Walk Away From Verbal Abuse

Escaping verbal abuse temporarily helps ease the trauma of it. Unfortunately, the abuser doesn’t like it when you do not stand there and listen to the abusive rant, so “walking away” can seem like the absolutely worst option at the time of attack, yet walking away is probably the best option.

Prerequisite to this experiment:

angelMake an extra house and car key. Always have them in your pocket or on a chain around your neck. (You could wrap tape around the heads of the keys to keep them from jingling under your blouse if you choose to wear them around your neck. That way, he won’t hear them and discover your secret.)

Keep your purse by the door that is closest to where you park your car. If you do not have a car, place your purse by the door that most quickly gets you into view of your neighbors so you can walk to someone’s house. If you don’t have a car or neighbors, then keep your cell phone on you at all times and either “walk away” by going outside or by going into a room with a working window and locking the door. (Don’t go to the bathroom or garage or any room that has usable weapons or multiple hard surfaces. Right now, the attack is verbal, but it could escalate to physical violence and you don’t want to make hurting you easy for your abuser.)

Have your notebook in the place you plan to escape to. If you’re going to a friend’s, store it there. If you’re going to your car, keep it hidden there. If you’re escaping to your bedroom, …

NOTE: You know your abuser. If you fear physical attack by trying the following tips, then you are in a very serious position.  Carefully consider your own safety action plan. The Army has a good one; find a modified version of  their safety plan at Verbal Abuse Journals.

The key to remembering to leave the fighting arena is pre-planning. You can somewhat figure out when an attack is going to occur if you read the signs in your abuser’s behavior. Being able to do that will take a bit of observation, willing detachment, and note-taking.


Pay attention to your body’s anxiety signals as a forewarning. When you feel your heart beating and you’re trying to pretend like everything is normal, that is your first sign that an attack is imminent. Make a mental note of the time, and remind yourself to look at the time again when your abusers begins the abuse session. (Make sure you write how long it took from “symptoms felt to abuse” in your notebook later.) Ultimately, the goal is to find something else to do in a different location when the symptoms begin, but you’ll want to prove to yourself that you can predict the violence because you’ve probably been told that you can’t trust yourself.

When your abuser begins the attack, what is their facial expression? What are they doing with their hands? Do they call to you to go to them, come to you, or just start making a fuss to which you respond in hopes of calming before it gets too bad? Write down as much information as you can about his behaviors and expressions. When you’ve seen enough, it is time to walk away.

You can simply walk away without saying anything, or you can state one of your boundaries that the abuser has busted through. Say it once, calmly, then begin initiating your escape plan.

Notice that no where in the observation portion do you listen to the nonsense.

Willing Detachment

At this point you may be calm or you may be crying. You may be feeling all sorts of things because even though you “weren’t listening” you did hear. (How can we not?) Now is not the time to feel these emotions. You can feel them in a few minutes when you’re at a safer place.

Note: If your escape place is your bedroom (with a working window and a lockable door), have an mp3 player or something in there to help you refocus from the abuser who may stand outside your door to continue his rant.


When you are in your safe place, pull out your notebook and start writing down the facts. Recalling the facts will help you to further detach. Although writing them down may not make you “feel” better immediately, after doing it you will likely feel differently about what was said to you and how he acted. Over time, you will see that the “spontaneous” attacks seem more like “controlled terrorism” in which your abuser picks the time and place. What the abuser does is no accident, what s/he says is predictable, and the accusations s/he lays on you are nonsense.

When I was married, I was naively in denial that my husband would physically attack me (again). I would pull out my notebook and start writing in it during an attack in front of him. I don’t recommend doing that. Your notebook should be sacred and private. If you’ve never hidden anything before, now is the time to get creative.

Your notebook serves two empowering purposes. One, it helps you to detach from the pain of a verbal assault soon after experiencing it. Two, it provides you a record of “what happened” no matter how long it is between attacks. There is a tendency to “think we’re crazy” and deny to ourselves the hurtful instances we’ve experienced with our abusers. Your notebook will not allow you to fall prey to your own mind.

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56 Responses to Walk Away From Verbal Abuse

  1. Bertha Solorio says:

    I BEEN READING AND TRYING TO FIND HELP FOR ME. I been marry for about 20+ years and i been in abusive relationship, which i never said anything to nobody but the last couple of years it got worst there wad a point that every time we argue he’ll kick me out name calling put me down cause of my weight and then he’ll said i gross him out. No intimacy no communication controlling manupalating and verbal emotional abuse with me it got to a point where i snap and i stabbed him in the i got charged w DV with deadly weapon. My story its long but i neef help with how do i explain the judge that he plays mind games with me

  2. Craig says:

    I have been married for just over 5yrs and my wife and my relationship is getting worse and I hate to say it but I’m afraid of her. She blows up at any little thing and blames me for her words of hatred. She tells me constantly that she wants me out of her house and that she hates me. I do not think there is anything I have not heard from her and I fear that if I leave she will not let me back in. She threatens calling the police if I come back and she says she will make up a lie for them to tell me to leave. She degrades my entire family and says we are all crazy and f’d up. I do not feel safe but also fear that I will never get my things if I leave. Agh what to do.

  3. Kinder says:

    I have been told over and over my husband is verbally abusive. But I am so afraid to leave because I dont want to lose my kids. He has run off all my friends and family and his has the only income. I have done everything I can think of to try to make him happy. I hate him I hate myself. I feel so trapped. We have been together 4 years married for 2. He yells, he screams , he calls me horrible names. He threatens and consoles when I try to leave. And as soon as I get home he tears me apart for hours and hours. Till I am so tired. I just can’t do it any more

  4. Chelsea says:

    Thanks for the good and practical advice. Everyone always says, leave and call the cops, or something but those things don’t actually help the real situation.

    I have recently started walking out the door to escape the constant ranting and berating, but he does it late at night and I am in my PJ’s in the park cos I have nowhere to go. Once I hid in a neighbor’s yard and I watched him walk around the street looking for me. At the time I thought he was going to catch me and kill me. Finally when he drove away I ran back to the house and said I was safe and to leave me alone. He said he was frantically looking for me cos he was scared and he was sorry etc etc…. I actually believed him and was so sorry I made him worry. What an idiot I am.

    Anyway, the abuse continues but removing myself from the situation is quite empowering, 5 years ago I would have taken the abuse and believed every word and then tried to fix my faults only to find out there were so many other things wrong with me that were hurting him.

    Please be warned, there is a very strong chance this will turn to physical violence. Warning signs I have observed: Throwing small things at you (often turns to larger things), smashing things around you like doors, hurting himself and getting straight up in your face.

    If you think he is going to be physical, go and lay down in bed or on the couch, it puts you in a submissive position. Don’t try to fight!!! Do not try to run unless you KNOW you can get to safety before he catches you – Adrenalin can active something primal and he may beat you even if he wasn’t planning to.

  5. Disgusted says:

    I am so sick of my husband. What a mistake I made marrying him. He completely lied to me about who he is and pretends he’s Christian and blames everyone else for his bad behavior. I’ve come to realize that he is extremely mentally ill and lacks insight into the fact that he’s the problem. He calls me horrible names constantly, threatens me, threatens others, threatens to harm himself, steals my things to use them against me for blackmail so I’m forced to apologize after he calls me names to get my things back, he tells me that I’m too old and worn out to meet someone new, he’s called my work multiple times, stalked me and caused scenes in public, punched me in the arm, taken off in the car with me not even fully out of it yet, he insults me right when I wake up and when I’m laying down to sleep and shuts off my phone if I talk to family or friends, put spy apps on my phone, hides money from me but is happy to spend mine, and refuses to get a job so he can try to collect alimony off of me since he knows he’s pushing me over the edge and I want a divorce. I’m the old west, people like this would have just been shot since they have the kind of personality no one likes. Nowadays I have to deal with bs until I can get safely and smartly out. Women get strong!

  6. Shellwynn says:

    I have been married for 40 years this year. My husband has always been a great provider and a loving companion until the last 4 years when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and became impotent. Since then he has become a verbal monster. constantly accusing me of being a “b—-” I’m loud and opinionated and drink too much. as a matter of fact if I say or do anything to disagree with him he accuses me of being an an alcoholic. He has come close to being physically violent but I have stopped him by saying I’ll tell our daughter. I’m afraid of what is coming next yet our finances are controlled by him and her threatens to screw everything up to hurt me so I can never function on my own…what do I do? This is the man I married and have loved for most of my life.

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