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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 verbal 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!

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.

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.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 the victim’s self-doubt, there is no way to control him or her.

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.

Societal 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 find Kellie Jo Holly at Verbal Abuse Journals, or social media on Google+, Facebook,Twitter and Amazon Authors.

*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.

Author: kholly

Kellie Jo Holly advocates for domestic violence and abuse awareness through her writing. You can find Kellie Jo on her website, Amazon Authors, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

130 thoughts on “Examples of Verbal Abuse Early In A Relationship”

  1. So sad hearing all these stories. Many I could relate to .But I can finally say those were distant memories. It’s hard to recognise abuse Beacause it starts ever so gently but with each situation the layering of abuse gets heavier . After 6 years of walking on eggshells ,losing contact with friends ,family and a deterioration of my physical ,mental and emotional wellbeing I decide I needed to follow through in walking away for good this time .Dont get me wrong ,I knew it would be hard but it was sooooooo bad because his abuse,stalking and intimidating escalated . After 3 years of running I can proudly say I’m free as a bird !.
    The rewards are far greater than you can imagine .Not only have I’ve regained my independence but I’ve evolved into a strong ,wiser ,resilient person . I know what I want and don’t want due to my experience. The best lessons are the hardest… life is too short to allow another chip away at your happiness bit by bit … I see it everyday in people and it hurts me as I know it’s their path that sometimes needs to be travelled ..until they wake up one day and say …what about me …!!

  2. Is there a study out somewhere that links verbally abusive husbands with their work situation say for example a husband who has a verbally abusive female boss?

  3. I have been verbally abused for 7 yrs i am with a man 27 yrs old i am 51 when we met i knew he was not right he was always miserable spoiled by his mother and i know has mental disorders that he denies. His mother has bpd I am so ashamed of myself and have no self esteem left i thought i could fix him he calls me old says he hates me i stold his player card i made him love me i took his youth he would rather be dead than be with me he has left many times never cheated and always stayed with me never completely broke up always came back said i was the only one got engaged then says he will never marry me he is extremely narcissistic i hurt everyday he screams at me picks fights over nothing i do everything for him he is very cold never cries or says he is sorry just acts as if nothing ever happened i am so destroyed i dont have any desire to keep on i get told i am flabby while everyone else says i look great for my age ge always insults me hates that i have children and makes fun of them and my past calls me disgusting for being married in the past and is extremely jealous that i have a past please help what do i do i have no strength left

  4. 22 years For me …..in the early days we would go out and he would say ‘oh everyone has said how nice YOU are, but they don’t have to live with you’. I thought I had done something wrong and couldn’t understand why he was upset, so over time I talked less when out. This resulted in him saying to me just before we went out ‘try and be socialble and nice this evening please’ which would knock me off kilter because I would have been looking forward to going out. Thats the tip of the iceberg, according to him I waffle and talk to much, I’m miserable because i can’t take a joke, he told me people think I am weird etc. I am never quite good enough and I feel like i have been trained like a rat. ( I am embarrased to say that I am quite frightened of him but I brush it off thinking I am daft because I am afraid to admit all of this to myself because no one sees it and there are no physical bruises, )
    Somehow when he would smash things and shout in my face for, I don’t know what, I seemed to handle it better than I ever could now, I have run out of energy, I feel I want to just give up on life. I feel like I am no longer sure of myself, that I am not capable of doing things, I am not quite sure whats real or not as its all washed over with a tiny bit of nice attention every now and again. Thats without all the tutting, angry growling, rolling eyes, angry looks etc. I rather feel like an empty shell of myself and if it were not for my kids I could have run away or jumped off the nearest bridge, I could never ever hurt my beautiful kids like that. I realise that I need to take tiny steps to independence and eventually leave. I feel so ashamed of this and pathetic for putting up with it. I have asked myself if I am going mad because that what it feels like, and if I am ever ill, ooh it makes him angry. To everyone else he is marvellous and points out he is progressing with his life and I do nothing, I feel like such a let down because ‘other wives do this and that etc’ he always has plenty to talk about with the other wives and he gets them to organise stuff for him. Its his way or the highway, and you can never go against him, he is very controlling and I swear he does and says stuff to make me feel or think I am going crazy. Thank you for your article it is very helpful and one day I hope that I can get myself back and be free. It has helped to write this too.

    1. Oh Helen, its 2am here and your comment or confession hurt my heart. I’ve been in this relationship for 17years or so. It started out as snarky sarcasm. I really didn’t want him to use it with our son. When our son was little the sarcasm was just the beginning. I really should have run then. Our son is 18 years old now and all the verbal abuse he took has left him so broken. I would stand up for him all the time. I would purposely draw his fire in hopes of sparing Ollie. It wasn’t enough. Crazy thing about it our son was seeing a therapist for years. Most of them would talk to me about how to get his dad to be ” less critical”. I wish we were all being more honest. He has squashed my light. My son is suffering from depression and anxiety and I fear someday his suicide attempt will be successful. I can’t leave now. I was injured a few years back and I’m unable to work. All those years just went by, and I kept thinking it was going to get better or I could leave. Then I couldn’t. He used to like making fun of me in front of my family and friends and so I stopped having them over. It was to painful. My world got smaller and smaller. He would tell everyone that I wouldn’t answer the phone when they called. Which was sorta true. I liked to be alone in the house when I talked on the phone. But he made it weird. He would play their messages on the answering machine when they came over and erase their messages as some sort of thing about me. I actually forgot about that until just minute. Well eventually most people stopped calling. Sometimes someone would point out what was happening and I would just die a little. I didn’t know what to do about it. If he did it to our son I would jump in and we would fight about it. And that’s not good either. I really just wanted to say I’m with you Helen. And your right just typing this I also feel better.

  5. My dad has said so many of these it’s unreal. But no one will believe me, I don’t even believe myself. How do I get help if I’m just a kid? I get scared when someone even raises a hand in class. Who do I go to?

    1. Hey. You have to be live yourself. Your feelings matter and they are real. Please see if you can go to therapy any way you can.

  6. I feel like I’m in too far. I’m at the stage where I don’t remember things accurately and I continue to stay. I feel financially trapped and I make enough for me and my daughter can be ok. I’m in my last semester for my BS in engineering and this is starting to effect my school efforts. I don’t know where to get the strength to get out but I know it’s something I HAVE to do. It is effecting my 8 year old daughter now. Finding therapy is expensive and I keep saving money because I keep thinking that will help me feel secure enough to do what’s right. How do I find the strength to get out before more damage is done?

  7. I have been dating this female for about a month in a half now. If I didn’t text or call right back she would get mad and send me crazy texts and not answer my calls when I would call right back. She did that on last Thursday night and Friday when I finally got through to her we had a decent conversation. Fast forward three hours later I was outside and my phone was on the charger, I get back to the phone and seen she texted me and when I didn’t reply back within ten minutes she sent me another crazy text. So I called her a few times and when she finally answered I yelled at her asking her what’s her problem? I didn’t mean to do it intentionally and have been telling her that I was sorry but she seems to forget that her acting like that provoked me to yell. I didn’t mean it and I care about her a lot. She says that she needs some time to think about what happened. This was the first incident that we had since we started dating. I want to know what can I do to prove to her that I am not the guy she see’s me as now

  8. I was in a relationship for 16months. I found he would dump me when l said no or it wasnt going the way he wanted. Then l said no to him staying one night ..he came over pushed his way in the door got in my face shouting an pointing the finger. Saying no one will put up with you like l did. Told me to f.ck up. He then proceded to remove his glasses an asked me to hit him. He said come on hit me thats what you want to do. I have never hit anyone. He finally left

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