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Things Verbal Abusers Say and Do

What does verbal abuse sound like? The tone and content varies from abuser to abuser, but the words effect the victim in similar ways. Victims hear horrible things from their abuser and they feel small, withdrawn, angry, helpless, sad, shame, and a hundred other horrible emotions – sometimes all at once.

In the beginning of my relationship, I felt anger and stood up for myself which led to loud, circular verbal altercations that had no solutions. Later, after coming to believe that he was my hero, my savior and provider, I felt stupid and wanted to fix myself so he would love me.  Much later, I turned away and left the house for awhile which eventually led to increased physical violence and leaving forever.

Sometimes my abuser’s words hurt when he jabs and attempts to provoke on the phone. Mostly, the memory, the countless memories of what he’s said to me rear up and try to convince me that his remembered voice is my own.

This list is only a partial list of the things verbal abusers say. It’s not limited to my own abusive relationship. It takes into account what other’s have reported hearing, too.

Things Verbal Abusers Say:

  • “Why don’t you get a job so you understand the real world? Oh, wait – I forgot – you can’t get a job because you’re a stupid sh!t.
  • “Quit your whining and crying. You have no reason to cry or complain! Your life is perfect because I made it that way!”
  • “Bitch” (and the countless other names I won’t bother to list)
  • “I should have left you at the club with all the other whores.”
  • “If you were more like my mother I could worship you.”
  • “I hate it when you act so pitiful. Stop the waterworks and talk like a human being.”
  • “I can’t stand to look at you. You make me sick.”
  • “You’re such a great actress! You know how to get what you want, don’t you?”
  • “I can’t believe I have to come home to you every day. How did I get involved with such a train wreck?”
  • “I must be the first a$$hole to love you. You don’t know how to please a man!”
  • “You’re fat and miserable and you make me hate you.”
  • “You always look like God stomped on your face.”
  • “Why do you care what I want for dinner? My favorites taste like crap when you make them anyway.”
  • “You used to be as beautiful as my ex, but geesh – time hasn’t been good to you, baby!”
  • “Those children are mine, will always be mine, and if you leave you’ll never see them again.”

Things Verbal Abusers Do:

  • Deny they said anything similar to the list above.
  • Defend what they’ve said.
  • Analyze what they’ve said out loud, explaining that the words they used do not have the definitions you seem to think they do.
  • Block you in a room so you can’t leave and thereby avoid what they’re saying.
  • Talk horribly to the television but are really speaking to you.
  • Flip open their knife to open a piece of gum while looking at you under knitted brows.
  • Leave to do something else at the last minute when you had plans together.
  • Take you out for your best birthday ever and then wind up berating you on the way home for not appreciating their efforts enough.
  • Tell your children you need more happy pills to be a good mom.
  • Change the topic of the conversation so you bounce from one place to another, never getting to the core of the issue.
  • Accuse you of being a whore or a dummy or a _________ so often that they no longer need to say the words but can offer up a “look” and you know what they’re saying (then they may deny it).

Abusive people, men and women, say and do similar things to control their victims. The delivery may vary in tone or type, but the effect is the same.Okay. I have to stop. My stomach is literally upset right now after digesting the utter contempt and hatred some people spew on a daily basis.

If you’re still living in this nonsense, learn about detachment and how it can benefit you. Maybe in time you’ll choose to leave your abuser, and maybe you’ll choose to stay. No one here will judge you for staying (I’ve been there and it can feel hopeless!), but please work on ways to make yourself feel better in the process.

Start here:


You can also find Kellie on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Visit her website at Verbal Abuse Journals: Verbal Abuse is Domestic Abuse that Leads to Domestic Violence or purchase her books from Amazon.

*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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318 Responses to Things Verbal Abusers Say and Do

  1. If you could get through to him, you could have done it the first time you reasoned with him. Abuse is not about reason, it’s about control. Get treatment for your depression and contact the NDVH at http://thehotline.org. It’s time to go.

  2. bronwyn says:

    I am looking for some help I was wondering is it abuse when your partner calls you horrible names like stupid slag thick you act like a child because my partner says a lot to me he always puts me down and makes me feel crap about myself the other night I was sat next to him and was showing him what my daughter did to my son and the next thing he pushed my arm out the way and then I went to get my son and he pushed my arm out the way and started calling me stupid again Is this abuse or is it all in my head

  3. It is definitely abuse. It is not in your head.

  4. Nate says:

    I guess there is nothing for me here. Since I’m a guy, who is constantly being berated… good luck ladies. (I’m NOT being sarcastic)

  5. virginia lee says:

    I’m pregnant and I am depressed more often and feel sick 24/7 and so don’t cook as much as I used to or do as much around the house and my boyfriend calls me a piece of crap and tells me that I don’t do anything anymore and it really hurts my feelings. I thought that maybe he’s right and I’m a depressed awful person but I’m only depressed when I’m around him. He had a porn addiction and whenever I would catch him he would call me names and make me feel really bad about myself. Is it abuse?

  6. Susan says:

    Been with the same man for 15 years. We have 1 child together. He can be a nice loving person when he wants. But can also be very mean as well. I guess I want us to be a happy family. But he still feels the need to go out all the time and stay out drinking all day (especially sundays). We both work hard and provide a lot for our child. When he does comes home he start to get mad at me and he doesn’t realized he is slurring his words or start to call me a “bitch”. He just really thinks it’s me being me being a bitch. I have asked him numerous times to stop with that name. But he thinks b/c I act like one than that’s my name. There has been times where he calls me that in front of my child. But when he is not drinking or away from those people that consume his time. He is the best husband and father. It seems I can’t do it anymore. We need marriage therapy and he need to stop using “bitch” all the time when he gets mad at me. Just don’t know what to do anymore

  7. Lou says:

    Hi everyone I’m louise … I’m sad tonight my partner is mean and constantly has horrible words to describe my children ….I’m honest with him and voice my concerns about my kids (nothing serious just progress at school) and as soon as he has had a drink he decides to use my words against me , the words I expressed to him in confidence (eldest had a hard year 3 at school he’s great now) as my loving partner!!! I’m a shit mum and a failure… I forgot to heat the Chicken for the wraps for his kids ( he has 2 from previous relationship) got the shit for that

  8. Mrs says:

    Are there any private, confidential support groups in NYC (Manhattan)? I would like to connect with other ladies suffering from verbal abuse, or married to an unstable man. I just need someone to talk to, to help me get back to the woman I was before my husband (and unfortunately the father of our child) destroyed me.

  9. jackie says:

    my mother is so mean and threating and sometimes me and her get in to a fight and she tells me she telling my stepdad and then she tells me to shut up and then she tells me to leave her alone and she gets on my nerves and case for nothing I can not deal with her I tell her what I do and what my sister would say about all this and she threatens once again my stepdad on me I am so tired of this I can not move out because I am not able to live on my own I love my mom but she [moderated] who has nothing better to do but threaten me what can I do

  10. Deborah says:

    So spot on about abuse. Whether it’s emotional, or physical, it’s still abuse. After my husband walked out of our 36 year marriage 3 years ago, it caused me pause and reflection to analyze the “who and what” I had married for eons. He was and still is a narcissist who never respected anything I said or did. I used to think it was just his arrogance, since he had been enlisted in the military and then became a Naval Officer. He could take tests extremely well too.

    Now, 3 years later and 59 years old now, divorced too has given me the strength to evaluate how I think about myself and how I want to be treated by others moving forward. I signed up on a online dating site with most men pleasant and respectful but there are others who are not, and I now can recognize it quicker than when I was married. One guy wrote to me calling me “baby” but wrote him back telling him I am no ones’ baby by any means especially to a perfect stranger.
    I feel more powerful now and know I will be fine moving forward.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I dont work and today my husband told me i am worthless because of me he is in debts because i asont help him with the rent. Am i haveathree year old and 16 year old. He say he is here only for them i am tired of all the time he throw in me. That he pays here so today i told him i do help because with the food stamps we eat he say he wont eat here anymore. He is so childish but before that he told me he istired of me and inam worthless is thatabuse

  12. baby says:

    My husband is very bad with words and is a minister

  13. sara says:

    Hi I’m being with this guy for 15 months now and we are engaged, we live together.
    He is a great father and good boyfriend and very faithful but when he gets mad he call me bitch, stupid, dumb, cunt and it hurts me so bad that he treats me the way.
    I was married before and my ex was an abuser in every way and I feel like I’m back in the same situation.
    My fiance drink a lot and I told him to stop and he does it , but his words is to painful.
    What should I do?

  14. Autumn says:

    My husband and I dated in high school for 2 1/2 years then we broke up because of my family. We got back to gether 2011. We have been to gether almost 6 years. The first half was good but after I had my second child 2013 he was a complete ass. He would say things that hurt bad. He still does it we have been married for 2 years. He thinks he’s always right. And says hurtful things. He doesn’t think he does anything wrong. I just started to have anxiety attacks. We have two kids he adopted my oldest. I’m not sure what to do. He’s going to lose me.

  15. Kati says:

    @ Mrs.—I too am in Manhattan, I would love to meet up. Similar situations. Email is ilovecandybella at gmail. Hope to hear from you!

  16. Sharon says:

    Msc: What will it do to make you leave? Why are allowing your husband to treat you in this way? What is this teaching your family about relationships? It would have been a different story if the glass had hit your face or head, or god forbid one of the children, a trip to the emergency room could have resulted in all sorts if repercussions.

    Why does your husband think you flinch? if it’s that embarrassing he should stop treating you like some slave who is there to bully when he fancies it and then be nice to when he is in a more pleasant mood. Get some help and advice and get out of there before some real physical damage is done.

  17. Lelee says:

    So last night my husband and I had a fight and it got to the point where he starts to call me names, he said that I was ____ , I’m worthless, I’m a bad wife, and a dirty wife, then tonight he tells me that I’m a fat wife that can’t cook or please a man..I don’t see how I’m any of this because I mean I’m a clean freak, I can’t leave my house dirty with an 8 month old baby living in it. I’ve had this males back and held him down when his own family didn’t, I may not have taken care of him financially but I’ve been loyal faithful committed to this male and I get in return some name calling that I never knew existed in a males mouth. J have three kids and I’m a 189# 23yr old women. He fantasizes about him coming home and I’m standing by the door waiting for him and once he set foot in the house that I just pull down his pants and ask him how his day was or that I help him take his clothes off everyday when he comes home from work but at the same time be in the kitchen making dinner oh and also already have his drink made so he can sit on the couch and play games. Basically I’m a maid and not a wife. I’ve tried so hard to make us work but he’s just a child who don’t know how to talk to a women. He calls him self a player bc he’s done it with a lot of trannys and so he’s a player. But when u really see this person in reality……I promise u, u will think that he looks like a puffer fish or whatever that fish is called, a lot of people have told me so. But I love this man I just realize that everything that he’s called me yesterday and tonight really shows me how and what he thinks about me. I have more but I’ll stop here bc I’m really upset and need to cool down, sorry y’all didn’t mean to vent on here

  18. Shannon says:

    Why can’t I leave. He drinks and denies he is an alcoholic even though he is. We both had other problems with opiates and I hate to say it but he was much calmer doing those but now he does both. We struggle with our addiction but now that I currently don’t have a job he yells and screams at me daily. I have a 16 year old daughter who is not his – her and I live with family but I spend a lot of time at his house. I set a daily reminder in my phone to leave and next to it a question -”was my day free of verbal abuse?” and I have not answered no since I put it in there. I am not in denial about my problems or that I need to leave. He is not the person that will push me to do better nor will I ever be fully clean without him around. But I can’t leave because I don’t want to be alone. I have no friends – I am not working but trying to. I am depressed and I am seeking help. I really am trying to make this move but the whole idea of losing the person I’ve known for 15 years and together with for 9 (a year when we first met and now for the past 8 years). I don’t want to be alone and people like my mom say well you have me and other members of the family… more importantly you have your daughter. But you all know, it’s not the same. How sick am I to want to stay and be screamed at every day rather than move on with my life? What’s wrong with me? Why do I ask for this verbal abuse on a daily basis?

    Sometimes, I will say something just to see how he responds -not to provoke him but just to see if he has any love for me but it’s not love – it’s a means of control. He never assures me it’s going to be ok- There is nothing good left to this relationship- so why can’t I just leave? Can someone please help me? I wanted to do the chat but I am embarrassed. I am an addict who has gotten worse since I have been with this guy and I am so depressed, I barely shower once every two weeks.

    My daughter hates him but she will no longer listen to my rants and I can’t blame her. She is a super good kid – straight As saves money good friends- why isn’t my self worth and my love for her strong enough for me to say “I’M DONE FOR GOOD!!!” I have left quite a few times but never for more than a week and lately if I have left, it’s never for more than a few hours. I just don’t want to be 36, while my daughter is out on a Friday or Saturday night sitting with the old farts in my fam ( my mom and nana – I love them dearly but I see them twice a week as it is and live with my nana when I’m not sleeping at my boyfriends). Or I will be sitting home playing escape the room games or online poker. I leave him and that will be it- Who will want me? Why don’t I have any self worth or confidence – why am I so afraid to be alone that I would rather be verbally abused? I forgot to also mention that my bf has a 70 year old roommate with whom he sits and drinks with and I can’t stand the guy so 90% of the time, I sit alone watching movies. Why do I want this? Why can’t I leave? What do I need to get the gonads to get out of here? He is so mean but denies it and he is one of those that talks in circles to misdirect the root issue. It used to be better at one time.

    I met him at 21 after I divorced my daughter’s father. We dated for a year but then he left the state- we remained friends but even when I was with someone else for 6 years, he was the only person I ever wanted. Not anymore- I really don’t think the issue is that I still love him because I don’t cry at the thought of losing or leaving him, I cry at the thought of being alone and then growing old and dying alone one day without a partner. Does anyone have suggestions?

    PS Sorry for the rant but that felt good to get out- thank you healthy place!

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