How to Deal with a Verbally Abusive Husband or Boyfriend
There is no difference between a verbally abusive husband and a verbally abusive boyfriend. By the time the abuse starts, the unmarried victim committed themselves to the abuser in some way (pregnancy, introduced to family, etc.), and the married victim is legally (and presumably spiritually) bound to the abuser.1 It doesn't matter if the abuser is heterosexual or homosexual, the abuse affects couples the same – it both pushes them apart and draws them closer together as the abusive cycle takes hold. (See: Verbally Abusive Men and Women: Why Do They Abuse?
Perceptions of Verbally Abusive Husband
The verbally abusive husband might act out of male privilege in heterosexual relationships; he may not understand why his wife does not want to conform to conventional roles.2 But Patricia Evans, author of five books on verbal abuse, implies there is much more to verbal abuse than chauvinism. She says at some point, the verbally abusive boyfriend or husband feels safe enough to put his perceived "feminine side" into his partner's body. Alas, since he has never been a woman, his perfect woman is a "dream woman" as Ms. Evans says.
It is important to differentiate between abused gay men and abused heterosexual women. Patriarchy and chauvinism do not fit in the explanation of abusive male homosexual relationships; gay men are not women in any context. There is a void in the research explaining abuse in homosexual relationships, but some researchers believe the ideas of male dominance and the desire for power over another person partially explains it.2
Dealing with Verbal Abuse From Husband, Boyfriend
Victims find themselves between a rock and a hard spot when it comes to dealing with their verbally abusive husband or boyfriend. On one side, the abuser tells the victim he loves her. On the other, the abuser treats her horribly and doesn't care that she's hurt.1 She realizes she's up against his entire history of abusive learned behaviors (and possibly psychological disorders or substance abuse), but feels that maybe she can love him out of it if she's patient and kind enough.
If change is possible, the victim must put aside romantic notions of love and focus on her own behaviors. She must harden her heart to his insults and rage, and consistently enforce personal boundaries that prevent the abuser from diminishing her psychologically with his verbal abuse.
When he abuses, she must be prepared to say things like:
- "I'm not going to listen to nonsense."
- "Stop it."
- "Hold it. I do not understand you. Would you please write that down?"1
If he does not cooperate, she will have to follow through with her personal boundaries and remove herself promptly from the conversation. A relationship in which one person must always be the adult is very difficult to manage. (Read also: 5 Ways of Dealing with Verbally Abusive Relationships and How to Stop Verbal Abuse)
In between abusive episodes, the victim must tend to their emotional and social needs. The victim must commit to finding effective ways to relax and mentally escape from the relationship despite the abuser's efforts to convince her to drop her friends and to stop being so "selfish."
Last Updated: 26 May 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD