Verbal Abuse Disguised as Love

January 20, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

Verbal abuse is not only name-calling and overt put-downs. It's an entire collection of labels meant to define the victim and bring him or her under control.

Verbal abuse is confusing. I sometimes blame myself for not hearing our conversations for what they were. Conversations is not the right word. A conversation is a flow of words and thoughts, back and forth, between two people - a dialogue. But my ex-husband and I didn't have dialogues, we filled our communications with monologues in which we looked at one another, directed our sometimes screaming voices at one another, but definitely did not converse.

Verbal Abuse Is Confusing

Of course, none of these monologues solved any of the issues we wanted to solve, so we both left the monologue feeling . . . what did he feel? I don't know what he felt, but I felt defeated.

He told me what I was doing, what I was thinking, who I was being. He defined me.

I felt attacked. I defensively argued my position that I wasn't being, thinking or doing any of what he said I was. All I could think was: no, I wasn't being selfish; no, I wasn't remembering wrong; no, I wasn't doing that to intentionally make him angry. I felt he misunderstood me 95% of the time. I felt he didn't know me at all.

Verbal Abuse Results In "If Only I..." Thinking

Verbal abuse is not only name-calling and overt put-downs. It's an entire collection of labels meant to define the victim and bring him or her under control.I felt that his low opinion of me, that his analysis of who I was, was off mark. I made it my mission to make him understand that I was his greatest supporter, his best friend, the one person in this world who would do anything for him.

I thought that after he knew I loved him, then maybe, just maybe, he would see that I wasn't a drama-queen, a liar, a man-hater, a naive little woman who didn't ever quite comprehend the reality of the big bad world. If I could only make him see ME . . . then maybe he could love me. Maybe we could stop the fights and get to the love. Maybe we could be a team.

But that was not to be. The only time he seemed to feel close to me was when I completely agreed with him in thought, emotion, and action. If I appeared to be agreeing with him, then I was relatively safe from his anger and rage.

So, over time, I learned that I had to be him in order to please him. The problem with being him is that I could not ever be someone I am not. Try as I might, my own personality and beliefs seeped into our monologues at the worst possible moments. It was horrific to watch his face change to disgust at something I said or did. I had forgotten to be him. I let myself slip out.

Verbal Abuse Isn't Just About Name-Calling

If this feeling seems familiar to you, then I hope you begin researching verbal abuse. You’ll notice that not once in my description of my marriage did he call me a particular name. He didn’t usually throw around words like fat cow, stupid, lazy, or any of their obscene synonyms that are somehow more than a monosyllabic slap.

I don’t mean to imply that his style is more or less hurtful than a name-caller’s style of abuse. I mean that verbal abuse is composed of a symphony of put-downs and assumptions and even “I care about you so I’m telling you this” statements that flow so smoothly from the abuser that the victim cannot always tell they are abusive.

Especially when the abuser is your lover, your friend, your mother, your child . . . the idea that your loved one could be abusing you is so far-fetched from your perception of reality that the horribleness is disguised by your own mind as love.

See Also:

You can also find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not mistake my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, January 20). Verbal Abuse Disguised as Love, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

Mark Huertas
March, 12 2023 at 11:51 pm

My question is has been and continues to be is this ; Men are depicted as the sole perpetrators of any and all abuse. Google Men who manipulate, abuse, disrespect ECT.ect.ect. yet Google women who do the same nothing comes up. Are women capable and go out of their way to do damage to men? The resounding answer is yes. All you and multiple authors, social media and the general public are doing is creating a false sense of not being held accountable young women. Blameshiftting rationalizing, justifying and crying wolf when women act, disrespect, play mind games and abuse THIER men just as much as men do. Unbelievable and unprofessional and very immature. Hope this wakes up a 2 sided fair and factual conversation instead of being double standard and hypocritical.

February, 21 2019 at 12:17 am

GET MEAN! They're all Cowards. Be Mean & they coward down.

May, 27 2018 at 9:04 am

I really did hope for him to change. I fell in love and I was young and dumb. I got pregnant and I thought things will change but they didnt. We lived with my parents and he decided to leave and I followed him a few days after. I remwmber I told my dad that I was going to live with him and he told me "once he has you over there hes going to mistreat you" and I said no hes not like that. It was hell ,he kicked me out numerous times, and then apologiesed for doing it. He would say I was dumb, stupid,fat and greasy. I took food to the face ,water and he spat on me. He slpped me, because I picked him up late from work ,infront of my daughter. He would say hurtful and mean things and I would aks him why he treated me like that and he never gave me a answer. His family is the same way but he is so blind to everything they say. He blamed me for everything all the time, I did everything he asked mw to do, even when I didnt want to. He started saying he wouldnt have intimacy with me because I was disgusting to him and he didn't have hoes he had princesses and that he still wanted to be with one of my cousins. He kicked me out infront of his mom and sister for the very last time. I had had enoug. The level of stress I was going though was awful. I grabbed my daughter and my pets and left. He cleaned the whole house in les the a day ttlhree daya after I left. Its been a month or so since I left it hurts but like many people say remember why you left. And I do.

January, 24 2016 at 3:25 pm

Thank you Dianne! You so eloquently described people in my life.. I am exactly in that same spot

January, 19 2016 at 9:17 am

With verbal abuse as with physical abuse, you see it, you feel it, but with emotional abuse its usually done quietly , systematically, covert, hidden , with words of love, until you get to the point where you dont know what is real or not. The people who do this are experts at it and target someone who can benefit them in some way, financially, socially etc. The person you love is not real, they are a fantasy, they are what you want them to be, but its all deception on their part, to them you are nothing more than a source of supply and all the words of love are just that, empty words. Then when they leave you , moving on to their next source of supply you are left wondering , what the hell happened??. Emotionally, financially and in some cases physically destroyed. What society does not realise is that this sort of emotional abuse is just if not more deadly than physical abuse. Because the victim is left with in most cases PTSD and one in two actually take their own lives to stop the pain and then THEY are the one that is labled unstable and the perpertrator becomes the victim and gets all the sympathy and support with the world feeling sorry for them and telling them how brave and supportive THEY were putting up with such an obviously unstable person.

July, 28 2015 at 8:50 am

The person targeted by verbal abuse over time may succumb to any stress related illness.

Wiser Too Late
June, 17 2015 at 1:35 am

Like so many other commenters, I could have written this article - the part about only being relatively safe from anger/rage/insult/fighting by basically agreeing with everything he said/did/suggested/wanted rang so true. In my case, there is also plenty of swearing, name-calling and insults. Gaslighting is a common strategy (doesn't work with me, but incredibly frustrating). It's not just "his way or the highway". It's his reality or none - and if I make the mistake of providing irrefutable proof that he was incorrect (and worse, that I was right), his reaction is NOT pretty. I would leave tomorrow if there was a real way to do that. I'm just sorry to know that I'm not alone in having to live this life.

June, 10 2015 at 3:13 am

This blog was as if it were my biography.
He never swore, drank or called me rude names. I now know he was too controlled. The abuse was insidious, "it's for your own good""It's because I love you" it's taken me years to realise that he wanted me to be him! When I didn't agree and allowed a little of myself out, he would find me disgusting! His favourite phrase was- "if only you were a nice person" I realise today after reading your blog that I have learnt to hate & loathe myself. Possibly I am disgusted with myself?
I bumped into my ex-husband the other day in a local shop. I was about to say hello, I would like to be civil for the sake of our sons. He walked around me and ignored me. He makes me feel like something he trod in.

November, 1 2014 at 6:13 am

I've been through it too - and now I feel like I'm worthless because he treated me worthless no matter how much love I gave him!! It was never enough!! I didn't deserve any of the abuse he gave me!

October, 8 2014 at 2:40 am

My boyfriend is very much a verbal abuser..he also always accuse me of trying to get with other people when that is truly not the case..I love him more than he will ever know. .we have been through sooo much went from being phisically abused and verbally now being verbally abusive most of the time..and still almost getting phisical occasionally..I cannot live a normal life..he want to run every aspect of my life as if I don't have a brain of my own..and he become totally outraged when I want to use my own brain..but im like im just being me..sometimes he can truly be a sweetheart and other times im every bit** , h*e..and trashy piece of shit in the book..when we argue for wwatever reason he scream soooo loud..I kno the neighbors hear..and its not just about hom screaming its about the most lowest direspectful degrading tjings..he say to me that really hurts..I often wonder how my neighbors look at me because of these incidents that I am sure they hear..coming from my house hold..and the biggest thing that hurt the most is because a lot of times I get treated this way for no apparent reason..other than the way he thinks or the wayhe feel..I have never cheated on him..I have never even tthought about being eith another man..but I can honestly say I sometimes think a lot about leaving at my breaking point we have been together for almost six years..and planning to wed this coming summer..I have learned to deal with him but some things I just dont kno how to deal with..he is slowly breaking me down mentally physically and emotionally..he make me feel like dirt below his shoe when he scream disrespectful things to me..then he always come back a few minutes later and want to work things out and have sex like nothing has ever happen..he do not want to get help..and he thinks I am the one that need help..I just feel like he is draining the life out of me..and I dont kno wat to do should I marry him or get rid of him for good??.please help!!!!

July, 28 2014 at 5:09 pm

I really need some help. From what I read above: "The only time he seemed to feel close to me was when I completely agreed with him in thought, emotion, and action. If I appeared to be agreeing with him, then I was relatively safe from his anger and rage.
So, over time, I learned that I had to be him in order to please him. The problem with being him is that I could not ever be someone I am not. Try as I might, my own personality and beliefs would seep into our monologues at the worst possible moments. It was horrific to watch his face change to disgust at something I said or did. I was just trying to be me. I wanted him to love me." I feel like this ALL the time. Except he says things like, "why did you do it that way?" or "why did you say that way?" Tonight was a good example. He listened to me while I left a simple message on someone's voicemail. As soon as I hung up I got the "why did you say it like that" And he was not saying this in a friendly manner-I could see the hate in his face. And the voicemail was simple...just trying to see if this friend could give our son a ride home from a swim party. I didn't know how react (never have) to questions like this from him. I just asked him what was wrong with it? All he could say was "why did you talk so fast at the end?" I just said I didn't realized I had. So I get defensive and walk away to avoid any more questions like this. Which he follows me to continue the verbage, which turns into him saying "f*@# you". So, now I'm all upset, mad, crying and confused. What did I do? No really, what did I do? Now he's trying to apologize only because he needs an invoice printed, so I know he really doesn't mean it. What have I done so wrong? I absolutely hate me sometimes. I don't know how to defend myself against someone who truly hates me worse than I do.

July, 24 2014 at 6:32 am

Thanks for all your comments I to was in a abusive marriage I thought it was me .well that is what he kept telling me anyway now I know different it is a hard road I am on now getting a divorce but he is even fighting that.

July, 20 2014 at 2:21 am

This sound just like me. I have been married 33 years. I am now at the point where I don't want him around. I tried loving him. I walked on egg shells all of the time. There were good times but I just cant do this anymore. He can be nice one moment and mean the next. He will come in and say do you want to get something to eat and then the next I am a stupid "f" "b". the next minute he will want to have sex. He calls me dumb, crazy etc. and then will want to go to go somewhere together. When we go we fight in the car. I want and need to leave but don't know how or where to start, 33 years is a long time. He says he will not go get help and it is me that needs the help. I am the dumb one, he says. He tells me he is 53 and is not going to change.

June, 11 2014 at 1:32 pm

I am going through a breakup with the girl I loved. We dated for 4 years. We broke up for 6 months last year. When I started a new relationship, she said I was cheating on her and that she could never trust me again (even though she was sleeping with someone she had been emotionally cheating on me with). She eventually asked to give it another go, and I agreed. Big mistake. She never really tried and only brought up mistakes I made in the past. She did the name calling, saying she hated me, that nobody likes me, that I am lower than dirt, a whore, trashy etc. All I did was beg her not to talk to me like that. I did all of this work around her house for her -- my language of love is acts of service -- so that was my way of showing her I love her (I still said I love you several times a day). She said she could hire someone to do those things, so it did not mean anything. She told me she hoped her plane went down and she died and that I had to live with that. That I could fall into traffic. Then she started hitting too. It is so hard to let it go. I still love her (she ended up leaving me again)...I don't know how to stop feeling that someone this is all my fault and that she was right in that I do not deserve love. She said I ruined her life, and now I feel responsible. I don't know what to do and how to not feel so depressed. :(

March, 1 2014 at 9:40 pm

i only see an end to all relationships in all this depressing advise is there any hope to help these people or should we ban relationships completely ,i just see leave them leave them leave them god help you all.

February, 20 2014 at 8:08 am

I've been in what seems to be the SAME relationship. He acts out abominably and just about the time I'm ready to be done, he's back to the sweet man I fell in love with. I am now realizing that this is the "honeymoon" phase in the cycle of abuse. I really don't understand why this is so hard. I want to be beyond this, but it is SO painful. I want to leave the relationship but I somehow keep going. Praying for us all!

Is it me?
January, 28 2014 at 10:40 am

Oh, I forgot to mention the sex, we did it almost every day for the first 3 years. My mother passed away and I couldn't sleep so I would get up, he told me he didn't get married to sleep alone. I then realized how much our relationship was based on sex. I start trying to skip a night here and there. He would get so mad!!! He constantly threatened divorce with every arguement, about sex or just any arguement. I then would start skipping a couple of days. Mind you this took 4 to 6 years to accomplish. Also, something you should know, he didn't work the last nine years of our marriage (disabled). I have always worked. I was tired, it got down to Fridays and Saturday nights. It sounds terrible, but I felt like an object not someone he loved. Of course, that was my fault as well.

Is it me?
January, 28 2014 at 10:33 am

OMG!!! These are the exact things I lived through. My ex wouldn't exactly tell me that I couldn't do anything, but when I got home he would start or pick at me, act distant, etc. It got to the point he got exactly what he wanted, I just stayed at home. Not one of my friends were to his satisfaction. He constantly throws the old testiment about how the woman is here for the man and the man is the head of the household. All decisions go through the man, etc. I had to very careful of what I would wear, could not talk to another man(never accused me of cheating, just the perception didn't look good, of course), couldn't do anything with co workers. After the first 8 years of this 17 year marriage, I started standing up for myself. I still didn't do any of the things he didn't want me to, but I would speak up for myself. He would get very mad, the constant f u in my face or yelling and screaming at me. I would contantly say,"I stop listening when you yell" and he would calm down and then start again. Everytime I would start to say something, he would stop me in mid sentence. It was never a conversion, I didn't have a right to my opinion, I had to see things his way or it was an argument, or should I say, I was yelled at, and of course EVERYTHING was MY fault. He would tell me that he has tried everything to save our marriage. He did everything for me, he (in his eyes) was the perfect husband. I caused it all. I honestly started to believe it. Then I started to read different articles. Wow!! It helps me so much to know that I am not crazy. Mind you, I am his sixth wife, I know, stupid me. All of the other marriages were short term, ours lasted 17 years. All I can say, is it took me longer to realize, it wasn't all my fault. Good luck to all of you and thank you all.

January, 17 2014 at 3:49 am

Fantastic article and much needed. This describes my husband's behavior exactly. He is such a control freak and a tongue lasher. He would never admit to being verbally abusive because he thinks far too highly of himself. I have never known anyone in my life to be so arrogant and judgmental. I am at my wits end with this.

November, 19 2013 at 3:17 pm

Wonderful article. So much of what I read rang true for me now and in past relationships. I have a father who is very verbally abusive, and to this day, the only way I have even a slight hope of having a conversation with him that doesn't end in abuse or a tirade aimed at me is to be "him" or agree with every single thing he says, thinks, or feels. Unfortunately it's never a sure thing. Sometimes even after I do that, he'll find another way to turn on me. I've been forced to put so much distance between us that we no longer have much of a relationship.

October, 27 2013 at 1:15 pm

Hi Kelly or whoever is reading this my fiance that I've been with for five years is very similar to the description of abuse this is very hard for me to write because he will be mad most likely about this if he sees it I hope he doesn't but he is very mean to me and I am affraid that I've been dealing.with this so much for so long I feel like I act.just like.him. now I don't know how to be me anymore could this just be in my head because of my.ptsd

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
November, 2 2013 at 11:17 am

You are not alone - many victims of abuse turn to fighting fire with fire. In other words, we take on the behaviors of our abuser during arguments because they seem to work so well for them, it is logical to assume the abuser would respond to what they dish out. Very often, in my relationship, after I began acting as irrational as he did, he would step back and watch me, then tell me how irrational I was and how it was pointless to try to talk to me. For a long time, I believed I was the evil one, the abuser.
You may not be in touch with who you are right now, but you have not disappeared. Your abuser cannot take from you your essence, your soul. You still have the ability to stand up for yourself in your own way without resorting to behaving like him. The first step is to create boundaries that remind you to stay within yourself instead of venturing into your abuser's warped world. Check here for more information on boundaries:…

August, 26 2013 at 11:17 pm

Back in April I went to a therapist. The day that I was going, I told my husband. He had always told me anything and everything wrong with our marriage was my fault.
He told me to get therapy and meds. Well it is NOT me. I have read Patricia Evans' books, her website, this website, Lundy Bancroft books and others. It is HIM! I don't MAKE him mad, scream, rage, is his choice and I will not take the blame for his faults anymore.
Now I have written 'The Agreement' and once I find the appropriate witness, will present it to him. He can take it or leave it. The future is in his hands.
It has finally sunk in that it wouldn't matter who he is married too. No one is good enough. He would find fault, blame, undermine, criticize, minimize, call names to any female.
It is ridiculous and I am sick of it. I am 60! I have been a stay at home Mom for a very long time. My problem is how to support myself. I know he isn't going to change and I can't make him.
The signs were not there in the beginning. After 2 years of wedded bliss it was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Everyone comments on how nice, friendly and fun he is. When the door is shut he is someone else they wouldn't want to know.

August, 13 2013 at 3:23 am

When I read your post, it was like it was me talking. Everything you said is what happened to me. Everything PLUS the name-calling. I was married to him for 14 years, and it was like living in a nightmare where nothing made sense. I slowly lost pieces of myself. I cried almost every day because he'd pick on me and "yell" at me (he didn't allow me to call it yelling) for doing things like: using the broom wrong, bathing the dogs too much, not pushing the car seat back when he go it, etc. I couldn't do anything right. And when I didn't feel like having sex, that would set him off, too. We constantly had horrible blow-ups at bedtime. There's far too much for me to write here. I'll just end by saying I ran away and have spent the last seven years trying to unravel all the lies and trying to get myself back. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

May, 14 2013 at 2:03 am

I started to read this blog last night and had to stop. I am like many so torn between the heart and the head. The head is in shock that this man could possibly say he loves me, because he lies about cheating, I found a bra, he blames me for his two domestic violence charges, I am afraid and threatened by him, that I live in fear. And my heart holds on to the man he is during the honeymoon period. He never says he is sorry, it is his fault he needs help. He just is nice for a day and loving. Sex is his right, whether I am tired, sick, it doesn't matter, and I better be ready for as many times he wants it during the day or he is leaving me. It goes on and on. I have blocked him, there is a court date in two weeks. He had a gun the last time he was over yet, he is supposed to not own any firearms. It seems like a oxymoron, but I am afraid to report him, because I may end up in court. Please, thoughts????

March, 31 2013 at 2:05 am

I have always known my husbands Dad was verbally abusive. He caused a lot of problems early in our marriage because he was a control freak. I was able over the years to just simply stop caring about what he thought or said. When he passed, I didn't even bother going to the funeral. His family covered up what he was really like. I have been married for 41 years. My husbands verbal abuse started slowly over the years. He hurt me many times. I thought I was too sensitive. As the years went on , he got worse, I thought at times, I'm losing mind. He doesn't hit me, he doesn't drink, he doesn't swear, why am I so miserable. He made me feel crazy at times, he says he has never done anything to hurt me. Our kids begged me to leave him because he got so bad. After we sold our business, he got a lot better. Stress seems to trigger it. It isn't an excuse, that's just when he is at his worst. Without even realizing it, I stopped loving him. He took a sledge hammer and beat my love for him till it no longer existed. I have told him how I feel, he got very very angry. He can be a very sweet,kind,loving man.Then turn into his Dad. He knows this and is trying, even said he would go to counseling. He isn't a bad person but I don't love him anymore. When I think of retiring with him, my heart fills with dread. He has ADHD and an anxiety disorder, he is very clingy, needs help doing everything. We have a 34 year old son that lives with us because he is paranoid schizophrenic. How can I leave two people with mental problems? What kind of person does that make me?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
March, 31 2013 at 6:23 pm

It makes you the kind of person who is willing to see that your present situation is killing you emotionally and mentally. I sense that you realize staying in the same house will NOT help your son and it definitely won't help you. If you leave, you will experience great relief and be able to build a life for yourself. If you get strong enough and build a support network, there's nothing keeping you from inviting your son to stay with you if you still think living with him is an option. Everything changes - you'll make decisions from a better place if you don't worry about what others might think of your decision and do what is best for you.

March, 24 2013 at 4:44 pm

Hmmmm Im nervious.....posting anything. Im a abused woman. Ive been struggling for sometime even talking about it. I have been split up from my ex for 6 months....he was a manipulator type so nice to everyone handsome smile sooo nice it was almost fake...he use to open the car door for me then hours later hed be counting the amount of toilet paper I used....i couldnt feed the cat when he was in the same room...he didnt like it..hed call me aweful names when id question who he was always on the phone with...hed say a old friend which were all girls.his flirtacious behavior was innapropriate and made me uncomdfortable. If i said anything about it id get t locke out of the house and or in bathroom choked draggef down the hall way videi taped during this time...told to kill myself the world would be better witjout me...i could go on and on. I finally got out after three years of it bailed him out of jail lied to the judge because i loved him...or did i.? I have terrible nightmare he made me lose my job of 8 years at the hospital i was almost done nursing school and he messed that up as well. I have good days but i feel so ruined my heart at least i still cry myself to sleep. Thats all i can say rite now...thats the most i ever told anyone and theres so much.more but its bed time and i dont wanna upset myself. It was nice all the stories because im not alone.

March, 24 2013 at 4:37 pm

Hmmmm Im nervious.....posting anything. Im a abused woman. Ive been struggling for sometime even talking about it. I have been split up from my ex for 6 months....he was a manipulator type so nice to everyone handsome smile sooo nice it was almost fake...he use to open the car door for me then hours later hed be counting the amount of toilet paper I used....i couldnt feed the cat when he was in the same room...he didnt like it..hed call me aweful names when id question who he was always on the phone with...hed say a old friend which were all girls.his flirtacious behavior was innapropriate and made me uncomdfortable. If i said anything about it id ge t locke

February, 26 2013 at 5:47 am

Just sat here reading all the comments and my heart goes out to you all. I have been in a verbal, emotional, physical and financially abusive marriage for 7 years. I have filed for divorce and am serving him with an occupation/non molestation order on him on Thursday, the court hearing for this is on Wednesday next week. It is my house we live in.
It has been 7 years of him constantly finding fault with everything my sons and I do, or not do, the goal posts change. This is my second marriage, my first lasted 18 years to an alcohol dependent, ever absent man, the father of my two lovely sons. We have been called "freaks and morons" by husband no 2. Referred to as f*****g idiots, I have been told I am useless, incompetant, stupid and been called a s**g. I have been conned into paying off his debts, paying all the bills on two houses. He has used childish sulking and pester power to force me to buy him expensive watches, a car and a very expensive camera. His false personna, everyone fell for, even my family, they could not believe the wonderful man I had found. He soon turned from Prince Charming to a nasty abusuve monster just after our first wedding anniversary. I tried to get him to seek help, but he wouldn't, so I went to councilling on my own, thinking that he was right the problem was me. How much I have learnt about myself and him. My upbringing was at time emotionally nd verbally abusive so I knew no different. I now know that I don't have to put up with this and in a few weeks my divorce will be final. This man has damaged myself and my two sons. My youngest son and I have developed blood clots, which although are genetic, I am sure the stress we have been under has contributed to our ill health. He threatened to smash my sons face in twice and has gone to punch me in the face, has held me down so I couldn't move, bruised both my arms while trying to get me out of the way so he could hit my son and on one occasion picked me up and threw me out of my bedroom where I hurt my shoulder. He denies it all, 3 of us cant be wrong! I have tried to get his family to help me by talking to him, they are aware of his behaviour, but they don't want to know. When I asked his best friend to help me, even after he told me he has done this before, his friend then called me a liar. So now it is just my sons and I against him. Hopefully, the court next week will take my situation seriously. He's even threatened suicide twice, the second time wanting me to go with him. I am terrified of this guy and have been drawn back in by his periods of loving good behaviour, but no more, I can't take any more. The police didn't think they could secure a conviction against him when I reported the abuse to them, so I didn't persue it.
Anyone out there going through the same, get out before you lose yourself and you are controlled forever. It's hard, it hurts and you will be tempted to go back, there is a better life out there where you are treated with respect , love and dignity. You only have one life!

February, 24 2013 at 12:42 am

thank you for yr reply. It is not what I expected. :)
But I think you are correct. My therapist says to me, "You're greatest challene is to do nothin. You want to fix everythin"
I will read and think about yr reply. thank you.
[sorry my 7th letter of the alphabet key just stopped workin! ]

February, 23 2013 at 10:58 am

Kelly, you are so right when you say, "There was a time when I was convinced that loving him more, understanding him more, and hoping for more were solutions." and they weren't.
My friend is always taking these programs like "how to be compassionate", and Non-violent communication" and "Buddhist teaching". Don't get me wrong. I think all of these are good things. But a bully cannot be placated. And the problem is in the abuser. If he isn't going to change, no matter how much friend changes, ain't nothing going to change. What stops people from seeing this? What has to happen so that they see it?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 23 2013 at 2:49 pm

I think that she has to finally invest herself in those teachings. Believe it or not, she is on the right path. The deepest teachings of compassion, non-violence, and Buddhism rest on the idea that everyone is honored for who they are and not meant to be changed. She honors that philosophy outwardly (towards him) only. She hasn't yet reached the core of the teachings and asked herself, "Can I live fully in this environment? Can I live as I am meant to live and give as I am meant to give without constraint?" When she "gets it", she will come to understand that she is as valuable as he is and that The Higher Power has plans for her that she cannot fulfill under the Abuse Demon's thumb. It will break her heart to know that she must leave him because of HER needs, but once she sees that there will be no going back. If she continues down her path and reaches the core of understanding, she will realize that compassion, non-violence, and believing in a higher power directs us to be kind to our Selves first.
Right now, she counts on her shining example to tame him - and, as you said, that ain't gonna work. I realized I was most arrogant when I though my behavior could "improve" my husband. I got it in my head that yes, I was better than him, and he would be happier being like me. I didn't honor him, I sought to change him. The break-through came when I realized I was not powerful enough to change him. I could only change myself. And my Self couldn't breathe in the environment I lived in anymore.
We both hope she will change her perspective, but we cannot be arrogant enough to assume we know what's best for her. She has her own path to follow. It's our job to patiently wait for her to travel it.
In the meantime, take care of your SELF first. Detach from her relationship and focus on your own life for a while. Regain your your life. We'll pray for her to see the light before he takes it from her completely.

February, 20 2013 at 5:25 pm

I sit here after reading this post and honestly I feel like I can't breathe. For 11 years I have told myself "It's not abuse, it's not like he hits you or anything". With the help of a excellent therapist I have been working hard on detaching. I feel stronger, but I also feel stuck in a terrible limbo. A small voice in my head just told me it is time to $#!% or get off the pot, and that scares me to death.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 23 2013 at 3:03 pm

Bianca, your therapy is helping you to regain your inner voice AND you're listening to it! That is a huge breakthrough. Now, let me tell you that once victims turn into survivors, we go through some stress (to put it mildly). We tell ourselves things like "$h!+ or get off the pot" and pressure ourselves to GET OUT. Fact of the matter is, for most of us, we don't have to leave right now.
Don't get me wrong - of course I want you to leave. But unless you are afraid for your life or your partner is beating you, you don't have to pressure yourself to leave NOW. You've made it this long and you can make it a little longer as you get your safety plan (and your head) together. What your voice told you isn't about leaving or staying. It's about changing yourself and your reaction to the abuse...or not.
Take a deep breath. The next time you go to therapy, ask your therapist about setting personal boundaries and creating plans of action for when he breaks those boundaries. Find ways to keep yourself safe and strong in the relationship until it is time to leave it. Also talk to your therapist about responding to his abuse. What is safe to say or do? What do you feel comfortable saying or doing?
But all of that planning and thinking is pointless if he is assaulting you, threatening your life, or if you just can't look at him for one more second. If any of that is true, drive to a friend's house with a bag right now and stay there.

February, 5 2013 at 6:36 pm

So nice to see this, to get a clearer picture of what 28 yrs of madness has been. My husband has alcohol and pot dependency. He worked about 10 years from the time I met him until we moved and bought a house. I got work as a bartender, while he stayed home and took care of our two boys, getting them to baseball and whatever else. He would actually drink at the fields. He has not cheated on me, unless you call internet porn cheating, sigh, or I him, but we have not had sex for over 12 years. During this time, he would binge drink and have blackouts, there would be huge arguments about it between us. He went through a program that helped him retrain to be a trucker. He did this for 4 years until he got grounded for having Type 2 diabetes. He is unable to work due to physical conditions, bad back, hip, crushed ankle, type 2 diabetes. I have been called the "c" words millions of times, I have been called every one you can come up with. I have detached and and become the yes man. This, of course, infuriates him, because he wants me to "interact with him" He is ten years older and likes to bring up that he is wiser and studies things on the internet and can debate Phd's. I should pay mind to what he says. With the economy in the toilet, and I can even tell you how it got there, because he explained every detail to me, to quantum physics to everything I have no control over, to surviving an economic collapse, I get yelled at for not doing anything to prepare for it (I work full time and right now have been off work due to surgery gone bad) So I bring up that since he has all the time in the world to study about it, why isn't he doing something about it? I actually said to him "I don't have to think, I work" He tells me about not having sex is because "we have to have a meeting of the minds first" I have tried so very hard to learn everything he brings up, with no rewards, its all smoke and mirrors. I am sitting in a motel, I left the house about 7 days ago, He says I don't listen to him, I don't do what he asks, simple things like separating trash, he likes to burn the burnable trash, we have 2 trash cans, and I do tend to just throw the trash to the can that is closest. We tried counseling years ago for about two weeks, said it wasn't doing us any good, He went to one AA meeting and said he wasn't like them. He is constantly on the internet watching the world fall apart and trying to figure out how to survive it. I told him I was done living like this, and that since I don't believe all the bad names he calls me it was hard to believe anything he said. He is all about speaking truth no matter what the costs and no matter who it hurts. He has alienated his siblings and my family due to his outbursts. I told him the only hope left is for him to go to counseling or its over, done, caput. The other night after we argued for 6 days about whether our youngest son was doing drugs, he had no paraphenailia no proof nothing but suspicions, and he wouldn't even sit down and talk to our son about it, he wanted to ask his past roommates, he asked a someone at the hospital where I had to go for treatment, he asked his best friend, everyone but his kid. He was invasive and evasive, to me, to our son and I called him out on it. He even called our son's girlfriend, who was living with us at the time a "crackhead", well that opened a new can of worms which started this ride for me to head out the door. He is not interested in anything I like to do, altho we are able to go camping and go on road trips together and able to be civil and enjoy the time away from home. I swear every time a full moon comes around he become jekyll and I need to hide lol. I did call a therapist today and said when I get back from visiting with my family for a few weeks that I would make an apt. So tired...Oh wait, and he tells me he doesn't go out and carouse, he buys all his clothes and shoes (which he has two dressers and a closet and a floor of them) at garage sales, he sacrifices his health and hearing, won't go to doctors or dentists, won't take his medicine and does get free fire wood for us as his way of showing me he loves me. Says I am ungrateful for all he does for me. A year ago I split our money up and opened my own account because he threatened me, when he was drunk, by saying he was going to take it all. That went over real good. I have paid the bills all year, without him using any of his half. Then he gets mad at me because I am not paying them off in full. If I did I would be broke, and then dependent on him again. Have I become an abuser? I feel like I am in a battle for my soul. I have forgotten who I am.

January, 24 2013 at 1:44 pm

I am in the process of a divorce, married 30 years. Abuse start 7 years ago, when I had to quit work (I flew for a living) and went on disability. Now since I was home all the time, he would say "Your back has interfered with my Life".
It went downhill from there. He got worse when he retired 2 years ago. Then I had enough. He is extremely immature, manipulative and gaslights.
He does not take responsibility for his actions or his words. He has gotten really strange and weird (another women)? I would not doubt it, since he hasnt touched me in 8 months (I am good looking) and take care of myself. Sometimes I wonder if he is gay.
He denies everything he has previously said, making me feel crazy. I told him to leave. it has been 8 weeks now, I feel better about myself and finally have my peace at home. Can he change? Every word I read online says NO. We will see, but I am detaching from him for my own sanity. I must.
I pray every night for strength. It is a journey. I will be alright.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
January, 27 2013 at 9:10 pm

Yes, Rae, you will be all right. Find peace and freedom whenever you can and continue detaching. You're on the right path.

January, 21 2013 at 4:24 pm

I have just realized after only being married a year that what is happening is not my fault. I am being verbally abused and not knowing which way to turn.
He says he doesnt need therapy and he isnt such a bad person he doesnt hit me or call me names. I have told him i know that he shouldnt treat me as he does and im not letting him do it anymore. Since then he has blamed me from everything from cheating to you name it. I have to keep telling myself its not me and i need to walk away. i would like so much for his Im sorrys to actually mean that but in a year they havent meant anything and now he thinks if he says hes sorry and hes been nice a week everything is okay. Well its not he is infuratated with me and has threatened me with not paying for my bills cause if im gonna leave anyway he isnt paying it. And its still my fault. Needing support to do what i know this is leading to and saving any respect i have for myself.

December, 2 2012 at 5:59 pm

Perfectly written. You hit the nail on the head with these words:
"He told me what I was doing, what I was thinking, who I was being. He defined me."
This is what verbal abusers do, there is never a conversation, it is just them talking "at" you.

anonymous (please do not publish my name)
July, 27 2012 at 5:47 am

This article was a real eye opener. i spent over 20 years in an abusive marriage. i come from a background where my mother was physically abused and i was verbally abused. i am now in a relationship that i THOUGHT would be free of abuse, but after reading your article, i realize that this is what is going on. It wasn't always like this. This started just recently. i don't know how or why. i don't know if i am to blame or not. i am bipolar and also suffer from borderline personality disorder as a direct result of the years of abuse. This article answered A LOT of .. it just made me realize why i have been acting the way i have. the man i am with has triggered me. i have the same feelings now towards him as i did my ex-husband. the feelings of being trapped, scared to say anything, drop anything, or even try to explain myself. i have withdrawn and become angry and hurt. i feel like an injured dog in a corner. i just want to be left alone.
i don't know how many times i have told this man that he won't be happy until i become him. he only wants me and loves me when i "behave". when i try to tell him about what it is that is bothering me between us he asks why i am always coming down on him when he's tried to be nothing but nice to me. he blames me & my mental illnesses. he says my meds need adjusting, i'm having "an episode", i need to snap out of it, etc... i've told him over and over to stop placing the blame on me. yes, i am probably partially to blame because of the way i have been reacting to his behavior... it takes 2 to tango... but now i know WHY i have been acting the way i have. i just hope i can put an end to this without losing my sanity or losing him. Because despite it all, i do love him and i want this to work between us. but i REFUSE to be abused again. i don't deserve it.

June, 26 2012 at 12:00 pm

We get lost and trapped in the ‘what’s wrong, why? what do I need to do?’
Answer - be yourself, stay strong/make plan to deal, eventually you may have to leave/exit the relationship. Ur personality/identity/strength is wats wrong (in the abusers eyes),it answers ur why also and wat u need to do is escape the abuser.

Jeannette Fenter
April, 22 2012 at 5:30 am

I lived through 7years of verbal abuse by a husband who had promised me and my family and my church members that I would be safe with him! The abuse started with put downs about my character, after only a week of marriage. Then it escalated to accusations of things I supposedly said, which I never said. I kept me off-balance. I never knew when the next one was coming. He decided he was my "psychiatrist" and analyst, because he took one course of psych in college. His "therapy" was full of judgements that weren't true about me. He would verbally slam me, then claim he wasn't angry, after talking in the most vile way. Then he would play the "nice guy" making me feel bad about feeling bad toward him. With this I realized I married someone like my mother. I have been single again for 2 years now. There is a very nice man in my life who wants to marry me. He is very innocent and sweet. He is a gentleman. I want to marry him. But I am still scared if I marry him I will walk up one morning and find I am with another abuser. I don't believe he could ever be one, but the fear is there. I will have to give this relationship some time and wait until I am comfortable.

Kellie Holly
April, 16 2012 at 2:05 am

Lloyd, you said you "can't take the pain the relationship causes". It is time to take care of you and your children. She is not willing to care for herself, then there is nothing you can do to make her "fix it".
However, you could go to therapy. People affected by abuse of all types need support. For example, Al-Anon exists to help the *family members* of alcoholics.
My therapy sessions were instrumental in helping me get a clearer perspective of my relationship. Yes, I did eventually leave him, but leaving isn't the only option. You can stay with her and be healthier for children and yourself if that is what you want to do.

April, 15 2012 at 3:15 pm

It's not recommended that family members try and be each other's therapists.
If mom is not feeling happy and fulfilled in the balance, then with that goal for herself she may be open to seeing a professional to help her reopen her positive emotions and stay in touch with them--no matter her perspectives on your all's behaviors, i.e., those of her family and friends.
No one has to give away their power to feel joy. But learning the hows of that is not always obvious.
If she is into self help, then she may enjoy some YouTube videos, too.

April, 15 2012 at 3:12 am

I think that verbal abuse and what I have read here as "walking on eggshells" counts for us men too. I am not personally experiencing physical abuse, but have a spouse who had a very rough childhood that has left a lot of scars and pain which cause her to react in certain ways that can put the kids and I on an emotional roller coaster. She's far from narcissistic, but is so giving that it is actually harmful because she becomes very bitter and resentful at times. Her behaviors can be extremely hurtful, and suggestions of counseling and help leave her feeling defeated, angry and resentful - the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish.
From the "abusers" view, the kids and I seem like we are the narcissists, in that while we are tired of the extreme mood swings and verbal abuses, we try to plead with her and offer her suggestions on how to change the harmful behaviors. However, from our view, she isn't an abuser, but someone who needs to help.
How do you help someone who won't help themselves, but you simply can't take the pain the relationship causes? Leaving isn't an option, it would only increase her already heavy depression.

April, 14 2012 at 1:53 pm

Greetings, Kellie,
My mother did all the abusive acts. I did manage to get away from her, but married a man exactly Like her. Still trying to get rid of him. Anyway, after everything that has happened, I have decided to be Alone By Choice. I have had to move at least 3 states away in order to begin the healing process. My mother still calls me. Naturally, now she is the absolute image of love and devotion for me. I ignore it. I know better. I have been on my own for 2 years. I love it. I am learning to love myself. I am also learning that I am far stronger than anyone ever thought.
There is something most people do not know about those of us who have had a lifetime of abuse...rage. Someone like myself has 2 options in life. Either become an abuser, or learn to deal with it proactively. I am the latter. I am not looking for sympathy. It is what it is. No one on the outside can change that. No one. It would be easy to give in to the abuse. To give in to the hatred, anger, and rage I feel toward people. I am stronger than that, and I am Not what they [mother, husband] said I am. It is real work to be nice, kind, and gentle. I tell people that they want me to be that way. Ordinary people cannot make me angry, even if they do "push a button." I know that they aren't doing anything on purpose, thus nothing happens. An abuser is the only one who can make me angry, and I leave them alone.
To All Those Who Are Being Abused:
Get Out! You cannot change them.
They have chosen their path.
Leave them to it. Love yourself.

April, 12 2012 at 2:13 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I can certainly relate to what you had to say about your relationship with you soon to be ex-husband. My former husband had very similar behaviors, which is why getting away from him and getting a divorce was the best choice I could have made. I also can relate to the other comments to your post. My ex told everyone our divorce was "my fault" but I had gotten to the point that I just didn't care anymore about his opinion or why he was always so angry at me. Additionally, I took a hard look at myself and I had to decide if I was going to live this way for the rest of my life and I decided there was no way I was going to and I moved out and made him file for divorce.

April, 11 2012 at 2:00 pm

I was married for 15 years and it wasn't until recently (two years after we separated) that I realized that verbally abusive was what our relationship was. The abuse has carried on post marriage. The names, the accusations, and my very real need to defend myself. When I read this blog post, I had chills running down my arms. This was us. This was what I thought was normal for a marriage. I thought that I was that person who engaged and yelled back and participated in the monologues. I have had a relationship since my divorce that made me realize that normal conversations and arguments did not end up being verbally abusive. My ex is still very much verbally abusive with the language and screaming at me and then of course I try and defend myself. The pattern is hard to break. I now disengage by hanging up the phone or realizing that he is just trying to get me to try and defend myself so he can continue the verbal abuse. I owe him no explanation or defense.
It was really empowering when I stopped participating in the abuse.

April, 11 2012 at 12:50 pm

The name calling was just the beginning of the abuse. Then he made sure that everyone knew i had been diagnosed Bipolar. I was the crazy one!! A few days before our 5th anniversary, he dropped me off 20 mins outside of town with a family I didn't know and never came back to get me. It's been almost 9 months now and for some reason I'm the one that can hold my head up high in front of everyone and he's the one that is hiding out!! He played on my every vulnerability. I've had some really good Christian counseling and I'm already on a good path, getting back on my feet again. What drives a man to hate women so much I'll never understand. But I hope he gets the help he so desperately needs before someone else becomes his victim. At least now I know all the signs to watch for.

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