hysterectomy. Unfortunately, her son, age 11 when we married, was an alcoholic at age 30 when we divorced. My ex was a compulsive overeater and I never saw her drunk, but a gallon of wine would mysteriously disappear.

    Contrast that one with abuser #2. I got involved with an alcoholic. However, gotta hand it to that one. She raised a wonderful daughter who graduated high school with honors, has a stable relationship, lives on her own, took a year off to work before entering college. Who says of her mom “when she’s not drinking she’s the most awesome person on the planet”, calling her “my hero and role model”

    How can a fairly well recovered woman raise an alcoholic and a drunk raise a normal, wonderful girl?

    Again, in both cases I assumed some of the behavior was simply woman stuff because of the neurological differences between men and women. One female author on relationships wrote about men being able to compartmentalize and can only focus on one thing at a time, while a woman’s mind has emotional things in her thinking all the time. Sometimes I can’t even identify what particular negative feeling I’m experiencing till days later when its over, I just know something has put me off base. I had a wonderful, great dad & a good mom. But my mom is rather passive and last born. I want a strong woman, not like mom, as I am first born.

    So reading what constitutes abuse would be helpful.

    I’m well aware of what constitutes some abuse, like physical abuse or name calling, making global statements (you always or you never), but emotional manipulation usually goes right over my head.

    The crazy making as a woman would do to a man in particular.

    • 1) Your wife was a wonderful woman and nurse – abusers are beautiful people in public, monsters at home (as your wife).

      2) Although PMS can be severe enough to be a disorder according to the DSM-V, the fact remains that no one deserves abuse even if their loved one is mentally ill (naturally or after a stroke or whatever). Mental illness is no more your fault than hers. I don’t know if she had a mental illness or not, and it really doesn’t matter – she could and would use her unpredictability to keep you off balance and not knowing what was coming, and that is emotional abuse.

      3.) Your first wife financially abused you. Some would say she “took advantage” but it means the same thing in this case. Just as you gave 90% to her 10% in counseling, you gave all financially and she gave nothing.

      4.) Marriage counseling does not work when you’re married to an abuser. Abusers do not admit they need to change anything about themselves. And if they do admit it and start to show change, they take it back as soon as they think they’ve sucked you back into the relationship. There is never any real change on the part of someone who uses you to make themselves feel better.

      5.) You being out of touch with your emotions is not a male/female brain difference. It is a hallmark sign of abuse. During the relationship, you are forced to focus on the abuser’s emotions and actions to protect yourself or get ready to defend yourself or prepare to explain yourself… Your emotions are dangerous to your abuser because if you feel them at the appropriate time, you might do something about your abuser’s horrid behavior. (Distraction, diverting and blocking are especially good techniques to separate one from their emotions.

      6.)Anytime there is substance abuse involved, you will most likely find domestic abuse. Go to an Al-Anon meeting for family members of alcoholics. You will identify with much more than her alcoholism as it pertains to both of your wives’ treatment of you.

      7.) Emotional abuse, by design, goes right over everyone’s head. It’s emotional, not mental. Compound it with society teaching men that their feelings are weaker than their thoughts and you have a crap-load of abused men who don’t recognize the abuse. It works the same with women – emotional abuse gives a mysterious, did-i-just-feel-that? internal reaction. By the time the thrust of the emotionally abusive incident passes, the victim is either twisted up in verbal games or alone to wonder if what they felt was real or not.

      8.) The child of your alcoholic wife is like many other children raised by alcoholics. Her daughter became her caretaker from a very young age. The roles got reversed, and when the roles between parent/child are reversed it is a sign of emotional and mental abuse. Whether her daughter sees this or wants to ignore it, you can’t give your 2nd wife credit for her daughter’s success. Her daughter succeeded in spite of her as does everyone involved with alcoholics. (Opposite side of the spectrum is the child acts just like the parent.)

      Those are just 8 things I thought of looking over your comment. There are surely many more. Although I know of few books about men being victims of abuse, there is a hotline that caters to men especially that you should call. The Domestic Violence Hotline for Men and Women can be found here: http://verbalabusejournals.com/2012/05/abuse-hotlines/. Call and talk to them. I am not convinced that women and men abuse “differently” – I think they abuse much in the same ways. They use the same formula because the formula works.

      Trust your instincts on how your wives abused you! If you think it was abuse, it probably has a name related to abuse. Once you can name it, you can see it, and you can avoid it in the future.

      I believe that sitting down and writing out what a “strong woman” is – exactly – will help you choose a strong one next time. Abusers give off the image YOU want to see (at first) and by the time they reveal their true selves, you already think they’re exceptional women everywhere but home. Meaning, you’re already brainwashed when you see the abuse that you don’t want to call abuse and would rather assume to be your fault because at least you can fix yourself…… Run-on sentence for sure, but that’s how thinking works when you’re with an abuser – there is no time to fricking THINK.

      And finally, I’m glad your mother and sister finally got their stuff together and defended you in court. Your first wife hoodwinked them, too – and that tells me she was very good at what she did – pulling the wool over other people’s entire freaking head so they couldn’t see her for what she was. She isolated you well.

      I am so relieved that you are out of both relationships. Try talking on the hotlines and see if you can get some individual counseling before stepping into another romantic relationship. You need to let your heart heal a bit.

      • Anonymous says:

        Amazing advice. My wife is abusive and I have just come to grips with it. This has helped me so much. Thank you!

      • Tom’s experience resembles mine in a lot of ways. Your description of how this abuse works is congruent with what I am experiencing! I am about to weep from emotional exhaustion after reading this. I feel trapped though, as I have two very young children within my short marriage. This abuse has gone on for a few years, and broke me down to search elsewhere for attention. This choice got me into a lot of trouble, as my guilt now weighs on top of the abuse. I never slept with the other woman, never even saw her. Only talked to her online. I know what I did is a huge mistake. My emotional distress caused by her abuse led me to that point. I don’t blame her for my choice, only the pain she has caused me. She completely diverts, counters, crazy makes my head spin to a point where I have no idea where to go next. The thing that gets me in all of this is her own mother is very narcissistic and a master verbal abuser. My wife is a product of it. I can see where it all comes from. I have tried and tried to tell her to stop for her own fear of becoming her mother. She listens to nothing. She refuses counsel, stating I am the one responsible for her pain and I need to go. I did go, and it helped me in other ways but not with this abuse. I have only recently come to grips with it. I would have left by now if it weren’t for my children. I fear for their little minds taking abuse from her. So I feel paternal instinct kicking in to protect them. The only way I can do that is to stay…for now. I am lost and don’t know what to do.

    • I am a strong woman coming out of a 22 yr long abusive relationship….not my first. I would love to meet someone like Tom. I have worked through rejection issues as a result of being adopted but have made poor choices in men. 1st husband was physically and emotionally abusive and got a woman pregnant leaving me to raise his children. I never even took what I was entitled to as I was devastated and not thinking straight. I had been raised Catholic so I assumed you got married and you stayed married for life. This made everything so much worse as my church was not there for me either. I became somewhat premiscuous as something in me died. I dated a man on and off for 4 years but he drank too much so I would not commit. I started dating a so-called Christian man from work for a year. We married but two months in at Christmas he gave me nothing and informed me he only married me to get back at his ex. QUOTE!!!! I didn’t even bother going to court because it was surreal. My wonderful Lutheran pastor was there for me and my family to give comfort. Not done yet. Stupid me marries the drunk who professed he had changed and “..if I was better to you you would have never married that guy” bla bla bla. I did. 2 months in he was back to drinking and became physically abusive. I divorced him. I found out he since died. My kids dad and ex is still married to the woman he left me for. I am now alone at age 60. I own a little condo, retired from State service after 30 years, have a lovely church, great friends, grandchildren, a job I enjoy with a boss I think highly of. I have a small savings and a paid-for new car. I just came out of a 22 yr emotionally abusive relationship. I beat myself up mentally over the years by picking bad men. I felt maybe I was not worthy to be loved. I KNOW THAT IS A LIE! I am a precious child of God who is worthy to love and be loved. I have been through hell but I am still standing and know that I am a good person. I am at peace in my heart and spirit. It is sad that so many decent and good people end up with toxic people. I want the time I have in life to be healthy and peaceful. I am strong and blessed. God bless each and every person on this site. You are all courageous survivors!

  5. My guy has recently developed a mental illness that behaves as schizophrenia but his favorite type of powerful abuse towards me is holding me or my belongings captive. Or the I’m famous I never left you ransom.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow!! Totally my ex….I got an injunction against her. She broke it, got arrested yet everything is my fault. Tells strangers I’m a bad person. Never accepted Responsibility for anything that has happened in her life. This really helped me to read this. Make me feel validated!! Thank you and please keep up the great work!!!

  7. Sarcasm can also be verbally abusive

    • You know something Anne? Sarcasm and making fun of people were my abuser’s ONLY forms of humor. Sarcasm, the lowest form of humor they say, can most definitely be verbally and emotionally abusive.

      • Sarcasm is a big issue in this house, thank you for saying that. I have even gone so far as to ask that he “wiki” it to discover the tue meaning. The lowest form of humor indeed – falls from mouths of cowards and bullies.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I feel it hard to compare with my crush..She is a kind of making me so unhappy .. I could relate her behaviour to ”
    Blocking and Diverting & Countering
    she communicate with all with great courtesy. but not to me.. with me she is really a fighter

  9. Anonymous says:

    My oldest daughter is verbally abusive. She is condescending, demeaning, belittles, ignores me and uses herself and my grandchild as a pawn. She does not see that she is verbally abusive. She also does not understand how it affects me. I already suffer from PTSD, severe depression, anxiety and, social anxiety. When she treats me like this it makes me feel guilt and shame. She constant says that I am just having a pity party when I am depressed. How do I deal with this?

    • Omg…I read these slides and this is my wife to a tee. I cannot believe what I am seeing. I have felt worthless for so long. The cheating part really gets me. She accused me of cheating for so long (to the point i had elicit conversations with someone last year, obv didnt help). My friend told me that she slept with her ex. I confronted her and she defended her ex! After I told her that I didn’t even trust her ex or anything he said! She got pregnant with my son close to that time frame my friend had said. She went crazy! Screaming, blaming, threatening she would take my son from me! It took me a long time but I truly think she didn’t know who the father was until after his birth. I am so distraught right now.

  10. ann cahill says:

    My husband of 40 yrs. is practices every one of these techniques. I left him once for 5 yrs but stupidly went back. He was nice for a couple yrs but now he’s his old self. Drinks and when he isn’t he’s dry drunk. I had some strokes from high bp from stress. I am trying to recover but he hounds me about the bills. Threatens to walk out and leave us high and dry. (My daughter and grandson live here) The doctor caught him harassing me about the car battery while I was hooked up to my EGG and put him out. When the neurologist came to consult he was sitting there rudely reading a newspaper and peeling through the pages. When asked if we could be excused he threw a fit and said,”She just doesn’t want me to hear what she says!” He smokes cigarettes in my face and hopes I complain. What would a lawyer think? What are my rights? I am now very high risk for a fatal stroke and still he abuses me verbally.

  11. Kxxxxxxxxx says:

    This site’s content does not contain professional medical or therapeutic advice. Neither Kellie Jo Holly nor the mentors are counselors or doctors.

    • Yes, that is true. Says so on every page of the website. Thank you for pointing out that Kellie Jo Holly and all of the mentors related to this site have left abusive relationships. We have experienced them and come out on the other side.

  12. Living dead girl says:

    Im in my mid 30s. I am abused all the time. I am living a sad abused manipulated life. (I can admit this right now). But it’sBecause HE said I deserve it.if I was a better person he would treat me better. I’m done with that. Almost a week no contact with that lying mother fucker that I love so much I had to let go so he can live doing his drugs and fucking up his life, without me making him a liar and a bad man . I am no longer accepting his loud ass voice screaming fuck you you fucking piece of shit you N, you fucking cunt, you stupid dumb fuck fuck you! I’m done being engraved with those words. I was stupid for ever allowing any disrespect to begin with. Years and years. Manipulated as fuck. Just shut the fuck up , do what I’m told, and it’ll get better. Denial. Ha. Fuck that. Fuck all that 🙁 do not allow no disrespect ever again whatsoever!!! Never again. You do not DESERVE that. I’m strong as fuck. But weak and sad and emotional and broken hearted it’s unbelievable. It’s true. I was a fool. But not anymore. Fuck that sad hate: ( I’m not a doormat anymore. I don’t want to hear no more mean ever again I think I got my fill about 15 years ago. Please no more!! I can’t take no more bad to me!!! No more pushing and screaming bad bad bad!! I’m so hurt I want to not even feel that I’m upset because of that anymore I’m so done wasting my time feeling im nothing good. Feeling I’m just worth lying to. I’m a dumb cunt. And he fucking hates me. I know I used to be someone!! I used to not be invisible!!

  13. I’m going on 6 days no contact. I’m letting him do him drugs in peace while I try to recover from all his abusive behaviors. He will come around one of these days, and I’m not willing to accept not one second of bullshit lies and disrespect. Years and years of being a shit catcher is more than enough. He’s wrong… I DON’T DESERVE TO BE TREATED LIKE THIS. IF I WERE A BETTER PERSON HE WOULD TREAT ME DIFFERENT… SO I’M A CUNT WHITE BITCH DUMB FUCK STUPID ASS N-WORD WORTH PUSHING SHOVING FLIPPING OFF SCREAMING IGNORING CUSSING DISRESPECTING LYING TO MY FACE AND I’M A UGLY UGLY PERSON.. FUNNY HOW I NEVER WAS ANY OF THOSE UNTIL HE LET ME KNOW…

  14. I’ve experienced all of the above. It was a relief to know someone understands and can explain all of what I’ve gone through. I plan to close this part of my story and began again healthy.😌

  15. There are 4 abusers in my life, three are women. My father (psychopath), my mother (gaslighted into oblivion/abuser by proxy), my sister (coping mechanism growing up was to adapt and adopt traits to avoid targeting) and my wife (i was trained early on to pair up beautifully with an abuser). Im finding in my research, and granted I’m extrapolating, and this is only my opinion, that there are more female covert abusers than male. I wonder how many abusers are collaterally concealed beneath the (mis)understanding that most abusers are men? Remember, all abusers were victims. So at some point, the numbers should average out.

    • I agree that women could be culprits in just as many vicious, abusive relationships as men. Men should start speaking up more, reaching out for help. If men would do that, then the research could be more accurate. I don’t believe one sex abuses MORE than the other. I only wish we had the numbers to show it. In reality, this is a human problem, not only a woman’s problem.

      One thing though – not all abusers were victims. Some people are missing that “sensitivity chip” that Jennifer Aniston mentioned years ago. Not all abusers are mentally ill, but there are some who are. They display symptoms of illnesses like antisocial personality disorder (sociopath/psychopath), narcissistic personality disorder and the like. There’s also something called the “abusive personality” which isn’t in the DSM-5, but it’s making it’s rounds through research.

      Okay, one other thing. Of the men I’ve mentored, the biggest problem I’ve noticed is the anger. Men have a difficult time getting past being so angry – and that, of course, ruins joy and the life they lead after abuse. Many, many men decide to “hate all women” after being abused (whereas the women I’ve mentored may hate “that man”). Don’t get me wrong, you have a right to be angry! Just be aware that there is help available to work through anger and come out healthier on the other side.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been married 23 years. He verbally and emotionally abuses me when I express my frustrations or opinions or feelings. He will tell me I’m wrong, He will use what I say against me “Your family hates you because it’s your fault” or rage uncontrollably at me “Fuck you, you fucking bitch”. He has screamed this at me countless times. I’ve told him several times that when he swears at me it hurts and feels like he’s sticking a knife in me. I do not swear back at him. Recently, I requested that we close the door to our master bedroom when relatives came to visit (It desperately needs a remodel), and his reply was to yell “It’s my house, I can do what I want. I’m just going to sell it.”. (fyi. it’s our house… why does he have to threaten?). If my son and I are having a simple disagreement, my husband will walk in, assert his control by saying “Settle” like we are dogs and not people entitled to have a discussion. Driving with him is no picnic – he swears at other drivers who of course can’t hear him but I can. If I’m driving, he tells me how I should be driving. I can’t even talk right…. If he asks me a question and I don’t answer like he wants me to, he gets mad… He will demand “Answer the question.. it’s either “yes” or “no””. When he rages, he very very rarely apologizes.. he will see me in tears and he will just act like it’s over and he’ll leave to go somewhere and then text me “do we need something from the store?”. It floors me. It hurts me because he doesn’t care how he makes me feel. He has forgot my birthday, anniversary and valentines day (not every year, but a few times). I can’t seem to get his words out of my head “Fuck you you fucking bitch”. I cry almost every day. It’s challenging to get in a positive mindset socially because I’m afraid someone will ask “how are you?” and I’ll just start crying. I need to get into a positive mindset and learn ways to deal with my husband. We have son who will be a Sr. in HS next year so I can’t leave now. I need to use this next year to fix me. Advice?

  17. Kimberlee Bradley says:

    Wow. These descriptions of the abuse makes me feel stronger. For so long I’ve been confused so lost and stuck. I felt hopeless and didn’t know how I got here. I need the book now.

  18. I think it is a very good way to provide any kind of abuse

  19. Hi Kellie, I would like to know your opinion on two things:

    a) Can these abuses be somewhat subconcious from the abuser? I have experienced almost all types of abuses and had just catogorize them into one name: manipulation and wondered if you could be unconciously manipulating someone. I ask this as I have a friend who is there for me in bad times, yet at times name calling, judging and critizing, and countering happens. And it makes me question whether I should trust her as a friend.

    b) I recently learned that my mother was and still is narcisstic and which explains the invalidation I suffered my whole childhood. I did grow up with extremely low self-esteem and eventually hit depression in my 20s. I’ve come out of the worst waves but still it’s a long ongoing process. I started dating and ended up dating a narcissist as well. Of course it wasn’t clear from day one and I was attracted to what I saw from my perspective was confidence. As I lacked confidence my whole life I wanted to learn from him. But those invalidations started arising from him too. I called him out on it, maybe not in the best way, to which I assume he felt completely threatend and he broke up with me. Having gone through lots and lots of pain and suffering (I was also ‘locked up’ in a hospital due to suicidal risks), I am well enough to see that it was a blessing to depart from him. However I do worry if it was also subconcious from my side, that I get pulled back into old environment i.e being attracted to narcissists. Is it a deadly cycle, having experience abuse and unknowingly seeking it again and again? At the moment, I do prefer men who are more on the strong dominating side, but that doesn’t mean without limits.

    • Yes, some people have truly learned to be abusive and don’t know any better. However, once you’re an adult and have some experience in the world, it’s likely someone somewhere has called you on your shit. Told you that you were abusive, or perhaps just an a$$hole. And, once you’ve been in the world and have experienced fair, kind treatment from others, it would be natural to compare that experience to how you treat others.

      I’m saying that ‘normal’ adults who have learned to be abusive are not without empathy for other people. ‘Normal’ adults want to receive and give love and will do what it takes to unlearn the abusive lessons and learn to be kind.

      So, your mother is not a ‘normal’ person if she is diagnosed as a narcissist. It doesn’t matter if she knows she is abusive or not as far as you’re concerned, as you can’t ‘fix’ her (or anyone else) anyway. All you can do is shield yourself.

      And yes, you could be drawn to the familiarity of an abusive pattern. You could be drawn to narcissists because you spent the better part of your life with one and, for better or worse, learned how to cope in that environment. The brain’s desire for familiarity is very strong (it knows how to protect you in familiar environments, it thinks).

      As for being drawn to confident men, that in and of itself is not a problem. However, until you become confident in yourself on your own, you will likely end up with the jerks. I also thought I could learn from my “assertive” ex, but all I learned was how to bully, manipulate and coerce. Work on your self-esteem, and your self-confidence. Then you, on your own, can learn the difference between “confident” and “manipulating.”

      Finally, for your friend. Tell her you notice certain things that make you uncomfortable. Tell her that you’d like to talk about your friendship because you believe she’s a good person. Let her know that if that negative behavior continues, you’ll have to spend less time together.

  20. I stumbled on this website looking for more answers to fight the abuse my DH put my girls and me through. He had an affair w my close friend for several years before I found out. After confronting him when I discovered they were still in contact several months later I ended up leaving for nearly two years, caring for dad who had a stroke. We both did counseling and the councilor suggested I move back and try to make it work. Long story short, he is still involved w her saying she keeps contacting him. I said STOP responding to her and it will stop. He showed me 2 emails she sent to say she was done w him. The worst of it is they are both alcoholics and drank and fought a lot. She’s now in a divorce with her own husband and angry my husband is still w me. She is the mom of our daughter’s fiancé and her son is a momma boy. My daughter won’t speak to me now becuz I didn’t leave him yet. Many times the past year I’ve tried to divorce him, but I find myself. Not wanting to leave. Also we have our middle daughter living w us w our grandson, and she relies on me for help. I have found my voice, not scared of leaving him as I was before. But honestly, the thought of leaving and striking out on my own after 30 years of marriage intimidates me. I have a councilor and attend a Celebrate Recovery codependent group most weeks. I am hoping to hear from anyone here…!😌. Thank

  21. Knowing my wife about 10 years and married for 7, I do not have any single doubt that she is an abuser. Name-calling, forgetting, humiliating “jokes”, explosions and breaking things, throwing plate (once in 10 years) and such and more…I perceive her as a whole though, because she is not off course 100% of the time abuser, it comes and goes. I am so strongly attached to her and love her truly. I know I cannot help her with everything but I try to support her in any way I can, even though she hurts me from time to time I feel strong enough to deal with my emotions, or the abuse is not at a high level that i cant manage….I don’t know, may be it is the experiences I had with my abusive father and had found a way around it. i just go with my feelings and when I see her she is again kicking in with her abusive behaviors again, I just say, ok here it is again and I can really distinguish myself from the moment and focus on my love on my family. That way I can manage the whole period and survive out of it, but I cant say it does not leave any damage. I am well aware of her past, her family life, extremely abusive mother and an alcoholic father she had, but found some love from her lovely grandmother and that gave her a lovely side.

    I am also thinking about me and my current relationships with women and friends, I can see I am not clean in terms of being abusive. I recently keep silent and avoid seeing a friend, because he is an alcoholic. I mean, I tried to control his alcohol habit, even telling him to drink that much that day and this much the other day…after seeing him he is not working enough about this I warned him and cut my contact. Actually, I warned him kindly explaining I cant continue seeing him because he is drunk almost every day and I told him his drinking culture is effecting me in a bad way, and even though I was not drinking as much as him (1-2 beers a day) i told him that I had decided to stop drinking and his daily routine is effecting me and making me drink more and more as I interact with him….he blamed me I was behaving him badly. Actually, constantly sending me meaningless texts, I understand that he was not expecting this and frustrated because of my recent behavior… I don’t know if my behavior here is abusive but in the past I had several attempts on trying to control my friend’s lives as such.

    I might also have abusive moments towards my wife, I remember once she is telling me, “why are you always against my opinions ?” …after me constantly not agreeing with her about her political ideas in different time periods. I took it as a sign that may be I was not showing enough respect and take her opinions serious enough….because whenever she goes deep in conversation and explaining her ideas I understood that I tend to make her (not interrupting her actual speech) stop talking about that topic because her opinion makes no sense to me. She never blames me in such moments, and only once asked me in a peaceful voice why I am always against her opinions. I truly spent time working on it, and I am confident I improved showing her more than several times that I value her opinions, and I am aware that this improvement should be constant and not changing or simply going back in time. I trust her judgments to some point, and she warns me I have been critical, or judgemental, simply putting my nose in every detail and overly excited exaggerating and selfish person from time to time. She might be right, but off course I am aware I do not deserve any form of abuse because of those. She is not abusive all the time off course and when I talk about her behavior later in the right manner, she always understands me, shows love back and I feel fine, which makes me stronger to fight and defeat the side effects of our damaging effects to our family…I can say, we find times to share that we are working together to improve things up…
    Whenever she goes out of the line, I always tell her how much I love her and how much I support her and what matter is her happiness and our family’s happiness. I think she appreciates that, is aware and gives her personal fight for her damaging sides.

    Even though we have some sad moments, I trust her and I think that’s what made me keep going…I might sound like a victim who has made peace with being a victim. No, I am just doing whatever it takes to keep my wife, 7 year old son and myself happy. Off course, abusive behaviors are not accepted, and are dealt. If things go to a point making individuals constantly hurting, sad and damaging…separation is always a way and I am in peace with such an option.

    Thank you for reading.

    (Excuse me please, English is not my first language)

    • Hi Eduardo,

      My name is Janet and I work here at Verbal Abuse Journals. From what you are saying I do not see you as an abusive person. Not agreeing with someone’s point of view does not make you abusive. Abuse in a relationship is about one person wanting power and control over the other person. They achieve this through fear and intimidation. The victim starts monitoring their own words and actions in order to avoid the abuse. The term is called “walking on egg shells.” I see, in a lot of what you wrote, you trying to cope in two abusive situations, one with your friend and the other with your wife. With your friend if he is an alcoholic you cannot control his drinking. His issue is not really the drinking. The drinking is his way to cope with tough issues that he is struggling with or avoiding. The drinking will only stop if he admits he has a problem and takes the steps (preferably with AA) to deal with his addiction and why it is happening. It is good that you have stepped away from this relationship because it sounds unhealthy. Way to go for recognizing that. His texts to you seem to be him trying to pull you back into his world where he had a drinking buddy. I urge you to continue choosing not to participate. If anything referring him to a local AA Chapter would be helpful.

      Now your wife’s behaviour is abusive, you are right about that. I admire your dedication to her, but irregardless of her past she is an adult and she is responsible for her actions. Let me also say that she is very aware of what she is doing. My ex came from a troubled childhood and I thought that because of that, that caused his abusive behaviour. It caused me to give him a leniency he did not deserve. Being abused as a child does increase your chances of being abusive IF you choose not to learn better coping skills. We all have parts of our past that are bad but as adults we are responsible for how we act. Has your wife ever expressed interest in doing individual counselling, to learn better coping skills? I do not suggest couples counselling because this is actually not a couples issue. This is her individual issue. Also going into couples counselling with someone who is abusive can continue the abuse. Most often abusive people will turn the tables in joint counselling and abuse their victim in front of the counsellor. If the counsellor is not skilled in the dynamics of abusive behaviour they may not pick up on what is happening and may be manipulated by the abusive person. In the end the victim usually gets blamed for the abuse. The abuse is never the victims fault. That is why I suggest individual counselling, probably for both of you. Her to admit that she is abusive and deal with why she is that way. For you to learn how to set boundaries in your relationship, how to let her know what you will and will not accept and how to cope so that you can stay healthy. You deserve that and so does your son. I hope all of that makes sense. If you have any questions please comment again. Take care,


      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Janet, this is Eduardo. I have read your comments once you posted and read again couple of times. Thinking about all from time to time. And being not sure for long, I am now in search of a counselor.

  22. I am against any type of abuse, however we are only human and we should not be quick to judge. To be honest I think we all probably abused someone at some point but I believe in the goodness of people and I know nobody is perfect, it is up to us to help each other. We have nothing if we don’t have each other.

  23. Anonymous says:

    My step moms mom has been telling me and my little brother of 7 how horrible and mean we are to our faces for thee past year. And once my brother and step sister got in a fight and she told my little brother (7 years old) that if he were her kid she would beat him. Would you consider this verbal abuse?

    • Very much so! I am so sorry you and your siblings are going through this. What does your dad say? Are you able to tell your mother? Another support line you may want to look into is the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or their website at kidshelpphone.ca for more support. Take care.

  24. Ayla Hagan says:

    Could a person throwing sudden fits of anger and lashing out verbally be considered verbal abuse? Especially if it includes yelling, making the other person or persons cry, and arguing with them and saying that the person doesn’t understand and that they won’t ever understand?

  25. Karina says:

    Thank you for this article. Knowing the specific types of verbal abuse has helped me tremendously. I left my miserable relationship. When my daughter is old enough I can provide her with this information as a way to teach her about potentially abusive relationships and help her cope with her very charming yet extremely psychologically and verbally abusive father.

    I feel there is an additional type of verbal abuse that is not listed in this article. I am trying to sort it out and give it a name to help myself recover and hopefully help others. It is a form of diversion that is very psychologically torturous. My ex did this on a continual basis and I knew another man that did this to his wife and kids as well.

    It would start with me in a good mood and saying something benign like, “I think I want to invite friends over for dinner next week and make spaghetti.” Instead of a normal back-and-forth progressive conversation, about our thoughts on inviting friends over for dinner, I would get a harsh response in a severely ugly tone like,

    Me: Well, we can have your friends over and I’ll make what you want to eat.


    Me: What I said was just an idea about something I would like to do. We can still talk about your ideas too.


    Me: Because I am thinking out loud and throwing out some ideas that might be fun. But we could still have your friends over and make what you want. You know I love to entertain and I can cook what you want. I can’t give you a different response though, because my first response was honest and sincere and I don’t think there was anything terribly wrong with it.


    Me: Can I clarify or re-phrase what I said then. By friends, I mean your friends as well. You know I like your friends and they are always welcome.


    Me: But communication is a process. A back-and-forth respectful exchange. I cannot predict exactly how you want me to say something to you before we’ve even discussed it. Why don’t we talk about the subject rather than analyzing everything I say. Who would you like to have over…


    I would use fair fighting rules for my own peace of mind. So I would not feel more guilt or question too harshly my part in the argument. I would try to leave the conversations, but after our child was born I could not. He would grab the baby if I tried, then scare the baby with yelling horrible profanities at me. These exchanges could last well over an hour and happened every time we were on our way to visit his friends. At the time, especially being a mom of a little baby, I would show up places totally stunned, then try to pull it off as if everything was fine.

    • You’ve got a bunch of different abuse tactics going on there, Karina. Holy crap. I recognize abusive anger, accusing and blaming, blocking and diverting, countering, denial, namecalling, threatening words and behavior, and physical violence (when he takes the baby, holding both you and your child hostage out of fear of harm).

      On top of all of that, you have your natural reactions to deal with: fear, confusion, wanting to leave but being unable to do so and more. I remember my ex doing similar things to me on the way to his work functions. By the time we got there, I was a frazzled mess but he was calm and collected. It was easy to convince his friends that I was the crazy one when they saw the aftermath of the attacks.

      I don’t know if there’s one word to describe everything you could go through in one conversation, so if you decide on one, let me know.

  26. Thank you for your response Kellie Jo. He is still doing some of this via email. He will send me a long ranting email full of statements and criticisms. I respond to his email. Then he responds back with accusatory comments like, “You never addressed this… You didn’t acknowledge this…” It is like his conversations are not intended to communicate any real information about our child. They are intended to find fault, lay blame and criticize. In normal communication if there is something specific you would like addressed or acknowledged, you would simply ask a question like, “What do you think of this… or “Did you receive my email about ….”. With honest communication the email conversations would be simple and actually resolve a real issue. Communication with this “gentleman” is deliberately intended to confuse, criticize, and intimidate. He says something, I respond, then I get blasted for not responding in the correct manner, although he never asked me a direct question. If he genuinely wanted an answer to a question or genuinely wanted to resolve an issue, he could just ask a simple question like, “What do you think about having my friends over for dinner instead?”.

    I always felt like I would need super natural powers to read his mind in order to know how to respond to him and be in a relationship with him. Now I know super natural powers would never be enough because whatever response I gave would be blasted and met with anger regardless. His intent all along was to intimidate and criticize. I am still searching for a name for this. I know one other person who did this continually to his wife and his children. I am sure it is a tactic used in prisoner interrogation type situations. If I had a name for it, I would be able to explain it better to our child as she gets older. If anyone has any thoughts or experience with this please do share. One of the harder things was to be asked a question, then I give an honest answer, then I’m told my response was wrong. Then he would ask the question again and tell me I can’t answer with my original response. That would back me into a corner. If I have to think of a different response than my original honest response, I am almost forced to come up with a lie. Very intimidating because lies of course would be met with anger and would go against my personal values. As an adult, I can walk away from this. My child however, will be alone with this “gentleman”.

    • Karina, you are, of course correct in your description of abuse. That is EXACTLY the type of runaround abusers give to their target. It’s insanity, and you know it.

      I don’t believe anyone has labelled this group of abusive behaviors with one descriptor. It’s blocking, diverting, intimidating behavior, accusing… SO MANY tactics rolled into one well-oiled machine. Let’s see,…

      Countering happens when the abuser will not accept what you say.

      Blocking and diverting does not let you get your point across.

      Discounting happens when the abuser takes away from what you think, say or do.

      Accusing and blaming is a type of verbal abuse that puts the current situation back on you as if you did something wrong.

      Trivializing is a type of verbal abuse that takes away from your accomplishments, actions or ideas.

      In teaching your daughter about this person, keep the different categories in mind so you can break them down when you need to. In general though, you could create a word or phrase to describe the entire situation, so your daughter will not feel overwhelmed with information.

      For example, I used to tell myself that my ex was in “John-John Land” where what he said and did made sense to him, the supreme ruler of that imaginary place. It helped me detach myself from the nonsense he was spouting without complicating the experience with concise labels. He was such a smooth, fast talker that he intertwined several types of verbal abuse together seamlessly, as does the gentleman you deal with.

      Now that I think about it, there is one word that might help you communicate this to your daughter: Brainwashing.

      Overall, it seems that the methods he uses boil down to his desire of making you believe a lie, doubt your experience, and become willing to agree with him on a small thing so he can build that small thing up into a new memory. Maybe brainwashing is a term you could teach your daughter.

      Here’s a link to a post about it: http://verbalabusejournals.com/about-abuse/brainwashing-intelligence/brainwashing-steps/

  27. Is repeating a phrase over and over and blaming someone repeatedly harrasment?

    • It depends. If someone is asking you to leave them alone because they feel abused, it is not harassment.

      I need to know a bit more about the situation to respond appropriately.

  28. Please resposnd on what you think,,,I question myself, because of what I hear from him..I do not think that I am unstable, crazy and a bad person like he says….This cannot be the right way to treat your partner…But I do feel like I am loosing my mind here…I wAnt my old self back…I have lost motivation for my life…All I do, is work and every time I feel things are getting better, he is there waiting to saw me that I am wrong… 🙁

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