Mental Health Blogs

How Do I Stop the Verbal Abuse? (Part 1)

The answer to “How Do I Stop the Verbal Abuse?” is…drum roll, please…You Can’t! I wish that you could control how another person speaks and how they act. But you can’t.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever asked your verbally abusive husband or boyfriend to speak to you in a nicer way. Raise your hand if you’ve tearfully begged your verbally abusive wife to be kinder to you. Wow. That’s a lot of hands. Did it work? No. At least not forever. The next time your abuser felt turmoil, s/he used their anger or sly verbal manipulations to bring you down again.

Why Verbal Abusers Hurt You

Verbal abusers do what abusers do. They gain control and benefit from abusing you. By abusing you, they feel more in control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Your abuser knows that after verbally abusing you, you will react in predictable ways. You may cry, you may yell, but after awhile, you go back to them with an open heart, begging for them to love you. And every time you beg to be worthy of your abuser’s love, they get a self-esteem kick out of it.

Your desire for them to love you makes them feel important and in control. When you tell your abuser how you feel, or how you want things to be, or how much you love them, you give your abuser ammunition. By opening your heart to your abuser, s/he gains a little more insight into what makes you tick. When you open up, your abuser learns new ways to hurt you, and then files the information away for the next time s/he feels out of control and needs you to react in a predictable way so they can feel at peace and in control.

You can’t stop them from abusing you. They are too invested in your pitiful pleas for love to ever stop abusing you. Your reactions to their abuse makes you an invaluable asset; an asset they do not want to abandon because they do not know how to feel good about themselves without you feeling badly.

Abusers and Verbal Abuse: More Bad News

Here’s the next bit of bad news. You can’t teach them how to feel good about themselves in any “normal” way.

It doesn’t matter to them if you are the most successful psychologist in America whose focus is on healing families suffering from verbal abuse. It doesn’t matter to them how many other people think you are “right” or “knowledgable” or “deserve better treatment” than the crap your abuser dishes out. You cannot teach them to think differently because you are the target. The abuser’s self-proclaimed job is to make you less than who you are so they feel better about themselves. Period.target-practice

Verbal Abuse: You Are Only A Target

The only thing riflemen or bow hunters learn from the target they use for practice is how to hone their skill to hit the bullseye each and every time. The only thing an abuser can learn from their target is how to hit you more accurately the next time – how to hit you verbally, emotionally, mentally or physically with greater effect.

The only thing you can do to stop the verbal abuse is to remove yourself from it. You must at the very least become a moving target. You can do that in several different ways. Some of you are not ready to physically leave your abuser, and that is okay.

Honestly, you may never leave your abuser. You may choose to stay in your abusive relationship for any number of reasons; I stayed in my abusive marriage for just shy of 18 years. If you choose to stay - it is a choice, believe it or not – there are still things you can do to help preserve your sanity.

The next blogs I write will present options to you. For now, try to digest the fact that you cannot stop physical, mental, emotional or verbal abuse from happening to you. The only thing you can do is change how you react to it.

Reach Out – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 2)
Educate Yourself – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 3)
Self Reliance – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 4)
Develop an Exit Strategy – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 5)
How To Stop Verbal Abuse – Wrap-Up (Part 6)

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11 Responses to How Do I Stop the Verbal Abuse? (Part 1)

  1. RandomlyK says:

    Re-read that ladies (and men). She is soooooo right. It is freeing when you detatch & accept you cannot change them. And Kellie, have I got a story for you on this!!

  2. dawn says:

    im with a 61 yr old and im 43 he is nasty to everyone every day,makes my kids cry,he shouts at them and even my dog is scared of him,hes never hit me but always shouts at the children for silly things,he even threw my daughters clothes out bedroom window today because she didnt put them in her wardrobe,i told him hes a bully and his language wasnt much to be desired he just said he cudnt give a s….

  3. Peter Chamberlain says:

    A man, 73, I’ve only been married to my now 50 year old wife for going on 29 years, counting the just under three that she threw me out several years ago. The relationship has often been very good for both of us, but when it turns bad . . . !
    Disclosure, we’re both imperfect, I have chronic clinical depression and she has several mental health issues, including depression, PTSD, bipolar, dissociative identity (multiple personality), etc., all of which we knew very well before our personal relationship developed. Her father was feloniously abusive, to put it nicely, and her parents were both psychologically abusive but now that they’re dead she remembers her mother as a saint and must do and insists everything be done the way she did which she used to laugh at or otherwise recognize was wrong. Her mother had come around to appreciate me and told me that her daughter, my wife, tries to be dominant in everything, which is all too true, even where there is no disagreement or contest, especially when she is in this abusive mood/mode. I have never been able to see well enough to, among other vital things, drive, which, when on one of these abusive kicks like now, she uses as a weapon; the only very limited public transit here requires several days advance reservation. Sometimes her driving is fine, sometimes dangerous. I have only ever been goaded into physical violence once, awhile back, after she asked me to help with the computer but wouldn’t let me sit close so I could see it, knocked my computer off desk, and bit me. She called the police on me, but they know her from several emergency hospital runs, her having called and reported I had green snakes coming out of my ears and was dying, etc., and I was bleeding like a stuck hog from her bite when they arrived so they took me to a motel instead of to jail. When she’s like this, she lies, told our bank I had coerced her into signing power of attorney we had negotiated when she was herself, etc., constantly calls me a liar, etc., and pitches fits at store over list to which she had made no objections to which I had not given in.

    Her best (only) friend that she hasn’t completely run off, also friends with me, got us back together and things were cool awhile. My wife later complained that I had interfered with their relationship but the awful truth is the friend knows my wife, or some of her personalities, to be abusive, etc., very well. My wife ran her off the last time she had come for a scheduled three day visit. Wife’s brother in another state, who controls small amount of money from their mother’s estate in trust, has always hated me and tried to break us up, and, though he did not intervene to stop her severe abuse, she worships him even while saying he is much like her (abusive) late father. She abused and ran off our last, rare, good, home health aide, won’t let anybody come into the house and help with anything, and got both of us cut off from this and other valuable services

    Following a month in mental hospital, to which she asked to go but then blamed our home health aide and me, and a month in a nursing home, pushed by Adult Protective Services and Adult & Disability Services, from which I helped and enabled her to be discharged and come home, she has changed, some for better, e.g., has started cleaning house, doing dishes and laundry, etc. (which I had always done) for first time, but has, under guise of ‘assertiveness,” has become terribly verbally, etc., vicious. I already had one abusive mother whose verbal abuse, criticism, and condemnation for being imperfect and unwanted, more than the physical abuse (which included some abortive attempts at murder), drove me to attempt suicide starting before first grade, and set my kid brother up to kill himself later, and I hate this. My wife, of course, knows all the points of vulnerability and her logic is unfathomable otherwise, jumping from my taking 30 seconds too long to take the dog out after she asked me to (no intervening “accidents”) to my father having gone to jail when I was eleven, to her father and brother being better than me in bed (no reports about brother but we have no children), to my somehow having made her miss a doctor appointment at 11:00 she had never told me about after we got up at 6:00 and she, the only driver, totally controlled our day including dropping me off someplace I had asked to go earlier instead of the one I needed now. She has threatened to have me committed and I did get picked up on a mental health warrant after our doctor misunderstood something I had said, but I was released after ten days and a trial. Long-time psychiatrist upon whom she had become too dependent finally cut us off recently, leaving me one less point of contact, and I can’t talk to her therapist or new psychiatrist. Today she threatened to take me to mental hospital instead of home unless I agreed with her about literally everything in this world and the next.

    I’m at the end of my rope, sleeping days and getting up nights like now when hopefully she stays asleep because she reads everything I type, etc., but have nowhere to go, and we are left “on welfare” which I hate, leading Adult P:rotective Services to think in terms of confining us both (together) in a nursing home, which I do not need and would be fatal. I don’t think she can live on her own but I am ready to flee if I could find a place and the financial and other ways and means, but I’d miss the wonderful lady I married, who isn’t here right now. I’m a forcibly retired lawyer (long story separate from this) but have no idea where to turn for help at this point.

    Latest gambit, she has grabbed my birth certificate which I need to replace State ID Card when my wallet mysteriously disappeared, and refuses to return it, after it took months to get it replaced last time; I think she took that, too, along with some other papers which have stopped me from applying to resume practicing law (long story).

  4. Kali says:

    I am a 32 yr old woman with two kids i have a live in boyfriend and he verbally abuses me daily . he snaps very easily I sometimes stay silent for long periods and not talk to him cause i don’t want to upset him. When he gets angry he says the most demeaning things. I feel and believe this is how he is empowered when i hurt and cry. He always ask when he settles for me to talk about it but then he acts ups and goes back to being mean. Everything is quiet and fine if I am humble and accepting of his approach to our relationship.Which i can do what ever i want when i want alone.I wanna find away to empower myself so i can’t really take a stand.

  5. susan says:

    help!

  6. Kellie Holly says:

    You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or contact a mentor to talk to at Help With Domestic Abuse. One of the best things you can do is contact a domestic violence organization in your area (find them online or call the hotline). If you have family or friends, it’s time to come clean to them – ask for help. Reach out.

  7. greta says:

    I am in an interracial relationship demanding a high level of protocol and subjugation on my part.

    At any time I can say the wrong thing, about nothing particularly important. It can result in physical violence at the worst, or a tirade of verbal abuse that defies any sense of logic. I respond to defend myself, which really, only adds fuel to the fire.

  8. Veronica says:

    Im 29 Ive been abusive so much by my boyfriend he used to put the hands on me now what he does is abuse me verbally with none stop. He control me everything. I get upset all the time. I would like to stop all his abuse but I love him so much that when I try to make a stand is hard for me.

  9. laura says:

    My boyfriend verbally abuses me at least two or three times a month. It’s as if he can’t go for long periods without starting some sort of argument. He’s unemployed so not in a great place & often asks me for money which I usually give to him to stop arguments. He’s worse when he has nothing to smoke.

    I’ve noticed that he becomes most verbally abusive when I go out with friends as “he doesn’t know at I get up to”. Usually he ll create arguments on or the days around my birthday. He took me out to dinner for my birthday last year but refused to interact with me because he said I kept staring at his nose which he was self conscious bout!? He dreamed that I had cheated on him so he didn’t talk to me for a week.

    He has said a few times that maybe he is better on his own & he doesn’t see the point of his life which makes me feel bad for him & want to help him. There’s so much I want to do in life but know that if I went anywhere it Will cause a hail storm of abuse & name calling. I do not know what is stopping me leaving him. I do worry about what will happen to him without me there to help him. I have advised him several times to seek anger management but to no avail. He has never hit me, but he strangled me once when I responded to his question as to what my celebrity crush is. He punched a whole in the wall after I told his gran a conversation I had had about the education system with the janitor _He got annoyed I had talked to a male at work- he didn’t even ask the janitors name age etcetera before he got angry. But after he apologised & said he realised how stupid it was. We talked about how I was concerned that next time that wall could be my face & he laughed saying I was being silly.

    Yesterday I went to my friends house to celebrate the start of a two week break. He has said that he needs space from me because he’s bloody sick of me. I knew he might be annoyed that I went to my friends even though I said I was tired. I knew before telling him that he might become petulant, abusive but didn’t want to risk telling him after the event as that would make it worse. All I did was watch a film at my friends house. Of course I told my friends about it & they let me know it was not ok. I felt embarrassed but again worried how my boyfriend would cope without me. I turned my phone off & have not talked to him since. I was supposed to visit him next week but of course he told me not to bother. He’s done that before & been utterly surprised when I haven’t gone to see him so I know he doesn’t really mean it.

    I’m so sick of it all. How do I break up with him? Should I say something to his grab whom he lives with the reason for me not wanting to be with him? I’m tired of worrying what the consequences will be if I go out with friends or if talk to a man at work or on a night out. I shouldn’t have to lie about innocent conversations or work colleagues. Please advise!

  10. Larry Sherman says:

    Thank you for this article. and for not letting your past harden your heart. Blessings :-) Larry.

  11. Mary says:

    I don’t know what to do. I’ve been married for 13 years, we have two kids ages 11 and 7. When my husband gets verbally abusive, I want to leave and go to a friend’s house to get away from it, but I can’t leave my kids there. I’ve tried telling him to “stop it” and “that is unnecessary” but he tells me it’s my fault and that he doesn’t know how to help me with my issues.

    Example: Yesterday morning we were supposed to leave for a birthday party. I failed to set the alarm clock so we woke up late. Or so i thought. My husband had been up for 20 minutes hanging out with the kids. I asked him if he knew we had to leave, but he said whatever, it was okay if we were late. So I told him I wished he would be more aware of the time, to get out of the house for things like this and he BLEW UP at me. He told me I was lazy, that I should’ve set an alarm clock, that he doesn’t even want to go to this birthday party, that I’m attacking him, and that I’m acting bitchy. Then the entire day at the party, he was snippy and made snide comments to myself and my family. When we got home, he yelled at me some more, saying I should’ve helped more at the party instead of being lazy, and that he can’t help me when I have all these issues with him. I don’t even know how the situation gets all messed up like this half the time!

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