Not Everything A Verbal Abuser Says Is A Lie

May 17, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

Nikky suffers from verbal abuse. Her husband terrorizes her and their children with volatile language and sometimes backs it up with physical violence. She cringes when he goes off and I imagine her sitting in a tiny ball, trying to protect herself as well as she can from the fitful blows that may rain down at any second.

Perhaps a part of her wishes that he would just go ahead and do it. If he hits her and uses up all that hateful energy, then perhaps she could heal in peace. She does not say this, but many other abused women I've spoken to do.

Abusers Do Lie About Who We Are

Verbal abusers twist the fabric of our lives into an unrecognizable history of ourselves. They repeat their version of reality to us loudly and aggressively (or perhaps through insinuation and glances) hoping that we will come to believe it, too. Here is what Nikky's husband said to her:

"I saved your honor by marrying you. You're just a whore who was active when other girls were still playing with their dolls. I bet you miss him, or miss them. Are they all better than me? who was the best among them? Go to them. Go and have fun with them, you certainly feel like it. You want it because it's in you. They are in you. I saved your honor. How stupid was I? You're just a useless whore. I never loved you but I felt pity. I had pity for you. You are stealing my money. You are hiding your truth by giving the image of the good spouse."

Although we victims know our verbal abuser is spouting lies about us, these thoughts go through our minds:

  • Oh no! Here we go! Where can I find a safe place?
  • Why does he do this?
  • Where are the kids?
  • What should I do? Yell back? Run out the door? Be silent?
  • How can someone who loves me say these things to me?
  • Maybe I wasn't clear when I talked to him about this.
  • If he would listen to me then he would understand the truth!
  • If he thinks so little of me then maybe I am not who I thought I was.
  • and, at some point, we find ourselves agreeing him, just a little through word or action, so he will think we believe him.

It's the times we pretend to agree that are the most dangerous to our mental health. First and foremost, acting a part can lead to playing that part. I mean that the more often we must pretend to agree, the more likely it is that we will come to agree, in some measure, with his lies.

I never came to truly believe my husband's version of reality. But the doubt about "reality" that he successfully implanted in my mind left me in a gray shock, holding on tightly to disbelief in his lies and unable to believe him when he spoke the truth. My ability to honor my fear about what he may do disintegrated.

The Truth Abusers Hide As If Another Lie

When we lived in Texas, my ex "jokingly" said that if he killed me, he would chop me up in a wood-chipper and deposit my body in lakes across Texas as bait for catfish on fishing trips. Empty threat? In hindsight, I believe he rehearsed the act in his mind. Otherwise, why would he talk to me in private about how he would also clean the wood-chipper, replacing the parts that ground my flesh into hamburger.

And yet I wasn't properly afraid. I stayed, stuck in the gray shock, not knowing the truth from the lies. He threatened to hit me so many times and did not do a threat a lie or the truth? I believe Nikky is also stuck, unable to feel her fear instinct properly. Here is what she writes in her post, If I Blink, I Will Be Punished:

"He tells me in front of the kids, he swears on the kids' lives, next time he needs to beat me, he won't stop until I die (with my ten year old sitting as close to my side as she can to protect me, my son on the floor at my feet, creating a barrier and my eldest shouting at him to STOP), he reminds me that he broke my laptop over my head (causing me damage which I still suffer from one year later) He shouts that he has every intention of using my old computer, next time ... and he will kill me and it will all be my own fault ... he swears on the kids' lives that this will be so."

This is not a verbally abusive lie. This is the truth. He's rehearsed beating her down in real life before, and he is rehearsing finishing her off in his mind. When she feels his anger grow and she is running about the house trying to placate him, he is envisioning beating her so badly that she winds up dead, dead, dead.

I cannot predict the future, of course. But I see the news and almost every day there is a story of domestic violence ending in death for the victim and often the kids too.

Nikky, sweet girl, your abuser tells you the truth sometimes. I know it's hard to discern from your insider's view, but it is clear as a bell from my perspective. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE) or local law enforcement to discover how to leave this man today.

What advice would you give to Nikky? Please comment below and I'll let her know I wrote this post.

Please share and tweet so together we can work to end domestic and verbal abuse.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, May 17). Not Everything A Verbal Abuser Says Is A Lie, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 19 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

May, 7 2014 at 8:13 am

Dear Kelly,
I cried when I read this post. I always keep my mouth
shut when he rages. I'm in therapy and have decided
to leave him when I've gathered my strength. I cannot
take this anymore.
Thank you for this blog, it's great for women in our

Heather Russell
January, 22 2013 at 2:21 pm

I am currently in the process of a divorce from my abuser. He is the one that requested the divorce because he was tired of being kicked out of the house all the time and finally got fed up with me not accepting his abuse towards me anymore. He was not getting his way the way he used to. I filed the divorce papers on 1/14/13. I do not have an ex parte on him due to the fact that I have tried that in the past and he became worse and would sneak around in the yard after the police were off duty. (we live in a small town)After the last time I let him move back in he told me things that only someone inside the house at the time would have known so, I knew when he said he was outside the house looking in at night that he was not lieing. I do fear that he might have a melt down before the divorce is over due to the fact that I am not there to abuse, he quit his job,is being evicted from his apartment,and could be going to jail for a year for violation of probation. Of course all of his problems are blamed on me. I have been married to him for 3 1/2 years. The abuse consisted of internet affairs to punish me,a physical affair where he let me find him in bed with another woman,finding pictures of 12 year old girls in sleazy lingerie on the internet history,calling me every filthy name imaginable,threatening to throw a wrench at the back of my head because we were arguing,saying he should hit me while holding a hammer at shoulder height,threatening that the only evidence the police would ever need that he abused me was my brains splattered all over the walls,telling me to do something and getting mad if I didn't do it and getting mad if I did do it,always saying that I did not know how to do anything and that he was a genius that just never applied himself,telling me to submit in everything he told me to do (even having intimacy with him and other men at the same time). I told him after we agreed on the divorce that I was so glad that I did not fall to the devil and do sexually immoral things with him because one it was not right and two because I did not give him the justification to call me a whore. He came back with "You are a whore" Of course he would. He couldn't be the person that was wrong. I did not realize that all of it was effecting me the way it has until now after being away from him for the past 18 days (except for hateful voicemail putting me down or hateful name calling texts that have started to stop) I feel stupid for what I have let him put me through. He has made me feel that a lot of his reasons for how he treated me were right even though I know they were not right. He has made me second guess myself through this whole marriage. If I asked him to help me do something there was always an excuse as to why he wouldn't. If he asked or should I say told me to help him do something I could have no excuse or else I was selfish B. So, much I have read on here sounds just like what i have been going through. I know it is not my place to understand Why? the abuser does these things but I still keep asking Why?

May, 17 2012 at 9:46 am

My friend Patrica has shared with you on my Blog post an article that explains a little the situation in my country where abuse is allowed as the law do not offer protection. I wish it was easy to leave. I will one day. I hope so <3 Thank you again.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
May, 17 2012 at 2:29 pm

I did not know you were not here, in America, Nikky. I am so sorry to have written as if you had the freedoms I did! Of course I will read the article Pat sends to me. I cannot imagine your pain, Nikky. I am praying for you.

Patricia Eastwood
May, 17 2012 at 8:55 am

Can I please send you an article I posted on my facebook page, 'Hold My Hand' about the law in the country where Nikky lives? It is a little too long to post here, and although she makes no secret of being generally Middle Eastern, she does not actually openly disclose which country this is.
The article will show you exactly what her problem is, Kellie.
With respect, Pat.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
May, 17 2012 at 2:31 pm

Yes, please send the article to kelliejoholly[at]gmail[dot]com. My facebook page is if you want to friend me.

Jodi Aman, LCSW-R
May, 17 2012 at 5:59 am

We are so blessed in America that our own mental prisons are what keep us from freedom. In Nikky's case, Lebanon laws don't allow it to be that easy as a phone call and a "leave today". If it were, this strong, smart woman would be long gone. Advise is not what she needs, she is more capable than any of us of knowing what to do. She needs our love and our energy to keep faith that a way will open up like the Red Sea. A way to leave that includes her children. We are working on a plan, but no prayers are too many! Please send! Thank you for making her visible! The acknowledgment will go far!
Jodi from Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
May, 17 2012 at 2:32 pm

Jodi, now your comment makes sense to me! I didn't know Nikky was in the Middle East.

Stanley Weaver
May, 17 2012 at 5:36 am

Nikky. What Kelly is saying is so true! Please listen to her. there has got to be a way for you and your children to be safe. The last time he did this and spouted LIES about you and threatened to kill would it feel to never have that again? Your children are traumatized every time this happens. How they go on without their Mum? And I also agree that you need to get yourself out with your children, get counseling, find that healthy "Nikky" that is in you! In my heart I know you are safe now. I have placed you and your children inside an impenetrable force field where no more harm can come to you. Look at the people who love you. All the people that commented on your blog and this blog by Kellie which is which is written about you and for you. You have the support! Love you, Stanley

May, 17 2012 at 5:05 am

I don't know what to say Kellie. Thank you so much. This means a lot to me as for now, it's all I can get, support and understanding. You describe everything as if you know me since very long. You know what is going on in my head. You even mentioned a thing i didn't say in my latest post but something I wrote about some time ago. Yes, sometimes I so wish he would beat and hit so that he ends the pain and torture.
Thank you <3

May, 17 2012 at 4:49 am

I've heard these same words! I knew they weren't true, but hearing them so much creates a stubborn, haunting and paralyzing shred of doubt, however tiny, that sticks. I would even suggest that it can rewire your brain, and how the limbic system responds to intimacy. This is where we struggle long after we remove ourselves from abuse. This is how we get into new relationships with another abuser. Often the next is worse than the last! Honor your intuition and your fear but remember it is a weak muscle! It needs to be used in order to get stronger. Get out. Get safe. Get your children clear. After that - get lots and lots of help, support and counseling. I have been safe for years but still struggle with self worth because my mind was unintentionally shaped by what I heard. Reaching for help means you are strong enough to know something is not right. This is GOOD. Just put one foot in front of the other and keep walking toward LOVE. It's what God wants for you, his beautiful daughter. Your children need you.

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