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.

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122 Responses to Examples of Verbal Abuse Early In A Relationship

  1. Sad says:

    This is so sad – you can keep scrolling and scrolling reading all the hurt! So many good people who love that are with the wrong ones and it wrecks it for the rest!

  2. cheryl says:

    …Buzz off…

    FROM MODERATOR: I’m sorry to delete so much of your comment. You’re obviously angry. As I cannot allow verbal abuse on an anti-verbal abuse blog, I had to edit this. What you said may be true, but it’s just not appropriate for this blog.

    I understand the desire to check up on your ex to see what he’s posting and whatnot. However, the best thing you can do is ignore him everywhere except in court.

  3. Raul Ramos says:

    Hard to say it, I’m being verbally abused. I’m 48, married for two years. Her words leaves deep wounds. I wouldn’t care if I didn’t loved her; but I do. Breaking up is not an option to me.

  4. Robynlas says:

    I agree with you. I would add though that I have been to many counselors over the years and none of them got that I was in an abusive relationship until my last one (after having been in this relationship over 30 years) who diagnosed me with severe C-PTSD, and in figuring out why I had that issue I was finally able to see what had been going on for years and years. Counselors are not perfect, they have their own agendas often, and some prefer to be willfully blind to certain things (like sexual abuse within a marriage). The best thing you can do is what this says, let actions speak louder than words, and believe in yourself… if it feels off, abusive, demeaning, then it probably is. “You misheard me”, or “I didn’t mean it that way”, or “why do you always have to make a big deal out of nothing?”, were common things I heard, as well as making up our history in ways that made him look good and not admit to any past abuses. It’ll kill you, or you’ll kill yourself, if you stay in abusive relationships. Emotional/psychological abuse is far worse than physical abuse in my opinion, because it’s harder to KNOW you’re in an abusive relationship, and it’s so much harder to heal those psychological kinds of damages. If you’re not feeling respected and safe in your relationship, you should be doing some serious thinking about what’s going on, and questioning the core beliefs that you think are written in stone (like they are honest, or they love you and would never hurt you on purpose, etc.). Thanks for the article, it’s well written and good information.

  5. Kelly says:

    even though i was only in the relationship for around a year, and it’s now been almost five months since i’ve cut off ties with him, I still get memories of him popping up, and i’m afraid to even have to go near or pass by where he lives, let alone even wear the clothes that i did when i was with him. Sometimes I still have nightmares, but I wish that it would disappear. I don’t know how to feel better completely again. Even though I am seeing a counselor and met a great new guy, I feel like I can’t help but feel very suspicious about the new guy no matter how nice he is, and my counselor isn’t really helpful either… My life goes on regularly, but i wish it would go away forever…

  6. Joni says:

    A relationship that started out good & had potential for better turned bad after one weekend visit. I don’t really know what I did to bring on the verbal abuse. It started with little things he said during conversations that hurt my feelings. I told him he hurt my feelings but my mistake was not repeating what he said when he asked. That was because he said tell me how I hurt your feelings so I can keep doing it. My immediate thought was that he was only joking when he responded with that. When we went out to the first social outing…after an incident involving one of the attendees that could have resulted in bodily injury to me…I commented quietly to him about the near injury & his response implied that I was not to behave in a manner that would show I was lower class. I was insulted but only told him he did & his response was the same. This time I didn’t laugh. The following evening after my complaint about a dirty glass I was told I didn’t have any class & that’s why he don’t date women like me, that he made a mistake trying to date me & we were leaving. Needless to say I felt hurt, insulted, disrespected enough to bring me to tears. After a silent drive for nearly 20 minutes, he asked would I like to stop for a bite to eat which I politely refused. As I changed my clothes I packed all my belongings & dressed for bed. He didn’t offer an apology & I didn’t comment on the incident. I slept quietly on one side of the bed that night & at the break of dawn I quietly dressed, then woke him to lock his door…AND said thank you. We have not spoke or had any form of communication since. As I talked to my family about the visit & how wounded and heavy my heart felt to know he had such a low perception of my character/behavior they tried to comfort me. As they did the words abusive, verbal assault, amongst other words were used to describe the situation. It took days for me to accept that his assessment of me was an attempt to diminish my self esteem, self confidence to convince me of his superiority over me. I think he has done this to other women as I replay conversations we have had about relationships. Still not totally convinced he was verbally abusive, I googled the definition and read several of the articles. I’m glad I was strong enough to walk away although he’s very popular well groomed well known & exceptionally charming. I now feel that everything about him is attractive on the outside & initially says all the right things he is unable to maintain a healthy relationship because he has low self confidence & self esteem which would explain why he needed to crush mine. I’m not a psychologist but there is something inside him that needs professional attention. I needed to tell this story because to some the way he talked to me may seem trivial but trust me…that feeling the came over me & pain that my heart felt was NOT trivial. We have many mutual friends and acquaintances that I will never tell what occurred & I think I will be okay with whatever he wants to say occurred. I will admit my disappointment with the outcome…I really enjoyed the seduction.

  7. jasmine says:

    This post and the following comments are shocking and revealing for me at the same time. I’ve been in relationship with this guy for over a year now and being in a conservative family, I couldn’t go out with him or spend time with him a lot. Our major communication was through phone accompanied with some occasional meetings.
    He used to belittle me by saying that I am not sexy or curvy and if i said that his comment hurt me, he’d either say that he didn’t mean it that way or he’d blame me for misunderstanding his ‘earnest and true’ opinion. I am a person with a lot of family problems( my father being an abuser himself) and whenever I’d discuss them with him, he’d either remain silent or pass uninterested comments. If I ask a question about them or ask an elaboration of his uninterested comments, he’d burst out on me. He’d then say that I have no capability of dealing with things or letting past go and say that my worries are just silly.
    It’s like that on every instance of sharing my insecurities with him. It’s been very distressing for me, but I had to always hold onto this thing: His love to me. It was almost as if I didn’t love him even. But then, no matter how much I felt sad or let down, I could never accept that it was by his doing, because he always made it look like my fault and he was always very soft-spoken and loving. I used to mull over my mistakes and my ‘wrong’ judgments again and again for I used to sincerely believe that it was all my fault( my belief was that I was sad or distressed out of proportion or I said an inappropriate thing when he was tired or sleepy that he shouted at me).
    But when I figured it out that it was he who was all being mean to me I told it to him. It ended up in escalated fights and arguments but then one day, finally he understood. So I told him that he must do something to improve or change. He promised that he will, because, of course he loved me, but then nothing happened. Whatever suggestions I made, how much ever I supported him, he wasn’t willing to change. Now when we fought, he’d say, “you are not giving me time. I am trying so hard but these recurring fights bug me.” What did he try? Nothing really though. He claimed that he is trying so hard to pass his exams and get on with a job( that he is so lazy to do that as well) now how can he do all the (silly) things to make me happy?
    So I broke up with him. Until today, I was so depressed, not for having to let him go but by his disheartening words that still clamour in my mind. I never knew I was being verbally abused, I still can’t believe it. But it is relieving to know that it isn’t my fault that we broke up because I was, until now, feeling that it was my insecurities and worries that broke our ties; he, being such a kind and loving person, couldn’t possibly hurt me!!
    I guess it’s important that we respect ourselves and care ourselves. Others are going to mistreat us but if we are unsure of ourselves we are going to fall right into their traps. And to the likes of me who have (once again) lost our self- worth, I guess we should know that our worries our little things aren’t silly or unimportant. Those tiny things- pleasures and worries, make us who we are! Never let anyone change that…

  8. Ivana says:

    Thanks for a great article. My 2 yr relationship is still a question mark to me.

    He is a wonderful guy one moment and the next moment he turns into an a…hole. I find myself being scared to ask questions as he often puts me down. When I mention this to him he says it’s all in my head.

    Recently I found out that he’s been in touch with his ex-girlfriend- their conversations were beyond friendship and were reminiscing their romantic moments….and when I approached him about it he was very apologetic, felt sorry and that he is aware that wasn’t good or mature thing to do. I believe it was a genuine apology and regret. However, the next time I mention it to him along the lines “are you guys still in touch?,” he said “we already talked about this there’s nothing there. Why are you so insecure?”

    Often he alludes that I have bad memory: “Remember what I told you last summer about that?” And when I honestly say that I don’t, he accuses me of not caring.

    I have been trying to find out whether this is verbal abuse or something else so if you can point me in the right direction that will be wonderful.

    Thanks for a great article.

  9. Olivia Burns says:

    My man said to me while we were seking your pussy is so big my Dickerson want stay in it. It hurt my fillings and I why did you say that to me, he said what did I say. I told him what he said and he said I didn’t say that but if I did say that I didn’t mean it, he said it was a joke.

  10. Sylvia says:

    My boyfriend is verbally abuse to me … I think psychological abuse is the worst kind, it leaves long lasting scars.. it questions your abilities, your perceptions of how you view the world and your sanity.. I had a meltdown and told him to leave and he left.. nothing I did was ever enough, I didn’t do things right, he was always mad at me, if I asked questions he’d get mad and even say they’re stupid questions; I love him but it’s negatively affecting my life.. I’ve been in abusive relationships before, I always end up in abusive relationships and its no life to be constantly worried and unhappy. Much love to everyone in the forum who’s being verbally abused, no one deserves that. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

  11. sca721 says:

    One common tactic abusers employ but not mentioned here (I think) is to play family members off against one another, as a means of demeaning, crazymaking, etc.

    Constantly comparing siblings critically, criticizing spouse to child (potentially poisoning parent-child relationship for a long time), etc.

    Unless you’ve grown up under this sort of terrorist, totalitarian regime (all the time being told you/other family members are the real cause) and only come to recognize it much later in adult life, it can be difficult to understand how completely debilitating it can be.

    It is very much like your actual soul has been poisoned from a very young age.

  12. You are right – abusers do play one person off another and I don’t think it has been mentioned. Good catch. My ex did this to me and my sons. I think he still tries to, but my boys are too smart to fall for it (now that they’re older). <3

  13. Keith miller says:

    I have this little problem which I think it is but I need some assistance on what’s going on …let’s start off I recently started a new job well the manager which I will not name was talking to the other employees saying that all I’m daydreaming and oh he’s got stuff on his mind out their and he can’t concentrate on is Job.. The fact is I’m not…. I’m concentrating on the job that I am doing which I have 5 years in doing this job… Can he go and say this kind of things to other employees like it’s a joke and maybe I’m not supposed to hear…. Is this harassment…. at first I thought it was a joke but he keeps on saying this…

  14. It sounds like your bully of a boss has targeted you. You’re in a tight spot, I know. What are your human resource guidelines on reporting harassment? Find out what they are and follow them. If you get fired, you can either sue or take it as a sign to move on to something better. Or maybe your manager will get put on notice or fired. There’s no way to tell the future.

    If he talks about other people to you, then he’s targeted a bunch of you and the group should get together to talk about what can be done. Perhaps report him to human resources together.

  15. Meidy says:

    This reminds me of a song lyric,
    “…and if you hurt me, that’s ok baby, only words bleed.”

    In my opinion,
    So little people realize that verbal abuse is just as bad as the physical one, both are mentally destructive.
    Sometimes words could be more dangerous, because body wounds can heal, but wounds to the mind can disrupt your life.
    It makes you question your abilities, your perceptions of how you view the world, and even your sanity.

    Also, so little people realize that they’re one of the victims of verbal abuse. The abuser mostly are the ones they love, it could be the family member or spouse. That’s why they keep forgiving and tolerating. Problem is, once it’s tolerated it could get worse time by time.

    Realizing it, and admit it. Accept the fact that you’re a victim of verbal abuse. Once you do, you can take action, moreover get help. If you’re not so sure if you’re being abused, talk to someone, or read article about it.

    So yes, words do bleed, but that’s not okay.

  16. Wid says:

    I had been there for more than 10 years with physical and verbal abuses. I understand now why victims won’t tell anybody abt these but keep everything for themselves. Bcuz I did it. For victims out there, if u think u can’t leave him/her bcuz u really love your partner, plz re-think what a love should be. U shouldn’t be threatened like a stupid jerk bcuz u are not.
    In my case, I lost many years of my life… but at least finally I’m free, even though nightmares are still in my bed times. It may need more time or maybe in my head forever but It’s worth to get free.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If doesn’t happen all the time. But when it does watch out. Something will go wrong with his things. So he asks me to come and help him get for example his truck. So I go. Well the truck is stick that I have to drive to get him and I have not drove stick since my first car. So I’m a little rusty. Well I finally get going and if I’m not there when he thinks I should be I get yelled at. Then I get yelled at for not doing it right. I can never do anything right. I called off are wedding cause he called me fat. And said will you even fit in your dress. So I guess what I’m wondering is, what can I do? We have 2 kids together. Should I leave? I can’t really confront him cause them his temper gets worse. And the best part is he never feels sorry for what he does in his mind I’m in the wrong. And he did nothing.

  18. Coral says:

    My husband calls me a bloody stupid idiot.
    He fre quently charges up to me shouting at me if he’s lost something and a uses me of selling it or destroying it purposely to hurt him.
    For six years he has shouted at me for stealing and selling his gold watch and close to my face says I am a thief. I have not taken his watch.
    When waking, usually, he greets me with ‘you’ve been meddling with my papers again- I can tell, they are ruffled, Sometimes he says ‘keep your meddling fingers out’
    We live in a cold uncentral heated house, all we have is a small fireplace and wood fire is hot for a short while then goes out. I am not allowed to put wood on or take it off.
    He says Keep your meddling fingers off – it’s none of your business.
    Our property is only in his name and he frequently shouts that I have never paid a bill.
    I have worked too though he proclaims he has worked to pay the mortgage. My money has gone buy clothing for all of us – we had 3 children and most of the contents as well as paying for the telephone. Bill.
    He’s now saying my meals are rubbish and he’d be better off with a jam sandwich.
    We have been married for fifty two years.

  19. emotionally damaged says:

    I have been with the same guy for years and it seems like it never gets better. He is constantly lying to me, he has cheated on me with more than one woman. Given me a sexually transmitted disease and defended the woman that I referred to as whore. He has never stuck up for me with anyone, he allows everyone to talk so negatively about me. He has been out of court ordered rehab since 10/04/16 and supposedly has not picked up a drink since. Well he rarely talks to me or shows me affection or attention. But tells me that I am always comparing myself to others and then he said that he was going up to North Texas to see his mom(he’s 30 by the way) because he needed a therapeutic getaway and he isn’t even working or even trying to attempt to look for work. Well, he never actually talks to me either. I know that I need to leave and everytime I say that I am, I don’t. Not because of love or that I think he will change and treat me with some kind of respect but because I have no where to go and not a lot of money. I am a non custodial parent paying my ex husband child support for our two kids so I don’t get a complete check and so my finances are a big thing, but I think that maybe I should just live in my car(which is in his name but he doesn’t know how to drive standard) so I know that I will probably lose it after leaving him. But I am losing what little self respect I have for myself and need to get out of this very toxic, one way, emotionally abusive relationship. Any help or guidance into the right direction would be deeply appreciated.

  20. Terryewborn says:

    I want to know what kind of abuse is it? My ex constantly goes on line and reads reasearch and stuff. She then attacks me saying I’m this diagnosis or that diagnosis and limits my time with my kids based on her internet search.

  21. Claire says:

    I have been married to an emotionally abusive alcoholic for the past 16 years. Upon arriving home a half an hour late from work tonight (I was delayed by an unexpected business call), he greeted me at the door by calling me an ‘a**hole’ and an ‘idiot’ before I even had my coat off. He resents any activities I enjoy outside the home, often punishing me by refusing to speak to me for several days if I spend time away from him. He’s threatened to kill me in my bed, and then says he was ‘only joking’. When I’ve confronted him about his abuse, he denies any responsibility or wrong doing, saying he’d never hit me. Sometimes I just wish he would because it would hurt a lot less.

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