Types Of Verbal Abuse

Types of verbal abuse range from full on anger to “forgetting” on purpose. Even the silent treatment is a type of verbal abuse! Verbal abusers use several other sneaky tactics to abuse and control their victims, too. Patricia Evans, author of many books about verbal abuse, defines several ways in which abusers control their victims (complete list at the bottom of this page).

Ms. Evans’s types of verbal abuse, used in combination, underlies crazy-making and makes domestic abuse in all its forms possible. Crazy making occurs when a victim is a victim without realizing they are a victim.

What?! Yes, crazy making twists words and actions around in so many ways that the victim of abuse doesn’t realize s/he is manipulated and abused. When the victim feels confused in this way, she waits intently for clarity from the abuser. When the abuser offers “clarity” it is often so welcome to the victim that she accepts his explanation without question.

types of verbal abuse can make you feel crazy

No matter how stupid and illogical his explanation, she plugs it into her brain and believes it holds the key to her sanity. She feels as if she understands her partner better, and increases her feelings of intimacy toward him. Even though he’s just fed her a hot, steamy bowl of crap, she accepts it as gratefully as if it were chocolate ice cream offered during PMS.

Male victims suffer the same reactions (albeit without the understanding of the PMS analogy). When the abuser releases her victim from the conversation, the victim may come to wonder things like, “What just happened?” and “Wait a minute…that doesn’t make much sense.”  He may also think, “Wow, I really am a horrible husband,” and suffer guilt for doing some very imaginary things to the abuser. The abuser can make you question if you are the abuser

Or perhaps the victim finds himself consoling his abuser who, of course, is now so hurt that she’s indulging in some crocodile tears and just can’t understand why he is so indifferent to her feelings! (Women serve up hot bowls of crap too.)

Crazy Making And The Types of Verbal Abuse Go Hand-In-Hand

These reactions also occur after verbal abuse. The types of verbal abuse, taken together or even one or two at a time, constitute not only crazy making, but the basis for every abusive relationship.

Patricia Evans offers a whole new understanding of domestic abuse, and I suggest you start reading now. Click the links below to compare notes with me. See if your partner uses these coercive devices too. Remember, recognizing domestic abuse is one of the most valuable skills you can develop. If you don’t recognize abuse when it happens, you cannot control your reaction to it. Download this worksheet to help you figure out how abuse happens to you.

Types of Verbal Abuse

*The categories listed above are from the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond by Patricia Evans, ISBN 1558505822, Adams Media Corporation, 1996. I highly recommend reading this book!


  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.

What do you think? Tell us!