Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Name-Calling Is Pure Verbal Abuse

woman crying while sitting by the bed on the floor. Text says name-calling

What Is the Purpose of Name-Calling?

If your partner calls you ugly names or sweet things but in a sarcastic tone, then you are verbally abused. Sometimes, not calling you by name at all is abusive too.

Abusive people name-call in hope that you will feel unworthy, stupid, and as if who you are isn’t good enough. When abusers “rename” you, they diminish your importance in their own minds, too. In essence, by taking away your real name and your identity, they erase you. Once you are erased, an abuser can place the identity on you that they want. This is where the name-calling comes into play.

When abusers engage in name-calling, they’re actually saying, “You do not exist.  I annihilated you…  Now that you are wiped out, I’m in control, just like in a war.”

Patricia Evans, author of several books about verbal abuse

How My Husband Uses Name-Calling

Typically, my husband doesn’t use my name. He calls me “woman”, “your mother” or nothing at all around the house. I’m “Hey!” or “the wife” when we’re with company. It’s obvious to me that he wants me to fill his idea of three roles: woman, mother, or wife. That is all I can be to him. Ever. In his mind, my individuality has disappeared. When I do something he thinks a person in my role shouldn’t do, he berates me with ugly names. That’s when the abuse happens – when I challenge his idea of who I am.

My husband calls me names for two reasons, I think.

  • to humiliate me.
  • to deny my existence to himself. In his mind, the best way to stay in complete control is to erase the one questioning him – me.

How to React to Name Calling

If your partner calls you a bad name, stop what you’re doing. Turn to them and say, “Do not ever call me that name again!” as forcefully as you can muster.

You do not have to explain why. You do not have to answer any of their questions or reply to any retorts. You do not have to explain why name-calling is a rotten practice. There is no justification for name-calling no matter what you did or didn’t do.

It’s likely that you’ll have to leave the area to avoid the tantrum the abuser will throw.

*Remember that these statements are to help you feel better and detach from your abuser’s antics. They do not guarantee that your abuser will stop abusing you, nor do they protect you from further abuse. You should fill out a safety plan so you know what you will do if things get out of hand.

Based on the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond by Patricia Evans, ISBN 1558503048, Adams Media, February 2003, and my experiences with verbal abuse.