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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68 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!

    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.

  10. JJ says:

    Great site. Thank you.
    My ex husband was verbally and emotionally abusive. I left him twenty years ago. During the divorce he came to the house with a gun. My dog saved my life that day.
    He was NEVER physically violent before that day. Don’t kid yourselves about sudden escalation.
    I remarried years later after being together for several years. I thought I’d been smart by taking time before getting married. I was wrong. I am finally recognizing that I’ve been emotionally and verbally abused since we moved into the same house five years ago. Even with couples therapy (second attempt, different therapist), it’s getting worse. Reality is uncomfortable but I have to accept it.
    My first husband killed himself recently. Something about that event brought me clarity about my current situation.
    Thank you for this site and the room for people to tell the truth. Sometimes seeing your own story is a powerful catalyst for change.

  11. cy zielinski says:

    My granddaughter attends a public college and did play basketball for her college last year as a freshman. There is a new coach this year and he went through the dorm and introduced himself. He then scheduled an open gym for the girls through one of the captains with a text message. In the text he told the captain to have my granddaughter were more appropriate shorts to the open gym. The relationship between m granddaughter and the coach has not been good since culminating when she asked him why he was so mean and disrespectful to her. His reply was basically I treat you like a whore because you present yourself as a whore. Needles to say she will not play for him. My question is, is this a form of abuse or harassment? And for the record she is a beautiful young lady both physically and as a person facing many of the issues young women face. She does not however believe in intimacy without commitment.

  12. Harassment is abuse, so the answer to your question is that the coach is committing both offenses.

  13. JJ says:

    My husband of 8 yrs is verbally abusive, he blows up at the slightest thing I say or do wrong in his mind. He is straight left brained, an engineer, I am right brained with left here and there. When he blows he likes to remind me I am stupid, can’t remember anything he has even called horrible names. When he blows he goes on and on like a pit bull attack, he repeats himself, brings up any and all old things I have done wrong (In his mind )he yells at the top of his lung and nothing can stop him, he just yells through me. People think he is so nice, I come from a complete different arena, no yelling and no name calling. I am to ashamed to tell family and friends from the sate I came from, they would hate him and want me to come home. I am 61 and have not worked for 9 years, so could not support myself. I also have 10 horses and 3 cats and live 2500 miles from my home town. I use to be independent and had very keen senses, I have lost those special gifts, I have lost myself. I HATE him. He has no remorse what so ever when he hurts me. He has NEVER ONCE said I am sorry for anything to me. When he is off shore and says I love you I just ignore him. We have not had sex for 2.5 yrs, he says because of his prostrate, he has no desire and it is not me, he says I am beautiful. But I came home and found him beating off to sluts on the internet and the yelled at me for coming into our office. Then he came in and told me it was my fault, I took to long to come. Well I should have said it is because you know nothing about foreplay. So he turned on me and then yelled. I am walking on eggs when he is home. My dr said I need to try and get stress free because my health is suffering, I could have a stoke or heart attack any time because of inflammation, well I never had health problems before living with him, after a yr he is impossible to live with. I even told him I hope he kills me from abuse and he will have to live with that forever.
    I am at the point when he introduces me as his wife, I want to say in name only and/ or I am his slave/ maid with out benefits. I want to hurt him in the worst way. I tell him in his tirades that I hate him, does not bother him. I am stuck. I tell him he is a sick $&#% he just says in a condescending voiceRIGHTTTT……..I have told he needs help but he thinks I am the nutty stupid one. I was a teacher for 20 yrs, I taught high school kids with behavioral problems, then I go and marry one. I am stuck and frustrated to no end.

  14. jane henson says:

    My sister is newly wed and married an ex army man and he is right now emotionally abusing her and in my opinion has always been a bit like this when she met him.This ones clever though because he is doing thre abusing yet he turns it around to make out he is the victim .She in turn thinks he has only changed since he had an op (one of many ) to his ankle which he has to use a walking stick but he has lots of issues from before he met her to do with his ex wife leaving him, plus he has issues over his parents divorcing and joined the army at 16 but he shows signs of Narcissistic traits and im worried for my sisters sanity because he has also did a psychology course (something he did but don’t know the reason) and he is using this when he texts so very clever and cunning .He isn’t clode toany family he has (siblings as parents both dead) even though his siblings love him (they are half siblings has his father had a few marriages and affairs)He wasn’t as bad when she met him 4 yrs ago but he was very insecure and not very trusting but he has gotten worse and he says the most nastiest disgusting things to my sis and demeans her and she doesn’t know when he is going to be like that but anything can trigger him ..its more complicated than this but its too long to type .All I know is she is an emotional wreck and he wont go to relate as he doesn’t think he has a problem but all that he does to her he will say its her doing it to him and he plays the victim..he is also very childish and wants her all to his self but isn’t very loving ,has ridiculed their sex life and blames her .I am here when she needs to talk but I can see he is trying to distance her from her family but she really does know he is abusive but she makes excuses that its since he had his op but no one should have to put up with that

  15. JeanXR says:

    My ex would NEVER have said any of those vile things! He saw The Vagina Monologues with a former girlfriend. He had lived in a hippie commune and knew all about feminism. He would never call his girlfriend a whore.

    Instead he would frequently ask me if I’d slept with this person or that person.

    He would never call me fat.

    Instead he asked me angrily if I was pregnant, and insisted on seeing my stomach.

    He would never call me ugly.

    Instead, he would criticise my clothes “just being honest/for your own good” till my body dysmorphia (which he knew about) came back in full flood.

    He would never criticise what I did in bed.

    Instead, he stopped doing anything at all in bed, because he knew I enjoyed sex.

    I think we need to understand that these things are just as harmful, and come from the same place, as the more obvious verbal abuse.

  16. caged butterf'y says:

    Verbal has led to physical. Nothing more chilling than sensing when a big strapping man is going to attack you. I’m not scared of anything, know how to defend myself and was brought up to believe no man raises a hand to a women. The man I met 20 years ago is not the same man. He’s been through stuff that you couldn’t write and has given up, drinks, takes drugs and rolls in looking for a fight because its always my fault, I frustrate him and I’m disgusting. This was the scenario last time. He came in said nothing, I made no eye contact, hoping he’d just go to bed, but then said he was going to take the kids to the shop. I told him no way, your wrecked and drunk. He stood in the doorway just screwing for about 5 minutes then said to my eldest “take the kids to the shop, I wanna talk to your mum” I knew I was for it. He went into the kitchen, I heard him sniff a line of coke, he came back in, lunged for me grabbed me by the arms and threw me at the front door, he came at me, pulled me out of the way, opened the door and tried to push me out. I got away and ran to the phone, dialled 999 and threw it behind the TV, I threw my self to the floor and just kicked and punched for my life, once he realised the police were on the phone, he backed off and I stayed on the phone with the operator, they came and he actually thought they would take his side, they wanted to arrest him but I just wanted him out of the house. I ended up with a black eyes, dislocated shoulder, kick and punch marks but I survived, he’s out, it was me that had all the power all the time. I feel for him and have been there for him through so much but enough, he’s still really angry mainly because I’m not in the gutter, I can keep a roof over my children’s heads and protect them. I’m not a count I’m not lazy, disgusting, a flirt, or a slag. Now he really has lost everything. Tough

  17. Carla Schwartz says:

    Christine, yes you’re being abused. He is not a child. You’re not a maid or his mother. He can get his own glass of water. You’re a partner and a wife who deserves respect and understanding. It sounds like you have an invisible illnesses. Take your husband to the doctor with you and maybe both of you should get support for this.

    John, Do what you love and you will be successful. I admire you. Your wife should be more supportive in your climb to your top.

    Just one person’s opinion :)

  18. Nervous Girl says:

    My husband is verbally abusive. He has such a short fuse, it’s ridiculous. He has hacked into my email many times because he doesn’t want me talking to anyone about our situation. He even read emails fro my mother BEFORE I even saw them. He goes on rants but can never take responsibility when he gets caught. It is MY fault for talking to her. He is such a lovely individual when we are around family or in public, no one would have any idea what I live with at home. I thought for a while that it was indeed me but then we went to couples therapy and within 30 seconds of him opening his mouth, the therapist called him out for his anger. Needless to say, 3 sessions in the therapy ended because the therapist was an “idiot”. I knew then it was not me. We were recently at a family gathering and after we left a few family members commented to my mom that my daughter & I were awfully quiet. That is when my mom told them a little of the situation we live with. The one thing I have a hard time with is GUILT! I know what I need to do for my daughter & I but the fear is paralyzing at times. I just cannot imagine my daughter having to spend time alone with him when he is like this. I could just cry. To top it off, we lost my dad to Cancer early 2014. It has been hard dealing with that and not having any emotional support at home.

    I really wish this sick feeling in my stomach would go away, but I think it is here to stay.

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