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Examples of Verbal Abuse Early In A Relationship

Many examples of verbal abuse aren’t easy to pinpoint, especially in the beginning of a relationship. Most verbally abusive statements are camouflaged by tone of voice, choice of words, body language, the abuser insisting “it’s for your own good” and other such decoys. Even so, examples of verbal abuse are easy to pick out once you have the ear for them.

Examples of Verbal Abuse: You Misunderstood Me!

Examples of verbal abuse aren’t easy to pinpoint, especially in the beginning of a relationship. If you're wondering if you're crazy, it's time to read this.Verbal abuse underlies all other forms of abuse because words and tone can be easily manipulated to mean something other than what is said. “You misunderstood me!” is an easy way out of taking responsibility for intentionally wounding someone. Early in relationships, it is very possible that we could misunderstand a person’s intention. We think “my bad” and move along.

For example, early in my marriage, when my husband said something that hurt my feelings, I told him so. His response? “I didn’t mean it that way, Kellie.” Then he would give me a hug. He said that even his sergeants told him he needed to work on his tact. Following the excuse was, “What I really meant to say was…”

But what he really meant to say was so much different than what had come out of his mouth that I had a difficult time twisting his first statement to mean the second.

But, because he hugged me and spoke in a tone that helped me feel secure and loved, I went along with the lie. I didn’t know at the time that my willingness to believe and forgive the man I loved would lead to despair.

Examples of Verbal Abuse: Word Play and Denial

Word play and denial of wrong-doing are two sides of the same coin. It doesn’t matter how the coin-toss lands because both sides result in confusion for the victim of verbal abuse.

I consider word play to happen when the language used could mean two different things. For example, saying “You’re such a wonderful wife!” with a smile and a hug means that you are a wonderful wife. But rolling eyes while saying the same thing means something completely different. It means, “I will tolerate you because we’re married.”

Denial comes into play when you question the abuser’s eye rolling. You may say, “Hey, I saw you roll your eyes! What are you really saying?” But the abuser’s answer is “I didn’t roll my eyes! You are a wonderful wife!” It doesn’t matter what you say, the abuser sticks to the lie that no eyes were rolled in the telling of your wonderfulness.

Word play and denial, given the circumstances of I love you and time, result in the victim becoming really confused. The victim knows what she saw and heard. She knows the abuser is lying. However, the victim tends to blow off the behavior, choosing to make an excuse for why the abuser behaves that way instead of calling in the chips and hitting the road.

As a related side note, the abuser tends to up the ante when he or she believes the victim is stuck in the relationship. Examples of being stuck include pregnancy, engagement, marriage, sleeping together or whatever the abuser associates with owning the victim. Most likely, the victim agrees that he or she is stuck in the relationship. However, because up to that point the victim has not been abused (enough), stuck isn’t the word the victim uses.

Unfortunately, over time, confusion turns into destabilization of the victim’s mind. She starts to wonder if she’s really hearing and seeing what she thinks she hears and sees. This destabilization is the in the abuser needs. Destabilization of your mind amounts to brainwashing.

Destabilization of the mind is crucial to the ability to control anyone. The abuser must implant doubt in the victim’s mind concerning what he or she believes and perceives. Without self-doubt, there is no way to control the victim.

Examples of Verbal Abuse You May Recognize

Below are examples of verbal abuse, statements verbally abusive men and women make. Do you recognize any of these?

Emotionally Abusive Statements

  • You’re so cute when you try to concentrate! Look at you trying to think.
  • I can’t believe I love a stupid jerk.
  • Aw, come on, can’t you take a joke?

Sexually Abusive Statements

  • You should know how to please me by now.
  • I hoped you were less experienced.
  • Stop acting like a whore.

Financially Abusive Statements

  • You are going to nickel and dime me to death!
  • In what world does buying that make sense?
  • Fine. You handle your finances. Let me know when things go to hell.

Societally Abusive Statements

  • How dare you spread around our private business!
  • Let me do the talking; people listen to men.
  • You took a vow in front of God and everybody and I expect you to honor it!

Threatening and Intimidating Statements

  • If you don’t train that dog I’m going to rub your nose in its mess.
  • I will take our kids if you leave me.
  • You’re scared?! This isn’t angry! You will KNOW when I’m ANGRY!

Spiritually Abusive Statement

  • Keep your stupid beliefs to yourself.
  • God will find a way to get you back, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
  • I can feel myself being pulled into hell just listening to your nonsense!

How Spotting Examples of Verbal Abuse Early Can Help

When verbal abuse begins, you may be able to nip it in the bud if

  1. your partner admits they have a problem AND
  2. he or she acts on that statement by going to individual therapy AND
  3. you hear and sense steady improvement.

You would benefit from seeing your own counselor during this process. Verbal abuse can sneak in the back door without you realizing it. A therapist will help you keep your mind clear.

But if your partner blames you for their words and actions, then the likelihood that he or she will go back to being the sweet person you fell in love with are slim to none.

Lips and tongues lie. But actions never do. No matter what words are spoken, actions betray the truth of everyone’s heart. ― Sherrilyn Kenyon

You can also find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.

115 thoughts on “Examples of Verbal Abuse Early In A Relationship”

  1. I lived with my husband for 16 years and endured verbal abuse for most of that time. I had never been around that sort of thing growing up, but I did have a “people pleasing” personality. I always thought, because he told me so many times, that everything was my fault.

    Needless to say, I got out. Sixteen years is too long to have to put up with abuse. Words can and do hurt just as much or more than fists. They just don’t leave any marks.

    I started my own site at newyoucity.com to talk about mental illness which can come from being in any type of abusive relationship.

  2. It’s difficult to explain to people that there is indeed a brainwashing that takes place in these relationships. I didn’t see it at the time, of course, but here, a year and a half out of it, I see the step by step process my husband led me through to become his little trophy. You are so right in the issue of trust and that the abuser trusts only that which he can control.

    Thank you for this.

  3. I am a 37 year old woman in a verbal and mental abusive relationship. I find it hard to leave my boyfriend because he can be so sweet one minute then the second I.say or do something not to his standards he yells or belittle me in front of his friends or family.

  4. Im 12 and im being verbaly abuased by my dad. Any sugjestions on how i showed stop it from happening any longer? ( it started when i was 4.)

  5. Also kellie when i ask him to stop he gets louder and meaner and then i run into my run and hide then he calls me a “little f***en crybaby who should just leave the house and never come back but first pay the rent.”

    1. Hailey, your age makes it difficult to protect yourself against your dad’s abuse alone. You are a child, a minor, and this puts you in a very different situation from a grown-up.

      Your dad acts like my husband did when I asked him to stop. My husband would yell louder and make fun of me for saying that his words hurt. Like you, I left the room as he yelled mean things. Would you be surprised to know that walking (or running) away from the abuser is a good strategy to use? First, you’re standing up for yourself when you ask him to stop. Secondly, you’re not listening to his nonsense when you leave the room.

      You are not “hiding” like a scared little kitten when you go to your room. You are protecting yourself. Do you have an mp3 player or something with headphones? When you go to your room, put them on and listen to something uplifting. You could also call a friend to talk about anything you want. You can call a hotline (like Love is Respect’s at 1-866-331-9474)

      Does your dad allow you to leave the house without him? You could sit on your front porch or take a walk. The up side to going outside of the house is that there may be neighbors who can see you there. Abusers do not like for other people to see them be mean.

      It is a good idea to learn the types of verbal abuse so you know them when you hear them. When you can recognize a type of abuse, it makes it less hurtful. You can say to yourself, “Oh, that’s my dad using name-calling to hurt me,” or “Now dad is trying to make me feel small.”

      For example, in the statement you gave as an example, your dad uses profanity and calls you a mean name. Although he says you are a crybaby, you are not. You are reacting to his abuse, abuse hurts, and it causes tears. Crybabies cry over nothing. This is not you.

      Secondly, when he says you should leave the house, he is actually reminding you that you cannot leave the house. You are a child, not a grown-up. He knows you’re stuck. In abuse terms, he knows you are “isolated” and have no one to turn to. When we’re isolated, we feel helpless. Your father wants you to feel helpless. Helpless people are easier to abuse.

      Thirdly, fathers also know how important they are to their children. No matter what, you will always be emotionally connected to your dad. He abuses that connection by telling you to leave and never come back. That could be the most hurtful thing – thinking your father doesn’t want you.

      And finally, he knows you cannot pay the rent. In a way, he is telling you that “you have it good” because he is there to take care of bills and keep a roof over your head. He wants you to believe that what he says and does is normal, and you should put up with it because of all the things he provides for you. “Normal” people do not emotionally hurt the people they love on purpose, no matter what favors they do or don’t do.

      All of those things are tactics abusers use to keep their “victims” scared, sad, and helpless. When you know that is what your dad is trying to do to you, it may make you mad. If so, you can use that anger to block him out when he gets this way. Sit there and be in his sight if leaving is impossible, but don’t let his words tell you who you are, what you’re thinking, or what you’re doing.

      On my site, there is a list of types of verbal abuse. Go through those types of abuse or download the worksheet and begin to see exactly what your father is doing. This will be your first step in getting stronger, and help you understand that the abuse isn’t your fault.

  6. Hey kellie i just want to know something, are you a countcler because the information your giving sounds exactly the info my councler gives me. Im just curious.

  7. Dear Kellie Hollie,

    While I was working on a definition essay for one of my courses, i came upon your blog, and it touched mem that I wasn’t alone. Ever since, my parents divorced back in 2004, I was a victim of abuse, mostly verbal abuse, like being called a b***ch, and being told i can never accomplish anything because im worthless to others, and its the reason I couldn’t keep my job at Tim Hortons. And now im 19 years old, and living with my dad and stepmom, i feel like im being treated like a criminal, i cant get away with anything, i do my best, yet, its not good enough. Last night, my dad told, if i “goof up” one more time, he will bring me to therapy, or if not, he will give me two weeks to find a place to live, and move out. Everyday, i take just a second to think if i am really worth it? And what my meaning of life is about?

    1. Julie, take him up on the therapy. Agree to go. He doesn’t get to tell the therapist what to talk with you about. He can suggest, and he can ask, but your therapy session stays between you and the therapist. You can talk to the therapist about how to deal with your dad, plan for your future, and decide what your meaning for living could be. Therapy is much better than moving out before you can stay gone for good, and it will help YOU even if he thinks it will benefit him.

      A therapist can help you get your life together, making it possible for you to move out on your own terms and when you are ready.

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