Mental Health Blogs

Examples of Verbal Abuse

I want to share some examples of verbal abuse because most aren’t easy to spot. Most verbally abusive statements are camouflaged, but some are blatantly obvious.

Verbal abuse underlies all other forms of abuse because words and tone can be easily manipulated to mean something other than what is said and “You misunderstood me!” is such an easy way out. Early on in my relationship, word games were key.

Here’s an early example of verbal abuse that I experienced. If he said something that hurt my feelings, I would tell him so. He would say, “I didn’t mean it that way, Kellie,” and he’d give me a hug. He would tell me that even his sergeants told him he needed to work on his tact. He promised to work on it. “What I really meant to say was…” SO much different than what had come out of his mouth that I had a difficult time rectifying the first statement to mean the second.

But, because he now hugged me and helped me feel secure and loved, I willingly went along with the lie. I became a participant in my abuse.I didn’t know at the time that my willingness to believe and forgive the man I loved would lead me to despair. Funny thing is that my naivete was one of the first character “faults” he berated me for, yet that same quality is the reason I withstood his verbal battery at all.

Examples of Verbal Abuse: Word Play and Denial

I believe most of the conversations I had with my husband in the beginning were tests to gauge how willing I would be to become his puppet. 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. brainwashed

The resulting confusion in the mind of the victim destabilizes the victim’s mind. Destabilization of my mind was crucial to my abusive husband – without implanting doubt in my mind about what I believed and perceived, there would be no way to control me.

He needed to know I would act, think and believe as he did so he could trust me. He couldn’t believe that my way of doing anything would have the same results as his way of doing them. “Trust” equals “control over” to my ex; he could never fully trust me because he couldn’t gain full control over me.

Types of Abusive Statements

The verbal abuser’s desire to gain control over his/her “better half” is so strong that the abuser will say anything to accomplish it.

The more the abuser can get you to doubt your own perceptions, the easier it is for them to trust you. As you fall down the tunnel of self-doubt, you reach for them, the one closest to you, for help. Your neediness is their cue that you are ripe for implanting their ideas into your mind, and they take every single opportunity to brainwash you into becoming them.

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?

Examples of Emotionally Abusive Statements

  • You’re so cute when you try to concentrate! Look at her, man, she’s trying to think.
  • I can’t believe I married such a stupid man.
  • Aw, come on, can’t you take a joke?
  • That isn’t at all what I meant. You’ll never understand how much I love you.

Sexually Abusive Statements

  • You should know how to please me by now.
  • I am thinking about taking a better lover.
  • Your body feels like spam.
  • Stop acting like such a whore. My friends are asking me if I let you behave that way when I’m around or if its just something you do on your own.

Financially Abusive Statements

  • You are going to nickel and dime us to death!
  • In what world does buying that make sense?
  • If you weren’t so lazy we’d have more money.
  • You handle the finances for now; I’ll step in when things go to hell.

Societally Abusive Statements

  • How dare you spread around our personal family 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!
  • What would the neighbors think about you if I told them our daughter’s hair wasn’t combed because her mother couldn’t make her sit still? My mother combed my sister’s hair every single day!

Threatening and Intimidating Statements

  • If you don’t train that dog I’m going to rub your nose in its mess.
  • I am more capable, smarter, and better educated than you. I will take our kids if you leave me.
  • This isn’t angry! You will KNOW when I’m ANGRY!
  • Ohhhh…I’d love to smack you right now!

Spiritually Abusive Statement

  • Keep your stupid beliefs to yourself; our children don’t need you to confuse them.
  • Women are to subjugate themselves to their husband in all ways.
  • 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!

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This entry was posted in Abusive Anger, Abusive Behaviors, Accusing, Anger, Confusion, Fear, Guilt, Hurt, Name Calling, Recognizing Abuse, Sadness, Shame and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Examples of Verbal Abuse

  1. John says:

    What about husbands being abused?
    I recently told my wife that I think it would be best for her to go get a job.
    For the past 6 months she has been a stay at home mom. I’ve seen her stress levels rise tremendously during that time. We have a 2 year old and one on the way.
    She has said in the past that she would not be able to be stay home for her own sanity.

    Granted, I know and understand 2 year olds can be a handful.
    She is doing a amazing job raising him, for that I’am greatful.

    Her response to getting a job was this:

    I think it’s best you get a real job

    Me: I have a real job

    Me: Don’t be rude

    Making 10 dollars an hr to babysit is not a real job
    No future!
    Really!

    Me: I’m in the police academy

    that doesn’t mean you’re a police officer

    Me: No… But means I’m working hard to get there.

    That’s why most ppl with sense who work at XXXX are women bringing in a second family invome, young people going through school who end up leaving when they’re
    finished or losers
    Who have no ambition

    Me: so I’m a loser?

    Idk; I’m not seeing a lot of ambition

    Me: I’m in the police academy working my butt off on the side

    If you were working hard you would have found a real job and left peace already

    ———————————————–

    That’s how I’m treated all the time. I work with the mentally challenge. I’m really individuals with high behaviors, autism, Down syndrome, tramatic brain injury, etc.
    I enjoy doing it. I have coached special Olympics and have been really involved with help youth. I know I need something better to support my family. That’s why I’m in the police academy. I’m almost done! This job allows me to work and be able to be in the police academy. I work 80 hours a week and spend as much time as I can with my family. My son is my world.

    My wife is always putting me down, attacking me, belittling me.
    I’m not the perfect person. I have not been the perfect person in my response to her. I have sworn and have called her names due to the lack of words to communicate, and being frustrated and hurt.

    I have never reached out for help, but I don’t know if I can take much more of this.

  2. Tortured says:

    I’m married to a verbal abuser. She berates, humiliates, distorts, and puts me down regularly. She thought it was funny one time — during a camping trip with friends — to punch me as hard as she could after I fell asleep. Family and friends, including her friends, have told me the behavior is awful but they encourage me to “hang in there.”

    Her abuse is much worse than anything on your list, some of which I’d classify more as abrasive than abusive (ex: concerns about overspending). I earn well into six figures but I’m a “loser, unsuccessful, and worthless.” I am “old, fat, and unattractive.” I am “stupid, an underachiever, and have no friends.” I “do nothing around the house,” a charge that’s leveled while I’m cooking, cleaning, and returning with groceries. Her time is at least “ten-times more valuable” than mine.

    She is a “stay at home mom” despite that our child is in elementary school and after-care, and I work full-time. I usually drop off and pick up our child, though sometimes I refuse when she tells people that I don’t, which she does frequently. She undermines me, openly and actively encouraging our child to disrespect me, by doing things like telling her I’m picking when I tell the child not to hold her arms outside the car because it’s dangerous. When I told the then six-year old she could not sit in the front seat, which is legal in our state tough discouraged, it was also “picking:” the child was openly told to ignore me. I spent the day in hell today because the parking lot at our local farmer’s market was full, which was my fault.

    I’m writing because I came across something useful though. She once secretly turned on a tape recorder, after hours of put-down’s — when I responded — to show me how awful I am. But I realized I could do the same, for entire arguments, starting at the beginning. That quickly built a crystal-clear record (after decking and berating me in front of friends and family it probably wasn’t necessary but always a good idea to keep a record), and helped put things into perspective. It also sometimes keeps her from escalating, though only sometimes. I’d strongly recommend those on the receiving end of verbal abuse keep a smartphone with a voice recorder, or a regular recorder around, and don’t hesitate to put it in plain sight: you’d be amazed what it does.

    Finally one clarification from your article: petty bickering isn’t necessarily verbal abuse and making a charge of verbal abuse can itself be verbally abusive if it’s used to demand compliance. That is, disagreeing with the abuser is not “abusive”. Some of your complaints, especially defining concerns about “nickel and dime spending,” sound like they may fall into that category. Couple need to constructively work through frustration if a relationship has a chance of surviving: that isn’t abuse. Making impossible demands, putting one another down, working to purposefully embarrass and/or humiliate or degredate, belittling, hurling demonstrably false accusations, involving third parties for the purpose of humiliating, holding hostage (threatening to fly off the handle unless the abused does as told), those are abuse. Most abusers know what they are; just last night she half jokingly told friends she is out of control, but they can’t or won’t stop. It’s their problem, but they make it ours, and our children. I strongly encourage anybody facing genuine verbal abuse to seek professional help.

  3. Yes, petty bickering in a healthy relationship does happen. Some of the statements could be taken as petty if it weren’t for the ammunition behind them. For example, “You’re nickle and dime-ing us to death!” in my relationship meant other things, too. It meant, “You are untrustworthy” “You lie to me about money” “You don’t know how to manage money” “You would never make it in the real world”- all statements that collectively let me know that I am not as responsible/capable/etc. as him (they diminish me). And of course, all of those statements were made both as clear and calm “constructive criticisms” and as hateful shouts. Repeatedly. Boiled down together, his statement of “You’re nickel and dime-ing us to death!” brought up ALL other connected statements and hit me as hard as all the others combined.

    It was not a petty statement in my relationship.

    I’m sure you’ve read how physical violence (grabbing, blocking, punching, burning, etc.) happens less frequently than verbal/emotional abuse even in relationships that have been previously violent. This is because once the punch has landed, it takes much less to keep the victim in line in the future. So, in an emotionally/verbally abusive relationship, the “punch” is the initial insult and the “pettiness” is the reminder of it.

    I hope I explained that well.

    I cannot define verbal abuse for you. You cannot define it for me, either. I know the intricacies of my relationship better than any outsider, so I am the one who knows “genuine” verbal abuse in my relationship. It is a bad idea to tell others that their situation IS NOT abusive because it doesn’t meet your standards of outward signs. It is in the emotions and mind of the individual to decide if they are abused. So when my ex told me that he was the one abused, I didn’t argue with him. If he wanted to throw that out there as bait, so be it. He could reel it back in because I wasn’t gonna bite.

  4. Pedro says:

    Hello I am in the same situation as John and Tortured
    She is sweet in public, even has a sweet voice, but at home She tells me that I am wasting oxigen and that I should kill myself, She is a stay home alone since the kids are at school and the food She prepares is terrible, and the lies, she makes them on the fly.

  5. saddestgirl says:

    My bf will make me cry, then say , ” You’re crying AGAIN?!”"What a p###y.”"Stop being such a baby.” I’ve tried really hard not to ask for comfort. It’s like I’m not allowed to cry.

  6. C B says:

    My boyfriend is verbally abusive. He tells me I’m white trash. He tells me I’m a cunt. He tells me that I’m not his equal and don’t have any right to any opinions in his house. He tells me that I have nothing to be proud of. He calls my daughter my “fuck” trophy. He says the most awful things.

    What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just leave him?

  7. worthless girl says:

    I get the money issue of how come we have money for the trip when we never have money. Today as a matter of fact I didn’t call him during my lunch. (I wanted quiet time). When I text him I was out of work he said “oh there you are” or if it takes me longer to get home what took you so long. He made me download an app so can see where I am all the time. I can’t go out with the girls. I really don’t have friends. I go to work and home. I feel like I’m in prison. I have called him a warden. I don’t talk to him about work because he doesn’t care. I have asked for a divorce but he said no. I feel trapped. I used to go to a therapist but he would ask me why I still go. You that bad, what’s wrong with you. I tell him it is because of you. I ask him to go with me and he wouldn’t. I am miserable and don’t know what to do. I have had to get rid of friends on Facebook because he didn’t like them because of there comments. I can’t talk to anyone on the phone or by txt message because he needs to know what they are saying. The kids see it all and don’t like how he treats me. One is a teen the other two are adults. I can’t take to my male classmates from high school because they are men. Really I haven’t seen them in years. If I could go back in time I wouldn’t have married him. Oh and I have been going to college and he gives me a hard time about me doing my homework and makes remarks about bettering myself.

  8. Christine says:

    I’ve been having a really hard time with my husband lately and I think I’m being abused, but like you were talking about, I’m really confused. I have a physical illness that limits the amount of walking that I can do and it causes me a great deal of pain at times. My husband told me this week that my illness was making his life bad. We aren’t able to spend very much time together, which is mainly due to the fact that he refuses to do anything with me that I am able to. We either have to walk around the entire city or “I can just stay home”. When I have painful flare ups he doesn’t even look up from what he’s doing, he just gets angry ,throws up his hands and shouts me “what!” in an agitated voice.

    My husband tells me what I should do for the day before he leaves for work, and if I am not able to get all of it accomplished, or accomplished to his specifications, he gets very angry when he comes home. He greets me with a mumbled hello and then circles the house looking for something out of place. I am terrified to leave the house looking like I live in it.

    If I do something wrong, he likes to ask me if I’m stupid. Here are two examples from this week: I brought what I thought was his water from the kitchen to his bedside. I do this every night because he expects it. He had been cooking and had put some sugar water in a glass, and this is what I brought him not knowing that there was sugar in it. He said, “are you stupid? have you ever seen me drink water?” without explaining anything. I kept asking “what?” “why?” and he just kept saying “are you stupid?”. I got really upset and told him that I don’t like it when he asks if I’m stupid, I told him it’s an unnecessary question. He told me I was understanding it wrong. How can that question be taken as anything other than a belittlement of my intelligence for a simple, innocent mistake? This is the first example. The second one happened today. He called me this morning, but the connection was bad. All I heard was “call the post office,” which I did. When I later called him back for more clarification, he said “were you drunk? are you stupid? I just told you to get the mail”. This seriously pissed me off. I don’t drink and he knows that, much less at 11 in the morning.

    We were doing really well for a few weeks and this started up. It starts up, and then he back off and then it all starts up again. I’m angry, frustrated, hurt and confused. Am I being abused?

  9. Andrea says:

    I think my sister is being very verbally abusive to her husband. She yells and screams at him constantly, flies off the handle at the smallest “infraction.” She calls him a moron, says she can’t believe she’s married to him, that he’s worthless and does nothing for them, and the slightest thing can set her off. Like if he forgets to make their kids a smoothie or iron his clothes the night before something important the next day. I’m getting really tired of her calling me to do nothing but complain about him. She can be really horrible to us too. If my life isn’t going exactly as she thinks it should be, then I have a problem and I should fix it and live like she does. I’m worried about her kids living with this, and her husband. She threatens to leave him and then he gets upset and artificially modifies his behavior for awhile to placate her, but it never lasts long. I was in a very bad physically, verbally, and financially abusive marriage that I finally left, so I think I know how her husband feels. She is very controlling. She doesn’t think he should do anything he enjoys, like playing golf once a month with his father, because his time would be better spent volunteering, being with the family, etc. She rips on anyone else she knows that doesn’t live the perfect life she does, and HER being tired or HER having to work somehow is far more extreme than anyone else’s could be. If I were to tell her something she didn’t want to hear, she would hang up on me and not speak to me for a long time, and come up with a complete list of my personal faults and failings as a reason to discount anything I say. I’ve told her therapy would be best for both of them, and she used to say no to that, but recently said she’d try it, but hasn’t yet.

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