How to stop a verbally abusive husband

  1. Definition of Relationship Abuse
  2. How to Ask Someone If They Are Cheating on You
  3. How to Deal With Divorce & a Suicidal Husband
  4. Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Husband
  5. Steps to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

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The scars left by verbal abuse in your marriage may not be physical but in some ways, they’re even worse, because they can permanently disfigure your sense of self-worth. You can’t change your husband’s behavior but if he has the will to do so, he can [Ref. 1]. Deciding that you aren’t going to take it anymore is the first step towards ending the verbal violence. [Refs 4 and 5]

Don’t Pretend Verbal Abuse Is Conversation

When your husband starts hurling insults about your supposed shortcomings, he’s not interested in hearing you explain why he’s mistaken. If you treat his verbal assault as as a form of conversation, you help legitimatize it as an exchange of viewpoints, thereby encouraging repeat performances. Tempting though it may be to respond in kind, if you do, you run the risk of escalating the situation into physical violence. Calmly but firmly ask your husband to stop speaking to you in such a hurtful and disrespectful way and if he doesn’t, walk away. [Refs 3 and 4]

Seek Supportive Advice

Women regularly subjected to verbal abuse from their husbands can easily lose perspective on their situation. Maybe I really am what he says I am, they start to think — stupid, fat, ugly, a bad mother, terrible housekeeper, etc. Before you can take steps to solve a problem, you have to recognize that the problem is real and not just in your imagination. Confide in close friends and relatives — people who know and love you and can help rebuild your confidence and self-esteem. Seek professional advice, preferably from someone experienced in dealing with domestic abuse, who can confirm that what you’re experiencing goes beyond the kind of arguments all married couples have and offer advice on where to go from there. [Refs 3 and 4]

Consider Your Options

You loved your husband when you married him and maybe you love him still. However, if you’ve decided that one way or another, this abusive behavior has to end, you need time to think, dispassionately and realistically, about yourself, him and the future of your relationship. Only you know how close you are to the point where nothing he says or does can heal the damage he has inflicted. You also probably know him well enough to guess how likely he is to agree to cleaning up his act in order to save your marriage. [Ref. 4]

If You Think Your Marriage Can Be Saved

If you decide that there’s a reasonable chance your marriage can be salvaged, couples counseling is a positive first step along the road to a healthier way of relating to each other. An impartial intermediary is capable of translating your thoughts and feelings to your husband, and his to you, while steering the dialogue in a productive direction. If your husband acknowledges the harm his verbal abuse has done, professes to be willing to change his behavior but balks at counseling, see the counselor alone. This won’t be the first time she has encountered male reluctance to discuss private matters with strangers, and she might be able to suggest approaches that make the counseling process less threatening to your husband. [Ref. 4]

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

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 the 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.”

By BGEA January 14, 2016Topics: Abuse, Anger, Marriage

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How to stop a verbally abusive husband

Q: What can I do about the harsh and hurtful things my husband says to me?

A: We are sorry to learn of the frustration and pain you have experienced as a result of your husband’s hurtful words. It is distressing to be on the receiving end of very cutting and abrupt comments that wound one’s spirit.

Some people, for reasons known only to themselves, often speak to others in this manner. Sometimes a harsh and insensitive attitude shields a person who himself has been wounded by the remarks of others. In any case, we can understand the problems you are having. Remember that God loves you, and you are important in His sight. He loves you so much that He sent Christ to die for your sins.

As you focus on the fact that God loves you and considers you precious to Him, there will be a real difference in your life. Your sense of self-worth does not need to depend on the opinion of others.

Be sure you do not act toward your husband in the way he acts toward you. It is easy in a situation like yours to do just that. But that does not solve the problem—it only makes it worse. The Bible tells us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). It also says, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4). Affirm and support your loved one in your conversations. Your example may help him to learn to do the same for you. Read also Ephesians 4:29-32.

We would encourage you to find a time when you can speak frankly (and yet lovingly) with your husband. Perhaps he is not even aware you are hurt by the things he says, and although he may not be intentionally hurting you, he needs to be aware of your feelings.

Communication is important in a good marriage, and you and your husband need to learn to share your concerns (as well as your joys) with each other. Read 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, and Ephesians 5:28-29. Many couples have found the counsel of a Gospel-teaching pastor or Christian marriage counselor to be helpful in strengthening relationships and improving communication skills.

We would urge both you and your husband to examine your relationship with Christ. Have you committed your lives to Christ? Are you seeking to follow Him? If not, make that commitment now, and learn the joy of having Christ at the center of your marriage.

When a husband and wife are truly seeking to honor Christ, they will not want to hurt each other—quite the opposite, they will want to encourage each other. As you pray and learn from God’s Word together, God will help both of you become the loving partners He wants you to be.

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

3 Min Read


So you’re in a relationship with verbal abuse and struggling. Whether you have suffered for a long time or are just realizing that the person you’re with is not the person you thought they were, verbal abuse is painful. The important thing now is that you can begin to make changes. So what can you do about it?

Identifying Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse can be hard to identify. Unlike physical abuse there are no bruises or broken bones that give it away.

However, there are always signs. Yet it can be harder to see those signs if you are the one experiencing the abuse. You may have become so accustomed to the treatment, or have been told so often that this is what love is, that you don’t even realize something’s wrong.

If you’re not sure if that’s you, or that what you are experiencing is really abuse, then read about what verbal abuse signs look like: Verbal Abuse – What’s It Look Like? Are there Signs?

Stopping Verbal Abuse

Below are 8 things you can do to stop verbal abuse from the article How Can Someone Identify and Respond to Verbal Abuse? by Cathy Meyer. I’ve included my take (in italics) on how they compare to my experience.

    Abuse is never justified so, you should never feel that it is your fault.

Guilt is a tool that abusers will use to keep control over you. If you are being abused there is nothing you have done to justify it. The behavior of the abuser is the problem, not you, so taking a stand and protecting yourself is the right thing to do.

Let the abuser know how hurtful their words are and discuss with them the fact that it is unacceptable to you. Set boundaries on what you will and will not accept from your abuser.

This is easier said than done, but it is necessary. Abusers don’t see the problem with their actions. You may need support of loved ones to help ensure the boundaries you are setting are respected.

Seek counseling, either together or separately.

Generally speaking, abusers can’t change their behavior overnight. Whatever has caused them to become abusive is likely a much deeper problem. And the emotional damage done to you can be difficult to undo as well. It’s almost certain that you will each need the help of a counselor to get back to a healthy place.

Surround yourself with a support system of family and friends. Discuss with them what is happening and how you are feeling.

This is crucial as secrecy and silence can enable abuse. Their support will help keep you strong and safe. They can also help prevent you from falling back into accepting the abusive behavior as normal by giving you the perspective you need.

If the verbal abuse escalates to physical abuse, leave. Your personal safety is far more important than the relationship.

It doesn’t take professional experience to tell you this is the right thing to do. Even though it is necessary, it’s not easy.

Do not engage in conflict with your abuser. If your spouse becomes angry stay calm, walk away and don’t give him/her what they want…a reaction from you.

Be prepared to leave if necessary. Sometimes distance is the only way to diffuse things.

Take back your power. If you react to the abuser, you are rewarding them. Letting them know they have power over your emotions. Don’t allow the abuser to have control over how you feel.

In my professional experience this can be very difficult. When you love someone you’ve already allowed them to influence your feelings. Remind yourself that abusive behavior is NOT a part of love and you deserve better. Do you best to control your emotions until you have a private and safe place to deal with how you feel.

Leave the marriage. If setting boundaries, getting therapy and refusing to respond to the abuse doesn’t work, then maybe your marriage is over. There are times when the best thing you can do for yourself is, break all ties with your abuser.

This is a last, but sometimes necessary, resort.

The most important thing to remember about verbal abuse is that its purpose is to control. The key to responding to verbal abuse is learning how to break free of the control and get your power back. Don’t underestimate how difficult this can be. In order successfully stop verbal abuse it’s critical to have the guidance and coaching of an experienced professional counselor. Don’t go it alone any longer.

This is the second article of two on verbal abuse. In the first article we looked at verbal abuse signs. Sign-up for Our Blog at the bottom of this page and don’t miss other informative articles.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 4, 2010 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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How to stop a verbally abusive husband

Although forgiveness is one the most important things that you can do for the sake of your emotional health and marriage, it is often very difficult. This is particularly true when the offense against you was great or is ongoing, as is often the case with emotional abuse. If you have an emotionally abusive husband, it is wise to seek counseling, either as an individual or as a couple. As a part of your therapy, forgiveness is likely to come up. When trying to forgive your husband, the most important thing to remember is that forgiveness is just as much to your benefit as it is his.

Remember that you have no control over his behavior, only your own. You cannot change who he is or what he has done. The choice to abuse you was his alone, and nothing justifies it. However, you have the opportunity to do something amazing and right in the face of great adversity. The desire to forgive your husband is a testament to your strength and character.

Create a list of all the wrongs that he has committed against you. Be as specific as possible, listing exactly what happened and when it happened.

Create another list alongside the first one, writing out your response to his abuse. Perhaps there were times that you responded by wronging him. Although leaving the situation or firmly asking him to stop are correct responses, yelling, slandering, hitting, manipulating or abusing him are wrong responses.

Recognize that your wrong responses toward him were offensive, regardless of the fact that he started it. Before you can forgive someone else, you must first recognize that you have also done things that require forgiveness. However, do not allow this realization to make you feel as though you deserved his abuse. Abuse of any kind is always unwarranted. Instead, take charge of yourself and commit to no longer wronging him in the future.

Grieve for what you have lost. When emotional abuse is introduced in a marriage, trust, security, affection, unity and self-esteem are all compromised. You may feel worthless or regretful about the loss of what you hoped would be a good marriage. It is alright to mourn these things, and doing so will aid, rather than hinder, the forgiveness process.

Understand that forgiving does not mean forgetting. You will always have the memory of what happened and trying to suppress it would be unhealthy.

Realize that forgiveness does not make you vulnerable. You may be holding onto your anger toward your husband because you think it will protect you from future abuse. Anger is a weak sentiment compared to forgiveness. Anger will not protect you, only make you bitter. If this is an impediment to forgiveness, practice appropriate, protective responses that you can use should future abuse occur. Instead of anger and hostility, use a calm tone and a readiness to leave the situation as your defense.

Recognize that forgiveness does not mean that things have go back to the way they were. Although forgiveness requires you to think the best of your husband, you should not need to extend your trust foolishly. You can accept that there are good things about him without giving him power over your heart or mind.

Understand what it means to truly forgive. When you have forgiven someone, you hope the best for them and treat them with respect. You do not filter their future actions through the lens of past wrongs and you accept when they change for the better. There may be times when you feel hurt by the past, but this does not mean that you have not forgiven them. It simply means that you are not done grieving what happened. Forgiveness is initially a conscious decision of the mind, not the heart. However, once you have mentally committed to forgiving you husband, your behavior and heart attitude toward him will slowly follow.

Make a conscious decision to forgive him. Remember that you are not forgiving him because he deserves it, but because you are a person of grace.

Hold all your responses to him against the high standard of forgiveness. Engage only in behavior that demonstrates your forgiveness. If you gossip about him, speak to him in a demeaning tone, wish bad things on him or hold only negative expectations, your forgiveness work is not yet complete.

Monitor the state of your heart during the forgiveness process. Are you bitter? Do you still feel resentment? Or, has your heart begun to soften? Do you feel hopeful? The farther you move along in your forgiveness, the more tender your heart will become.

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How to stop a verbally abusive husband

Trying to cope with an emotionally and verbally abusive husband can be very difficult. Abusers create an unfair playing field so they can be in control. Tactics abusers use include intimidation, humiliation, coercion and isolation. Nearly one in seven American women have experienced this type of abuse by an intimate partner during the past 12 months, according to the 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.” While there is nothing you can do to make your husband stop being abusive, you can regain some control over your life to make it better.

Living with emotional and verbal abuse can take its toll on your health and general well-being. Take care of yourself and find healthy ways to deal with the stress of an abusive marriage. Eat healthy foods and try to get enough rest. Remind yourself of your unique qualities and talents. Indulge in a hobby or interest you enjoy. Try starting an exercise routine or reading a good book to escape for a while.

Keep your support system strong. Try to maintain your relationships with friends and family as much as you can. Your husband may try to limit the amount of time you spend with others or sabotage your friendships. Tell them what is going on so they will understand if they don’t hear from you.

Learn about the dynamics of abusive relationships. Knowing more about the pattern of abuse will help you understand that the abuse is not your fault but is something your husband chooses to do. Speak to a domestic violence advocate in your community or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to speak with one of their advocates.

Set some boundaries with your husband. When he starts a verbal tirade, do not engage and try match his abuse. Psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker’s article “Signs You Are Verbally Abused: Part II,” published on the Psych Central website, suggests calmly letting him know that you are sorry he feels that way, but that you expect him to treat you with respect. If he continues, simply walk out of the room and give him time to cool off.

Prepare a safety plan. In its post “What Is Safety Planning?” The National Domestic Violence Hotline stresses the importance of developing a practical, personalized plan to stay safe while in an abusive relationship, when leaving an abuser or after the relationship is over. Even if your husband has never been physically violent, verbal and emotional abuse can quickly escalate to physical abuse. Your plan should include identifying safe areas of your home and planning an escape route. You should keep a phone with you at all times and know who you can call for help. Create a code word or signal so trusted friends and neighbors know if you need emergency assistance.

Verbal abuse has no rational explanation. Don’t waste time looking for one.

Key points

  • When someone is verbally abusive, their actions are not grounded in reason at all.
  • Responding effectively to verbal abuse first requires recognizing it when it occurs.
  • There is only one way to end verbal abuse: Call it to the abuser’s attention, and if that doesn’t work, leave.

Trivializing can be very subtle so that the partner is left feeling depressed and frustrated but isn’t quite sure why. Following is an example of trivializing in the relationship of “Ellen” and “Ernie”:

“I spent several weeks going through the papers and old household files that Ernie and I had accumulated for more than 20 years. After extensive sorting, I categorized everything and made color-coded files: Business, Medical, Insurance, Personal, etc. The result was three drawers of files in a new file cabinet. It was a long and tedious job. Occasionally I had mentioned to Ernie how the work was progressing. Finally, after a couple of weeks work, I was glad to be done. I said, ‘Ernie, I finished the files. It was really a job.’ I opened the drawers and showed him what I’d done. He said, ‘Wow! I’m impressed.’ I didn’t remember him acknowledging me like that ever before. With a smile I said, ‘You are?’ He answered in a strange voice: ‘I’m impressed with how you got those names to fit on all those little itty bitty labels.’ I said, ‘Oh, Ernie, I just typed them on. That wasn’t the hard part.’ He looked seriously at me and said, ‘Well, I think it was.'”

— Evans, Patricia (2009), The Verbally Abusive Relationship (Kindle Locations 1859-1869). Adams Media.

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

Verbal abuse can be ever-so-subtle, as Evans’ story illustrates. Yet it leaves the victim in a lot of pain and confusion. Believing in a different reality where people reason and communicate in rational ways with each other, the victim tries to make sense of his or her abuser’s treatment, not understanding that sometimes other people’s mean behavior makes no sense, has no rational explanation, and has nothing to do with him or her.

But the victim so badly wants to make sense of the behavior that he or she doesn’t put an end to it, instead continuing to search for explanations of what could have caused the abuser to treat him or her that way. The victim thinks that perhaps something about his or her behavior made it the case that they deserved to be treated badly.

Because the victim does not yet fully grasp the idea of verbal abuse—abuse at a purely verbal or mental level—he or she thinks that the abuser’s maltreatment must have a rational explanation.

So, the victim confronts the behavior, not the way he or she ought to confront this behavior, but the way he or she ought to confront rational behavior. The victim asks for an explanation, asks for examples of the generalizations made by the abuser, and asks the abuser to make sense of the abuse.

But the victim is losing. Abusers—verbal, and emotional abusers included—do not act rationally. Asking them for a reason or trying to reason with them is pointless. They have no good reasons for behaving the way they do. They will respond with more abuse.

You cannot reason with an abuser.

Few people truly understand verbal abuse. People who are exposed to it typically don’t realize that they are so exposed. And they desperately want others to behave in rational ways. They understand anger and irritation when there are good reasons for it. They understand that we don’t all get along all the time. But they fail to see that when someone is verbally abusive, their actions are not grounded in reason at all.

Responding effectively to verbal abuse requires recognizing it when it occurs and realizing that it makes no sense whatsoever to try to reason with the abuser.

A verbal abuser will define your reality, decide what you can or cannot do, and treat you as an (in-their-eyes) ugly part of themselves, a part that they have to undermine in order to keep up their own sense of self.

There is only one way to end verbal abuse: Call it to the abuser’s attention.

If that doesn’t work, the only way out is to leave, as fast as you can.

Question: I was wondering if you would comment on a husband who is mentally and verbally abusive but who is also a Christian? I know this to be true, because while I do feel that he loves me, he also goes to church with me almost every Sunday and he and I are involved in Bible studies. (We just finished a couple’s class through church actually), he has grown more accustomed to tithing with our church.

He also on occasion will comment about Christ’s upcoming return and saying how exciting it is. I do feel that he is a good person. He shows that by helping everyone who asks him. He even asks me to pray with him at night. But he is only abusive to his mother and myself, a learned behavior from his father. I believe that he struggles with anxiety/depression and low-self esteem but he refuses to seek help with or without me. He has said that he would read books or watch christian marriage seminars at home with me, and we have, but none have made him put anything we’ve learned into practice. We have been together for about 5 years now but only married for a year and a half.

So the “unbearable” I would describe as this, he is often agitated. So much so that anything I say or don’t say will set him off. This means that he will start yelling at me, telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about, that I’m so annoying and frustrating. He is a fast-paced individual and thinks that my calm – more slow nature is bothersome to him. He’s called me names like, “piece of Sh*t”. When I don’t talk to him he asks what’s wrong with me in a very ill-mannered way. Not as if he’s concerned that something is bothering me.

If I try to work things out after a fight or during a fight he often just shuts me out. Or he will just loudly interrupt with “LA,LA,LA,LA” so that I can’t talk or he can’t hear me. He has often said, that he doesn’t know why we got married, that he doesn’t know why I’m with him, that I need to accept that this is just the way he is and this is how he handles his anger. I would say that this happens at least once a week. We did go a good 6 months recently in which we were pretty happy, but I’m not sure how or why that fell away. I’m not doing anything different. I am positive that he is faithful to me. I also don’t know if he would actually ever leave me even though he threatens me with leaving.

This translates into intimacy issues as I would prefer to connect with him when we are communicating well, or when I feel respected and loved. So when he feels that I am being a little distant he criticizes me for not being passionate or “fun” enough. I do not withhold from him completely, but it doesn’t feel “real” for me and it almost makes me resent times that we are together.

I realize that you do not know me or my situation well but if you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it. I really want to do what is God’s will for me. I have talked to my pastor and he advised me that I am unable to leave the marriage. That my husband must leave. I also wonder whether or not this is actually abuse. I feel it in my heart but I’m sure there are people who have much worse? My spirit is often just crushed by him but still hopeful that things will work out.

Anything is greatly appreciated.

Answer: Hello, thank you for writing; we are sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. We have been praying about how to answer your letter. Do take what we say to the Lord in prayer also, and see if what we have to say witnesses to your spirit as well.

I would say that just because a person goes to church or Bible study, tithes, and prays does not mean that they are truly saved or right with the Lord. Only God truly knows his heart so I will not judge this, however, neither should you assume that he is saved.

Reading your letter we were not quite sure why you two lived together so long before you got married. You don’t have to answer this letter if you do not want to, but I suppose you were saved and that is why you finally got married. If this is the case, you need to repent of the sin of living together before marriage. Make sure you are right with the Lord in your own life before confronting your husband about his problems.

Another observation, just because a person helps other people does not mean that they are saved either. A person could do it for a wrong motive, or also the unsaved do good things as well thinking they are earning salvation. Again, I do not want to judge a person’s salvation, but in 1 John it says that Christians do not practice sin.

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us form all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)

Our suggestion to you—is to earnestly pray about confronting your husband about his behavior and if it does not change that you will move out and separate from him. You should not divorce him as your pastor says, because you do not have Scriptural grounds for this. However, there is nothing in Scripture that says you cannot separate, especially when there is abuse going on.

You need to, after much prayer, and possibly fasting, if God witnesses to your spirit what we are saying is of God, and that is to confront him about the abuse, then follow through with the suggestion. What you should say to him should be something like, he has to agree to go to counseling, or else you are going to move out. So the choice is his, if he really loves you and wants to serve the Lord, he must get spiritual help.

I would talk to someone, like a Christian sister in the Lord, to pray with you before you confront him. This person needs to be aware of when and what you are going to say and do, before you do it. This is in case things turn ugly. You need to have a back up plan and someone to call, or get a hold of in case of problems.

Expect that things will get worse before they get better. Yes, this is abuse you are facing and you need help, and to get out sooner rather than later. As hard as it is to do, we believe you need to give him an ultimatum; either he gets counseling help with or without you, or else you have to leave.

Again, we are not saying you have grounds for divorce, as you pastor has said, but you do need to get out of the abusive situation so God can deal with the heart of your husband! God can save him if he is not saved or else bring him out of his backslidden condition so you don’t want to divorce. Trust God to do the impossible with your husband. It does sound like he has issues that go back to his childhood that need to be resolved.

You may want to get help from a women’s shelter if you feel he will be dangerous to deal with, you will know if this is necessary. We will be praying for wisdom and courage for you as we know it must be unbearable for you at this time. God bless you and your marriage.

Emotional abuse is a pattern of non-physical behavior designed to control and demean the victim. Verbal abuse, or using words to assault and wound, is the most common type of emotional abuse. Other forms of emotional abuse include cold, disapproving looks, withholding attention and affection, physically abusing other members of the household such as children or pets, controlling household resources and establishing humiliating rules for the victim to follow. It’s important to remember that abuse is a pattern of behavior used to intimidate. A single bad-tempered remark may be obnoxious, but it is not necessarily abusive.

If you are in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship, your first coping strategy should be safety awareness. While not every relationship that is emotionally abusive becomes physically abusive, most physically abusive relationships begin with emotional abuse. Even if your husband never escalates to hurting your body, verbal and emotional abuse can shred your self-esteem and lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. If you are being abused in any way, it’s important to have a plan in place that will allow you to leave quickly if you need to. Consider going to a hotel, staying with family or friends or escaping to a domestic violence shelter. If you need help making a safety plan, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Another coping technique for surviving an emotionally abusive marriage is to avoid being isolated. Abuse thrives on secrecy. If the abuser’s behavior is exposed, he may even change his ways. Make every effort to maintain close and loving relationships with your family and friends. Don’t feel shamed into trying to hide the abuse. Tell the people who care about you what is happening to you in the marriage. Let them know how they can help you.

You can also cope with an emotionally abusive spouse by making it a point to do things that build your self-esteem. Don’t forfeit a job or an activity that you enjoy just because your husband asks or even orders you to. The more you come to believe in your own strengths and abilities, the less you will want to be in a relationship that doesn’t nurture you.

Finally, there may come a time when you decide to confront your husband about his emotionally abusive behavior. Do this when you are both calm rather than during a heated argument. Describe the behavior that you find objectionable and how it affects you. For instance, you might say, “It hurts my feelings when you make jokes about my weight,” or “I feel embarrassed when you tell other people I’m stupid. I want you to stop doing that.” Be warned, though, that abusers are not often open to change. In most cases, the best way to cope with an emotionally abusive marriage is to end it and find someone who treats you better.

Sneaky, controlling, bullying husbands stimulate their wives’ self-bullying. Stop self-bullying before you become stuck and helpless or you’ll never leave.

By the way, the tactics are also used by toxic parents, toxic adult children and bullying teenagers who manipulate their targets through blame, shame and guilt.

People who bully themselves have internal voices that put them down. You know, those negative, critical, little voices that:

  1. Tell you that you’re wrong; it’s your fault; you must try harder.
  2. Tell you that you don’t deserve any better and you’ll never find any better.
  3. Try to motivate you to become a better person by rubbing your nose in all your mistakes and failures.
  4. Stimulate self-doubt and self-questioning, and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  5. Destroy confidence and self-esteem, and stimulate depression and suicidal thoughts.

When people bully themselves with these thought patterns they hesitate and become helpless; they stay stuck because they think it’s wrong to leave or because they’re afraid to leave; they won’t stand up to sneaky bullying, controlling husbands.

  1. They think they know best about everything; just ask them.
  2. They think they’re more important than their spouses are.
  3. They think their sense of humor is correct. They can say whatever they want and their wives are supposed to take it.
  4. Everyone is a pawn in today’s game to put them one-up or to make them feel better.
  5. They think their excuses, excuse them.
  6. Their logic, reasoning and rules, rule.
  7. They think they don’t have anything to learn.

In order to control their spouses, bullying husbands try to stimulate and reinforce their wives’ old, self-bullying tapes. Bullying spouses are relentlessly critical, negative and demanding. They use logic and reasoning to destroy their wives’ self-esteem and to reinforce their wives’ shame and guilt. Abusive, critical, bullying husbands are never pleased; nothing their wives do is ever good enough. They know best and they’re right and righteous. Their spouses are bad, wrong and deficient.

You can never be kind, nice, sweet or caring enough to change bullying husbands. You’re not the rescuer or therapist to solve their psychological problems. They’re simply bullying, controlling abusive spouses.

Now, stop torturing yourself with negativity, criticism and verbal abuse. Stop predicting failure and a dark future without the bully. That internal negativity is just an old motivation strategy gone wrong by going to far and too relentlessly.

You can learn to harness that internal voice so it can motivate you to feel your best and do your best. Then you’ll have the courage, confidence and strength to stand up effectively to your bullying, controlling husband.

Don’t debate or argue with them. Don’t wait for them to agree or to give you permission. Don’t wait for them to empower you.

Take power over yourself; whether they like it or not. Convert that old, critical, self-bullying voice into a motivating coach.

Then you can plan in secret if you have to. Dump them or get away as fast as you can.

There’s a wonderful quote from an Indian poet, Nobel Prize winner, Rabindranath Tagore, “Create an isle of song in a sea of shouts.” That means not only in your personal space – around you, in your car and your home and at work – but especially in your head.

Relentless bullies – abusive, controlling spouses, as well as toxic parents, toxic adult children and bullying teenagers – are predators who go after the weak, the isolated and those who don’t resist.

If we don’t stop bullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey. Like sharks, they’ll just go after us more.

What’s the price of tolerating with bullying? Slow erosion of your soul!

The best way to stop controlling, bullying husbands is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to do your best resolutely, diligently and effectively, and to set boundaries effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create a bully-free personal life.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert coaching by phone or Skype.

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Divorce is difficult enough to face without adding the additional stress and emotion of divorcing a verbally abusive man. Unfortunately, not all relationships reach an amicable ending; many woman leave because of physical or verbal abuse. Once the marriage is over you want to move on with your life and put the past and your abusive marriage behind you, but oftentimes abusive men do not make this easy for their ex-wives. Sometimes, the only action you can take to handle an abusive ex-husband is legal action.

Step 1

File a police report to document every instance of verbal abuse you face from your ex-husband. Legally, you cannot do anything to protect yourself from your ex unless the verbal abuse you are experiencing is in the form of threats where he threatens to harm you or your children in any way.

Step 2

Request a restraining order by going to the clerk of court in the county where you live, where your ex-husband lives or where the abuse occurred. Ask the clerk for the forms required to file for a protective order. A protective order is also referred to as a restraining order or an injunction.

Step 3

Complete all of the required information on the forms. This requires providing your full name, contact information, address, social security number and date of birth. You must provide any information you have about your ex-husband as well.

Step 4

Provide details of the verbal abuse; include dates, details of what type of threats were spoken to you and police report information if you filed a police report.

Step 5

Sign the forms and give them to the clerk to file. A court appearance will then be scheduled. You and your ex will be notified of the scheduled court date and are required to appear. Here you will present any evidence you have regarding the abuse you faced by your ex-husband and a judge will decide whether or not to grant your request for a protective order.

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

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 the 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.”

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How to stop a verbally abusive husband

Verbal abuse happens in some relationships. It can gradually worsen, and the victim may not realize he is being abused. But verbal abuse is an emotional abuse and includes name-calling and threats. A person may even yell at you. According to the website, emotional abuse can lead to depression and anxiety. It can be difficult if you are in a marriage in which verbal abuse is happening. You may blame yourself for the abuse. But it is not your fault. There are things you can do to stop verbal abuse in your marriage.

Step 1

Let the abuser vent his frustrations. Do not attempt to argue with him. The hope is that he will stop yelling, and the abuse will not escalate into physical violence.

Step 2

Speak calmly to the other person. Never yell back or encourage her to blow up. Tell her you don’t appreciate being spoken to in that manner.

Step 3

Suggest a time out. Tell him you both need to walk away and allow yourselves to cool down, so you can both deal with the situation at a later time.

Step 4

Seek counseling. Counseling can help you to deal with the relationship issues. Suggest counseling to your partner as well. Explain that you want to work on the marriage.

Step 5

Call a domestic violence hotline. You may learn tips and ways of dealing with the abuse. The hotline may be able to provide you with other helpful resources.

Step 6

Leave the relationship if the verbal abuse doesn’t stop. Do not allow the person to continue to berate you. You may have to walk away. This will hurt, but may be the only way to stop the abuse.

  1. Signs a Wife Is Verbally Abused
  2. How Neediness Can Damage a Relationship
  3. About Narcissistic Men
  4. Excessive Jealousy & Possessiveness
  5. Effects of Verbal & Emotional Abuse in a Marriage

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

Most people have once gotten so angry that they have called people names or said something insulting. Those people also, usually, apologize afterward, realizing that they made a mistake. Verbally abusive people often don’t react this way. Instead, they commonly feel that their abusive behavior was justified and that it was the other person’s fault.

Public vs. Private

A verbally abusive husband may be very charming in front of other people. He may have even been very charming before the marriage. But when he is alone with his wife, he is cold, cruel and/or nasty to her.


A verbally abusive husband will make jokes that insult his wife or put her down. He will ridicule her abilities, personality, heritage, family, education or job. If his wife tells him she is hurt, he will tell her that she is too sensitive.


A verbally abusive husband’s moods and behavior are unpredictable. You can’t always be sure what will upset him and what will not.


All the problems and fights are your fault, according to a verbally abusive husband. He blames you for his anger, outbursts and the distance between you emotionally.

Threatening and Controlling

Verbally abusive husbands threaten their wives with physical abuse, abandonment or other negative consequences to get them to do what they want. Such a man wants to control his wife’s behavior, thoughts and even her hair and clothing styles.


Name calling, insults and judgments are the hallmarks of discussions with a verbally abusive husbands. These men also withhold information about themselves. They use discussions not to resolve conflicts or develop intimacy but to hurt and control you.


These husbands may leave their wives stranded at places, break objects, abuse drugs and/or alcohol or abuse things their wives love. Their anger and/or withdrawal increases in frequency and intensity as time goes on. They may “accidentally” hurt you physically, threaten to hurt you or your family and/or begin to physically abuse you as well.

By Nora Femenia, Ph.D. — Written on Apr 29, 2020

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

For a long time, abusive relationships were socially accepted. Now, it is a clear requirement for a healthy marriage to not include physical or emotional abuse.

If you do find yourself in an abusive relationship, you may wonder if it’s possible for an abuser to change so that the two of you can have a healthy relationship.

Like their fathers and grandfathers, modern men have grown up in a social context that glorifies interpersonal violence in macho culture and, in some cases, as a normal component of interpersonal relationships.

Why? Because, to some men, abuse is the key to achieving power and control in a relationship, which is the norm for them. These men don’t value being peaceful and egalitarian with their wives because it gives them no value in front of other men.

An individual man would never renounce the tool of domestic abuse because it serves the purpose of maintaining his share of power and control over the wife. There’s no equality here — just dominance.

This dominance is highly rewarded, and no man who is prone to abusive behavior voluntarily gives it up because, in their minds, it equals sexual prowess, strength, and self-worth.

Therefore, we need strong social pressure to present abuse as a non-acceptable behavior, which is punishable by law.

So, what can lead a man to change abusive behaviors? External pressure and a personal decision prompted by the wife’s abandonment.

In their individual relationships, men see the deep hurt that their violence causes and are very well aware of the fact that they run the risk of ending their lives alone because their abused spouse can leave them.

They can’t ignore the pain and suffering of their spouse, especially if she threatens to end the relationship.

Confronted with her leaving the marriage, men begin to appreciate the value of a committed relationship. It’s a powerful motivation for internal change.

In short, the husband must decide to stop abusing, and no coaxing from the spouse can replace this realization.

How can women see if their abusive man is changing?

‘Alcoholism is an illness and should be treated as such. It’s something I know about, having watched my father destroy his own life in similar fashion and die aged only 44’: Mariella Frostrup advises a desperate wife. Photograph: Dan Chung for the Observer

‘Alcoholism is an illness and should be treated as such. It’s something I know about, having watched my father destroy his own life in similar fashion and die aged only 44’: Mariella Frostrup advises a desperate wife. Photograph: Dan Chung for the Observer

The dilemma My husband drinks way more than is good for him. He turns into a horrifically verbally abusive person once drunk, saying deeply painful things, none of which can ever be subsequently mentioned as making up is, according to him, for playgrounds.

He was adopted as a child and often points out that “nobody knows what it’s like to carry that rejection around for the rest of your life”. He’s right, actually – I don’t understand. But I’ve given up standing up for myself and live in my head most of the time. We live like hermits, together 24/7, and he doesn’t go out to work, so nobody else is aware of the problem. I should add that when he’s not drunk my life is wonderful.

He’s a secret drinker and, over the past 20 years, I’ve come across endless stashes of empty bottles – under the floorboards, in the children’s dirty-washing basket, inside the loo cistern. I rarely mention it, because when he’s embarrassed it seems to unleash a violence equivalent to when he’s drunk, but I resent the fact that he must think he gets away with it, and I would like to die without having to request a headstone reading: “She wasn’t as stupid as he thought she was.”

Mariella replies You’re not stupid. Nor I’m certain, does he consider you to be. You’re just trapped in a poisonous situation and need to work out how to liberate yourself. Your husband probably doesn’t think about you for long enough to contemplate why you stick around because he’s so busy feeding, then denying, his addiction.

Nevertheless it is true that you are helping him to continue in this vein by tolerating his unacceptable behaviour. Alcoholics, like all addicts, care only about their drug until they manage to kick the habit (if that happy day ever occurs) and the inconvenient truth is that you’re married to an alcoholic. He won’t admit it, you’re loathe to say it, but you know it’s the case. It’s not a psychological disorder brought on by being adopted, or beaten, or abused, although it can be triggered by those and many other traumatic experiences.

Alcoholism is an illness and should be treated as such. It’s something I know about, having watched my father destroy his own life in similar fashion and die aged only 44. His bottles were hidden behind his books. You can’t save your man, but you can try to negotiate him toward the right conclusions, and you won’t make progress by being his enabler. There’s no role for Florence Nightingale here. The best way to bring about a change in your circumstances is to start looking after your own interests and end the abuse you are suffering, instead of just internalising your emotions.

You say you are stuck together 24/7 like two hermits. I’m guessing your children have already left home? It may be time for you to contemplate doing likewise. It certainly needs to appear on your list of possibilities.

Why are you still allowing him to behave in this manner? Where do you turn for respite? Is there an escape route, if that is what it comes to? These are all questions you need to ask and should seek support in finding answers to.

One of the problems with living with an alcoholic is that it’s a disease that affects all who come into contact with it. You may not be addicted to the alcohol that is at the root of your husband’s problem, but over many years you will have become inured to the terrible strain you are living under and blind to the possibility of a different way of life. That’s why so many organisations have been set up to help the family and friends of alcoholics. Al Anon is one of the best though there are plenty to choose from, and I advise you to make contact ( Despite the vivid description you’ve provided you are probably the last person to comprehend how intolerable your present situation is.

I’d love to say you just need to communicate with each other better and iron things out, but you can’t cure alcoholism with kindness any more than you can cure malaria with aspirin. I understand your pity for your spouse, your anger at him and your desire to cling to a tangible reason for his behaviour. But the psychological issues he cites can only be addressed when he’s sober and prepared to confront his demons in a constructive way.

His feelings of low worth may date back to his adoption, but there are millions of adopted children who don’t turn to the bottle to assuage their trauma.

There is no acceptable excuse for his inability to face up to and seek a cure for his illness. By contacting Al Anon and making positive changes in your own life, you might find your husband more amenable to seeking similar help. If it doesn’t, at least one of you will be better off.

Are you experiencing verbal abuse?
Are you allowing yourself to call it what it is?
Or, do you make excuses for it, justify it?
When you call your partner on it, does s/he say you’re too sensitive?
Do you really believe that?

You don’t set out to be in a difficult relationship, but, you’re often set up for it early in your life.

When you have lived with chronically difficult people in your early life, verbal abuse can feel somehow “normal.” That’s sad, but true. The same is so with emotional abuse, which is often far less obvious.

Outbursts, attacks, and accusations are more overt than the private demeaning, degrading, and diminishing remarks, and silent seething treatments of emotionally abusive partners.

It takes healthy doses of self-respect, courage, conviction, and strength to express and maintain strong boundaries in the face of verbal abuse. It takes that strength to clarify express, and maintain strong boundaries in the face of your abuser. Most people need help to do this successfully.

Yes, your abuser! Most people who are being abused don’t recognize it as abuse. They are so used to nasty, thoughtless, and invalidating behaviors because they are familiar from their childhood. That home life can set you up to not recognize the abuse. You have learned to make excuses, rationalizations, and justifications for them:

“S/he is under a lot of pressure right now.”

S/he doesn’t mean it. If you only knew what s/he has been through.”

I’m not a good (sensitive, thoughtful, considerate) person or I wouldn’t be so annoying, irritating, or frustrating to him/her.”

“I’m such a scatter-brain. I can’t remember things right. I’m so lucky to have someone like him/her to keep me self-aware. S/he always remembers.”

Do any of these sound like your self-talk? It’s time to ask yourself if you are actually accepting verbal and emotional abuse, while making excuses for your abuser, and rationalize and justifying unhealthy behaviors.

You have thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants, and you are entitled to them. When you recognize and validate these within yourself, you are on the way to recognizing verbal abuse and emotional abuse…and to stopping putting up with it!

You need to learn new, effective strategies to create healthier dynamics in your relationship with a Hijackal®.

Hijackals are chronically difficult people who hijack relationships, for their own purposes, while relentlessly scavenging them for power, status, and control. Bingo right? That’s what’s going on in your relationship…and making you feel small, unworthy, and powerless…and that is emotional abuse!

Most partners who end up in the whirlwind of verbal and emotional abuse don’t remember how they’ve arrived there. You aren’t supposed to fear the person you married or are in love with. We grow up believing in someone who will understand and support us with respect. When that turns, we’re left questioning ourselves.

Therapists and psychologists describe a cycle of abuse, using terms like “the incident,” “honeymoon,” “tension building” but each relationship has its own pattern.

How to stop a verbally abusive husbandAbusers seek those they can control or empower. Once the door is open, they typically use tools like isolation, intimidation, denial, criticism, and blame with breaks for either reconciliation or uncomfortable silence.

We can think of abuse as we would joining a cult. At first, the cult leaders court potential members by ensuring them how loved they are. “Nobody cares for you like I do.” Once trust is gained, the cult isolates the member from family or friends. Without a voice of reason or outside support, the member becomes dependent on the cult. Typically, cults break down their members using similar strategies as an abuser does to gain even more control till the member fears leaving and loses a sense of self.

Those of us who have been involved in abusive relationships often share we knew something wasn’t right from the start, sometimes following a whirlwind romance. There may have been signs of possessiveness and jealousy, criticism about our choices, from career to what we wore to our friends.

We thought if we made everything perfect, the cycle would stop but nothing is ever good enough. We share our feelings and fears, only to have them used against us as a battering ram during an incident. Nothing is off limits.

Abusers are crafty. They know how to balance the behavior and hide their behavior from others. They use a technique commonly referred to as gaslighting to convince their targets that what happened was in the partner’s imagination or “You’re being too sensitive.” Abusers are often narcissists, placing all blame on the other and denying their actions or words. “You started it. You have control over your feelings. If that makes you angry or upset, that’s your problem.”

Eventually, the abused partner lives in constant fear. The “calmer” times when the abuser is either showering the partner with gifts and affection or just ignoring the partner with icy silence are anxiety provoking as we wait for the next explosion, which we know is going to happen.

So, what can we do to stop this insidious cycle of abuse?

The first step is recognizing the abuse for what it is. Putting a name on something and realizing you’re not alone is powerful. Read as much as you can on the subject. Authors like Patricia Evans ( and Lundy Bancroft ( present excellent information on verbal and emotional abuse. Understanding what you’re experiencing is empowering and the first step to change.

Secondly, surround yourself with supportive people or at least one good friend with whom you can confide. Domestic violence counseling, both individual and group, can help you understand what has happened and also to strategize to make a change in your responses or develop an exit strategy should you decide to leave.

Thirdly, rebuild your confidence. Learn to love yourself again and treat yourself well. This will probably enrage the abuser because he will fear he’ll lose you but this isn’t about placating the abuser. This is about taking care of yourself.

Fourthly, change your response, not to appease the abuser but to protect yourself.

Patricia Evans says, “Generally, verbal abuse defines people, telling them what they are, what they think, their motives. The best way to deal with a verbally abusive relationship, whether you are the target or the perpetrator, is to find out everything you can about verbally abusive relationships and their dynamics. Usually one person is blaming, accusing, even name calling, and the other is defending and explaining.”

In his book, “Why Does He Do That?” Lundy Bancroft provides insight into angry, controlling men and advice for improving, surviving, or leaving an abusive relationship. Ending an abusive relationship does require a healing and forgiving yourself.

If you are parenting with your abuser, you need to come up with a new way of relating to the abuser. There will still be times when a comment brings up old feelings of flight or flight and an overbearing need to defend yourself. Take a deep breath and remember that though the abuser’s comments may bring pain, the issue is his to own. You’re strong and can walk away.

How to stop a verbally abusive husbandPart 1 of 2

Abuse in relationships can take many forms. Physical abuse is what we often think of because in many cases it’s obvious. But verbal abuse happens much more often than physical and more than many people realize.

Verbal abuse is a common form of abuse in many relationships. However, it can be very subtle and hard to recognize, so much so that often victims don’t even know it’s happening. Many will assume, or be told, that this is what’s normal in a relationship. And because of that belief wait an extremely long time before seeking help, if they ever do.

Verbal abuse is often disguised or explained away as something else, such as humor (“I was just making a joke”) or love (“you know I love you“). A skilled abuser can destroy your self-esteem while at the same time making you believe that they really care for you. Verbal abuse can also become so regular that it becomes normal communication.

How Can You Tell If You’re Being Verbally Abused

Victims often confuse verbal abuse with communication that occurs during arguing or normal disagreements. But verbal abuse goes far beyond disagreement and there is nothing normal about it. A verbal abuser seeks to control his or her partner with words and intimidation. They routinely seek to undermine the confidence and independence of their victim, causing them to question their own abilities and live in fear of doing or saying the wrong thing.

A common problem for victims of verbal abuse is that the abuse makes them confused and they don’t know what to believe – their own thoughts or the abusers’ words. Their sense of self and personal identity becomes reliant upon what their abuser tells them.

So if verbal abuse is so hard to recognize, are there any verbal abuse signs? Yes.

Below are 8 verbal abuse signs. These are from the article How Can Someone Identify and Respond to Verbal Abuse? by Cathy Meyer.

  1. Being called names by your spouse. Any negative form of name calling is unacceptable. If you feel that it is a put down, then it most likely is. There are names that are obvious and, without question abusive. Then there are the covert, veiled attempts to put a spouse down that are harder to identify. Verbal abusers love to use constructive criticism to beat a spouse down. If your spouse is constantly criticizing you, “for your own good,” be careful. This is the most insidious form of verbal abuse.
  2. Using words to shame. Critical, sarcastic, mocking words meant to put you down either alone or in front of other people.
  3. Yelling, swearing and screaming. I call this the “walking on eggs shells” syndrome because you are living with someone who goes verbally ballistic for very little cause.
  4. Using threats to intimidate. No threat should be taken likely, even if your spouse tells you they are only joking, especially if it causes you to change behaviors or to feel on guard in the relationship.
  5. Blaming the victim. Your spouse blows his/her top and then blames you for their actions and behavior. If you were only perfect they wouldn’t lose control!
  6. Your feelings are dismissed. Your spouse refuses to discuss issues that upset you. They avoid discussion of any topic where they might have to take responsibility for their actions or words.
  7. You often wonder why you feel so bad. You bury your feelings, walk on egg shells and work so hard at keeping the peace that every day becomes an emotional chore. You feel depressed and have even wondered if you are crazy.
  8. Manipulating your actions. The persistent and intense use of threatening words to get you to do something or act in a way you find uncomfortable. This form of verbal abuse is common at the end of a marriage. If your spouse doesn’t want a divorce they will say whatever it takes to play on your emotions, to get you to stay in the marriage. All in an attempt to get you to comply with their desires, regardless of what is best for you as an individual.

What Should You Do About Verbal Abuse?

Do you recognize any of these verbal abuse signs in your relationship? If so, in the next post we’ll take a look at some of the things you can do to stop the verbally abusive behavior in your relationship.

One of the things you’ll need to do first, however, is recognize and accept that you’re in an abusive relationship. Verbal abuse can be very easy to explain away, but doing so will mean that not only will things not change, but they’ll very likely get worse. Abusers don’t typically change their ways without intervention and help. And unfortunately, verbal abuse can often escalate into physical abuse.

The next thing to do is get some help. If the verbal abuser won’t get help then get it yourself without them. There are things you can learn do to change their behavior and lessen the toll on you.

If you feel that you or someone you love could be in a verbally abusive relationship it’s time to get help.

This is the first article of two on verbal abuse and signs of verbal abuse. In the next article, Verbal Abuse – 8 things You Can Do To Stop Verbal Abuse, we’ll identify things you can do to stop verbal abuse. Sign-up for our blog at the bottom of this page and be sure not to miss future articles like this one.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published August 27, 2010. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

You may not think you are being abused if you’re not being hurt physically. But emotional and verbal abuse can have short-term and long-lasting effects that are just as serious as the effects of physical abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse includes insults and attempts to scare, isolate, or control you. It is also often a sign that physical abuse may follow. Emotional and verbal abuse may also continue if physical abuse starts. If you have been abused, it is never your fault.

How can I tell if I’m being emotionally or verbally abused?

You may be experiencing emotional or verbal abuse if someone:

  • Wants to know what you’re doing all the time and wants you to be in constant contact
  • Demands passwords to things like your phone, email, and social media and shows other signs of digital abuse
  • Acts very jealous, including constantly accusing you of cheating
  • Prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family
  • Tries to stop you from going to work or school
  • Gets angry in a way that is frightening to you
  • Controls all your finances or how you spend your money
  • Stops you from seeing a doctor
  • Humiliates you in front of others
  • Calls you insulting names (such as “stupid,” “disgusting,” “worthless,” “whore,” or “fat”)
  • Threatens to hurt you, people you care about, or pets
  • Threatens to call the authorities to report you for wrongdoing
  • Threatens to harm himself or herself when upset with you
  • Says things like, “If I can’t have you, then no one can”
  • Decides things for you that you should decide (like what to wear or eat)

How does emotional and verbal abuse start?

Emotional and verbal abuse may begin suddenly. Some abusers may start out behaving normally and then begin abuse after a relationship is established. Some abusers may purposefully give a lot of love and attention, including compliments and requests to see you often, in the beginning of a relationship. Often, the abuser tries to make the other person feel strongly bonded to them, as though it is the two of them “against the world.”

Over time, abusers begin to insult or threaten their victims and begin controlling different parts of their lives. When this change in behavior happens, it can leave victims feeling shocked and confused. You may feel embarrassed or foolish for getting into the relationship. If someone else abuses you, it’s never your fault.

What are the effects of emotional or verbal abuse?

Staying in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship can have long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health, including leading to chronic pain, depression, or anxiety. Read more about the effects on your health.

  • Question your memory of events: “Did that really happen?” (See Gaslighting.)
  • Change your behavior for fear of upsetting your partner or act more aggressive or more passive than you would be otherwise
  • Feel ashamed or guilty
  • Feel constantly afraid of upsetting your partner
  • Feel powerless and hopeless
  • Feel manipulated, used, and controlled
  • Feel unwanted

Your partner’s behavior may leave you feeling as though you need to do anything possible to restore peace and end the abuse. This can feel stressful and overwhelming.

Learn ways to cope and where to get help.

What is gaslighting?

“Gaslighting” is the word used when an abuser makes you feel like you are losing your mind or memory.

An abuser might: 1

  • Deny an event happened
  • Call you crazy or overly sensitive
  • Describe an event as completely different from how you remember it

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that abusers use to maintain power and control. When a victim is questioning her memories or her mind, she may be more likely to feel dependent on the abuser and stay in the relationship.

Gaslighting happens over time, and you may not notice it at first. Learn how to get help if you feel gaslighting is happening in your relationship.

How can I get help for emotional or verbal abuse?

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

If you aren’t in immediate danger, reach out to a trusted friend or family member, therapist, or volunteer with an abuse shelter or domestic violence hotline. Learn more about how to get help if you are in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship.

Did we answer your question about emotional and verbal abuse?

For more information about emotional and verbal abuse, call the OWH Helpline at 1-800-994-9662 or check out the following resources from other organizations:

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

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Planning and preparation are key to making a new start

The day-to-day challenges of being a Solo Mom are small compared to actually formulating a plan for how to escape an unhealthy relationship. As with most challenges, the best way to plan an escape is to break down the process into manageable pieces. The steps outlined below assume that you are in an unhealthy relationship, one in which leaving is in the best interests of you and your children.

1. Assess your relationship. Spend some time assessing the current status of your relationship, the length of time you’ve been in it, and the age of your children. Keep a notebook that details all these facts, including what is and isn’t working in your relationship. If you can, run it by a professional counselor. Speak to your friends and family about it as objectively as possible. If you’ve been hiding your failing relationship from those who care about you, now is the time to reveal its imperfections. You cannot solve this alone. This step is merely a litmus test to ensure everyone who loves you and cares about you understands why you’re making the decision to take your children and leave.

For me, an extensive Google search and discussions with professionals helped me realize my spouse had a narcissistic personality and was emotionally abusive. Since I’d never encountered someone like that before, my notes about our history and list of abuses were instrumental in helping me understand and explain to others why I was making the decision to leave him. Because you are leaving the father of your children, who will probably always be in their lives even after you leave, I can’t emphasize enough how critical this first step is before proceeding further.

2. Catalog your assets. This is going to sound coldhearted, but the reality of being a Solo Mom means that you likely will have to do more with less. In your notebook, write down all the assets you will be able to take with you when you move. These include everything from financial assets to furniture. Remember that whatever you can’t take with you, you will have to replace. My first home was stocked with furniture and dishes from garage sales and thrift stores. Next to that list, create a list of all the basics you will need to make a fresh start.

3. Determine where you will live. Once you understand which assets you can take with you, the next step is figuring out where you will live. Obviously, if you work out of the home, a job will be the determining factor; however, if you work from home or are able to not work, then you may consider things such as who will be nearby to offer support. If you are very lucky, you may have friends and family who are willing to assist you with child care and offer valuable emotional support. Other factors to consider are housing and the cost of living. I chose to live in a small town in Montana, for example, because the cost of housing was so low.

4. Create a financial spreadsheet. Don’t delude yourself about the life you will be facing. Although intimidating, there is nothing like cold, hard numbers to give you a realistic picture of the road ahead. List all your expenses—everything from the rent or house payment to food, insurance, gas, utilities, clothing, and diapers. Make sure you’ve included any furniture, etc., you will have to replace once you move. Then write down what you will be bringing in for income, hopefully child support, and any other financial resources. Start your financial planning by reading this article by Monica Leftwich in the Washington Post. My parents gave me $100 grocery gift cards each month for the first year and that really helped.

5. Carefully orchestrate your exit strategy. Once you have all the critical questions addressed and a plan in place, you must determine when and how you will escape. This can be much more challenging than it sounds if you have an abusive spouse. If you think you will be in danger, it is critical that you have family, friends, and even authorities on hand the day you plan to leave. Your safety and potentially that of your children may depend on it. This means you must consider how best to let your spouse know you’ve made the decision to leave, and that will depend on the nature of your relationship. The bottom line: plan this very carefully and with your safety in mind. Next, ensure your children are ready to leave and you’ve answered their questions as best you can. My children were one and two years old, so I simply told them we were going on the ferry and taking a trip together. Because of their ages, the rest had to come slowly over time, as things progressed.

6. Be prepared for last-minute changes of heart. Lastly, be prepared for your partner or spouse to suddenly claim he or she can change his or her ways, despite the fact that you’ve spent years with the same behavior and he or she has made no significant effort. More important, be ready for your own change of heart. This is scary, and it’s a lot to take on. Only you will know if doing this is really what is best for you and your children. Ask yourself, Will my children ever know the real me? and Is this the relationship model I want for my children? If you are being mentally and/or physically abused, then the answer to those questions is no. But when we are at our weakest and beaten down emotionally and physically, the courage to move forward and break away can be difficult to summon. To bolster you when you are feeling uncertain, read this blog post in Psychology Today, which discusses five ways to end a bad relationship .

I will tell you, in closing, to take heart. The best is yet to come. I was a single mom for 10 years, and I have an unbreakable bond with my two children. One of the untold strengths of single-parent families is the unique bond forged from the challenges of facing the world alone. My children know me—the real me—not the depressed, dejected, downtrodden woman who had been robbed of her strength and spirit while with their father. They know, instead, a strong, capable, bright woman who has dedicated her life to their upbringing. That is the gift of being a Solo Mom. Much love to you, Sisters. Go forth with love and courage in your heart—you’ve got this!

If you are planning to exit an abusive relationship, join a Tribe of Sisters that’s been in your shoes and truly understands.

A fourth-generation Montanan, Andre Zollars is a former U.S. army major who has also held management positions in marketing with MCI and the Sacramento Bee. She now resides in Lewistown, Montana, with her husband, four kids, three dogs, a cat, and a horse. Andre has published in print and online publications, including USA Today Travel, Yahoo! News,, Big Sky Journal, and more. You can connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.

How to stop a verbally abusive husbandPeople divorce for many reasons. Infidelity, different goals and desires, and clashing personalities are common themes that most attorneys are familiar with. Less commonly, people divorce because they’ve become victims of verbal abuse. While verbal abuse doesn’t leave physical scars, the emotional trauma can be severe and long-lasting.

People in relationships with verbal abusers often don’t recognize early signs. In fact, many victims don’t recognize verbal abuse until someone else points it out. If you are being verbally abused, you have several options—including having a talk with a Durham divorce lawyer.

Recognizing the Signs of Verbal Abuse
When your spouse verbally abuses you, it’s often tough to tell whether he or she is just taking anger out on you and whether it’s your fault. After all, everyone fights (and many people speak out of anger and say things they don’t mean)… right?

Fighting is a normal part of marriage, and occasional meanness is something most couples deal with. However, if a pattern of control or dominant behavior starts to emerge, it might be time to talk to a Durham divorce lawyer about getting out of the relationship.

An abuser will make his or her victim:
• feel isolated or alone
• become afraid that the abuser will leave, ignore or reject them
• feel ashamed or like a failure

Some abusers are motivated by the desire to control others in order to quell their own anxieties and fears. Others use threats and intimidation in order to feel stronger or superior to others. Regardless of why your spouse is verbally abusing you, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault—it’s your spouse’s—and you have the option to improve your situation by talking to a Durham divorce lawyer.

What a Durham Divorce Lawyer Might Suggest
Talking to a Durham divorce lawyer might help you gain perspective and get a clear picture of your situation. Often, telling someone who’s on your side—someone who’s seen situations like yours before—can help you make the tough decisions you need to make.

Your Durham divorce lawyer might suggest that you consider all aspects of divorce in North Carolina, including custody and child support, division of property and how you will move on with your life. He or she will probably ask you several questions designed to help you make the right decision for your unique situation.

I have big problems with my husband, as he, after eight years of marriage, has started to complain about everything that I do. He insults me every day and tells me that the only responsibility that he has towards me is to financially support me, meaning that he does not want to give me more children (we have three, aged three, five, and seven). Also, when we got married I weighed 54 kilos. I weigh 53 kilos now, and he says that I am too skinny, so he does not want to be intimate with me. I eat normally, but the problem is that I have too much stress in my life, which prevents me to gain weight. In the interest of our children, I have made hijrah (emigration) with them to an Islamic country. My mother-in-law has been really bad with me and the children here, and my husband knows about that, but we do not have money to rent another home. I want to divorce from my husband, but he says that his condition is that I write a contract saying that I will never marry again. I agreed, but he still does not give me the divorce. I am in bad situation since I cannot get a job here and cannot take the children and go back to where we used to live because the government wants to steal our children. Being married to my husband, who abuses me mentally, and being around his mom has caused my faith to become very low, and it had never been low before. I feel like I am sacrificing too much for my children’s sake and to make my husband happy, but all he does is complain. It is impossible to make him happy; he wants to control everything and fights about small things, like where I put the bread or how I bathe the children. My husband does not give me any rights except for money for me and the children. My patience has totally vanished. He gets worse every time he comes to visit us, and his older brother and mom like to cause problems in our marriage.

May Allah make it easy for you and reward you for seeking advice, because in these issues that you are facing, it is difficult to remain focused on what is the right decision, even if it goes against your desire. In situations like this, many people focus on their immediate comfort as a solution when they cannot take it anymore, but we have to look at the outcome of decisions so that we do not regret them in the future.

From your letter, I understand that you left your home country for the sake of Allah and made hijrah trying to protect the children’s identity as Muslims and trying to live a life that is pleasing to Allah.

If that is the case and the goal is to do what is pleasing to Allah while seeking the reward of the Hereafter, you have to understand certain things in order to help you understand the advice that I will give you at the end:

1- The Uboodiyyah (servitude) and worship to Allah are unconditional for the believers. We are created to worship Allah alone.
2- The Uboodiyyah to Allah is required under any circumstances, at times of ease, at times of difficulty, being poor or rich, and also when dealing with marriage and relationships in general.
3- To achieve the Uboodiyyah, all people are tested; some with ease, and some with difficulties, and Allah, the Most Wise, knows best who deserves what. Some people are tested with matters of ease and happiness in this life; wealth, a good husband, good relationships, children, etc., and others are tested with difficulties; poverty, sickness, bad husband, etc. No one is less than the other, these are just different tests, and everyone should turn to Allah, the Most High.

Having said that, looking into your case, you need to understand that this is a test from Allah for you to do the right thing seeking rewards from Allah. Your case has two folds; yourself and your husband. As for your husband, he needs to consult a person of knowledge (a scholar). Either you advise him if he listens to you, or you try to reach out to someone who can help him and seek help and advice from a scholar or the righteous people in his town. You are not responsible for your husband’s behavior, but you are responsible for your own behavior and actions. Therefore, I advise you to do the following:

1- Focus on your faith first, that is your responsibility; repent to Allah, make istighfar (asking for forgiveness), pray on time, supplicate, wake up during the last third of the night and pray and supplicate, give charity, etc. You should do whatever increases your faith.

2- Never say: my husband caused my faith to be low; that is not an excuse. Faith increases with good deeds, and one of the good deeds is having patience. Patience is bitter and does not feel good, but it is a great act of worship. Leave the results to Allah and be patient.

3- Being patient means that you fulfill the rights of Allah in your life as well as the rights of your husband, and that you take every verbal or mental abuse from him as an expiation of sins and for reward from Allah. In other words, ignore your husband’s bad actions towards you, and focus on the actions of Allah. The action of Allah is that He is testing you through your husband, so show Allah your good patience.

4- Do not ask for a divorce now, but work on your faith, as I mentioned, and take care of your kids and husband. The more you turn to Allah with supplications and steadfastness, the more things will change, Allah willing.

5- Many women encountering similar situations like you divorce, and then they return to their own countries, where their faith changes and they lose a lot, especially those having children, etc.

6- Your husband is wrong according to what you wrote, but you are only responsible for your own actions, and Allah can change his heart if you turn to Allah alone seeking help by reciting Quran and being steadfast in the matters related to faith.

7- If you try that for some time, then you may let us know if there is any improvement.

May Allah bless your marriage, soften your husband’s heart, and reward you for your patience.

By Dr. Pepper Schwartz, May 04, 2012 08:00 AM

Q: How does one stop verbal abuse and harsh sarcasm from a mate of 46 years so the tween grandchild isn’t exposed to an unloving grandparent environment? It’s hard because I rely 100 percent on my husband for financial support. Are there assistance programs for those who are not poverty level but in fact own a small business? In my situation, there is a need for a lack of oppression, some peace and cohesive support in the home. But leaving an angry spouse, who is nearly 70 years old, is causing a lot of guilt! Thanks for ideas. — JM

Dr. Schwartz: Well, no one should take continuous abuse, that’s for certain. It sounds like this has been going on a long time though: What has made you finally want to change it?

If , however, this is all new, there might be some physical reasons for it, and I would have your partner checked by someone who understands brain issues . Sometimes major changes in temperament are an early sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s .

But if you find this is just indulgent nastiness, you can threaten separation and see if that is enough to contain the cruel and sarcastic barbs. If nothing you say or do can create a more civilized household than do move out, or get your partner to move out. That might be just the shock it takes to get some reformed conduct.

The fact that you used the term “verbal abuse” worries me. Please find someone to talk with locally – your place of worship, a family services organization, sometimes there are support groups at hospitals and senior centers, etc., all are free. If he has harmed you physically, please report it to the police immediately.

Before contemplating even the threat of separation, you should talk to a domestic relations attorney. Depending on the state, you may be entitled to some level of continuing financial support from your spouse, even if you decide to separate. Each state is different on how assets are divided.

Also, you can use the AARP Social Security benefits calculator to estimate how much you would receive, either on your own work record or as a divorced spouse who has been married for more than 10 years. If it’s going to be difficult to pay Medicare premiums and copayments, you need to check with your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to get help covering medical expenses. The local area agency on aging is a good place to go for information about a wide range of support and assistance programs available in your community.

So, you now know that your quest for peace may require some financial sacrifices and restructuring of your lifestyle. However, if you decided to leave, doing some research on the best way to end your relationship, may uncover some resources you may not have thought of. I wish you the best of luck.

Dr. Schwartz answers readers questions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Submit your questions here . Read of Pepper’s columns here . Follow Pepper on Twitter @pepperschwartz .

Divorce is an intense and emotionally draining process that can turn even the calmest temperament into an explosive temper. No one goes into a divorce expecting it to be easy, peaceful, or pleasant – but that doesn’t mean you should expect verbal abuse or harassment from your soon-to-be-ex spouse. When one spouse crosses the line from normal anger at the situation to abuse or harassment, the other can act to ensure the behavior doesn’t continue during or after a divorce.

How to Recognize Verbal Abuse

Since verbal abuse doesn’t involve any physical pain or signs of abuse on the body, it can be more difficult to recognize than other types of abuse. Verbal abuse may be attempts to threaten, scare, embarrass, isolate, or control you using words. Verbal abuse can seriously affect emotional and physical wellbeing, and it is often a precursor to physical abuse. Verbal abuse and emotional abuse go hand in hand. If your spouse is making you feel threatened or inadequate without laying a finger on you, you may be the victim of verbal abuse. Examples of verbally abusive behaviors include:

  • Yelling, insulting, or belittling you
  • Attacks on your self esteem
  • Unfairly accusing you of being unfaithful all the time
  • Getting angry in a way that frightens you
  • Humiliating you in front of others
  • Threatening to hurt you or your loved ones
  • Threatening to harm him/herself when upset with you
  • Phrases such as, “If I can’t have you, no one can”
  • Deciding things for you

Learn more about verbal abuse. Heated arguments during a divorce are common, but genuine verbal abuse is an unacceptable attack that gives the abuser a means of gaining control. If you believe you are a victim of verbal abuse during a divorce proceeding, you have the right to stand up for yourself. Seek the court’s help to rectify your problem with the help of an attorney. You can file a restraining order against your abusive spouse, preventing him or her from contacting you or your children. The judge may order your spouse to seek anger management counseling as part of a protection order.

What is Harassment?

Harassment may also occur before, during, or after a divorce. Harassment takes many forms, including verbal abuse. Harassment is when an abuser intentionally causes emotional harm to a victim on a regular basis. The abuser may call the victim repeatedly to verbally abuse him or her, threaten to hurt the victim or people the victim cares about, post derogatory claims about the victim online, or otherwise berate a victim repeatedly for a period of time. Any consistent abusive behaviors during a divorce may be harassment.

During a divorce, your spouse may behave inappropriately toward you and your children. Your spouse may threaten, stalk, or even assault you. Like verbal abuse, you can request a restraining order against your spouse to put an end to harassment behaviors. A harassment restraining order will protect you and your children from threats during your divorce proceedings.

How Harassment Affects Divorce

If you’re facing any form of domestic violence, abuse, or harassment during your divorce, seek professional help immediately. Not only will seeking help deliver you and your loved ones from a dangerous situation, but it can also protect your future. Proving your spouse is verbally abusive or harassing you can lead to him or her losing custody of children. A judge must consider the best interests of the child when creating parental responsibility arrangements. A history of verbal abuse or harassment can lead to you getting primary parenting responsibilities of your child instead of your spouse. Our lawyers are some of the best Sacramento family law attorneys around. If your divorce case involves abuse or harassment, contact us so that we can help the navigation process through this difficult situation.

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

Got a critical spouse? Is your husband verbally abusive? If so, then sadly you’re not alone. Relationships where one partner is hypercritical and verbally abusive are more common than you may realize. And it can be very hard to recognize them for what they are, even for the person in one.

Very often these relationships start off in a normal manner. But over time one partner, often the husband, becomes critical, abusive verbally, and just downright mean. The result of this kind of behavior is devastating for both partners. The good news is there are ways to deal with it and with help get things back to a healthy and happy state.

What A Verbally Abusive And Critical Husband Looks Like

Below are some thoughts from other spouses coping with verbal abuse. The following are excerpts from Carolyn Hax’s column, Return to ‘Crazyville’ — More on Critical Behavior in The Washington Post:

My mom was (and still is) very critical of my dad, and growing up with it couldn’t have helped me. Even though I can see it, it’s still hard to shake, but I’ve talked with my husband about it. He knows I’m aware of it, and trying to do something about it, and that helps with his patience. And when you catch yourself doing it, say so: ‘I’m sorry, I think that was overly critical for me to say.’ And then try to do better. Sometimes just putting it out there helps both parties.” – Anonymous #1

Thanks, I agree — admitting fault quickly and completely is a crucial part of “great communication.” Even if it’s a warning of more nasties to come — “I’m being a complete jerk and will probably stay that way until I make deadline/Mom’s out of the hospital/I kick this cold” — taking responsibility makes it clear it’s about your shortcomings, not your partner’s.

I’m dating someone who vacations there occasionally (‘Crazyville’), and I wholeheartedly agree about apologizing on the spot. I know she nitpicks when she’s stressed, and she knows I know; all I want is for her to acknowledge it without my having to say my feelings were hurt.

As someone who has broken bad patterns this way, I know the repetition of prompt acknowledgement got me to the point where I could anticipate having to apologize as I was actually doing something, until finally I was catching myself before I did it. Repetition is the best way to break patterns like this.” – Anonymous #2

My partner sometimes becomes a self-acknowledged complete jerk when his work gets stressful. He knows it, and apologizes, and I’ve learned to give him space during these times . . . to take the dog for a walk in the short term, or to plan a full weekend for myself when he is under a deadline.

But the way you describe this makes me wonder: Where is the line between forgiving jerk-ish behavior and forgiving abuse? Anything physical would be obvious, of course, but barring that, is it the intent (or the lack of intent) behind it? Or what?” – Anonymous #3

While it’s a valid question, I think it can lead you down a path of justification/non-justification that ends at a brick wall.

The question I would suggest is “Is this what I want?” Do you want a partner who unravels under stress ? When you make it about abuse, then you’re almost letting that make your decision for you: If it’s abuse, you leave, and if it’s not, you stay.

But behavior that doesn’t fit the abuse definition can still be something you just don’t want to be around, blow your weekends on, or accommodate anymore.

If on the other hand you see his moods as a small con in a world of pros, if being calm through his freak streaks is a labor of love, if you’re relieved that this flaw of his gives your flaws a little more breathing room, then so be it. You don’t owe anyone anything here except an honest assessment of what you want.

Dealing With The Abusive Behavior

What these situations have in common is that some episodes of bad behavior tend to be situation specific and somewhat short-lived. This doesn’t make them okay, however. As adults we are responsible for our own behavior, and a bad day, tough project, or otherwise stressful situation doesn’t justify treating your partner badly. No partner should accept being treated as a whipping post as a normal part of being in a relationship. So, if you’re in this situation and dealing with a critical or verbally abusive partner, what do you do?

It’s important to recognize as the first two readers examples show, critical and verbally abusive behavior can be changed. It’s hard, it takes work, along with time, patience, and persistence. But it definitely can be done — by anybody.

I believe that Carolyn’s last comments begin to drift into a murky area where we have to find the line between acceptance as a part of loving your partner and compromising ourselves so much that it prevents them from changing as a way of showing they really do love us. Additionally, Carolyn is right that abuse should not be tolerated, and far too many spouses, both husbands and wives, accept verbal abuse. However, her firm statement that you leave needs to be combined with giving your partner the chance to change.

Again, changing abusive behavior is rarely easy or quick. And it will require an agreement from the spouse with the abusive tendencies that change is needed. By learning better communication skills, and perhaps counseling for anger management , he can change his critical reactions to difficult circumstances and respond in more respectful and loving ways.

Sorting out where to draw these lines can be really difficult, especially when you’re the one in the middle of it. Seek the support, guidance, and wisdom of an experienced counselor who works with verbally abusive husbands and their relationships to help you.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published April 17, 2010 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

How to stop a verbally abusive husband

There are a number of challenges for people stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship. Foremost is that many people who are in a relationship with abuse don’t even recognize that is what is happening. And once they do getting it to stop can be far more difficult that it would seem like it should be. So one of the most crucial steps to changing an abusive relationship is to recognize how it works and traps you.

This is the second article describing emotionally abusive relationships and focuses on the affects of abuse on the victim. You can read the first article — Signs of Emotionally Abusive Relationships — here.

Emotionally Abusive Relationships Are Not Loving

If you’re in a relationship that’s emotionally abusive there’s a good chance you’ve been told that the way you’re treated is for your own good, or that it’s being done in the name of love. As a result, many victims can’t or won’t see the difference between loving and abusive behavior until a great deal of damage has already been done.

In most relationships that become emotionally abusive things at the beginning were happy and seemed rather normal. Because things may have been good to start, victims of emotional abuse can easily be convinced that they themselves are the problem and cause of why things changed. This thinking combined with continued abuse can over time cause a victim’s self-esteem and self-confidence to suffer to the point of becoming nonexistent. This leaves them dependent on their abusive partner for validation and any sense of worth, while questioning their own instincts and decision making. This level of self-doubt makes it very hard to set the boundaries vital to a healthy relationship, seek help, or even leave.

Below are excerpts from the article Expert Advice on Surviving Abuse written by Steven Stosny, Ph.D. who appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Keep in mind that although Stosny uses male labels (husband/man) for the abuser and female ones for the victim (wife/woman), they are interchangeable because men as well as women can be victims of emotional abuse. In my counseling for men I work all of the time with men who are the victims as well as abusers.

Can you see yourself, or someone you know, in these descriptions?

  • Whether overt or silent, all forms of abuse are failures of compassion; he stops caring about how you feel. Compassion is the lifeblood of marriage and failure of compassion is the heart disease.
  • It actually would be less hurtful if your husband never cared about how you felt. But when you were falling in love, he cared a great deal. So now it feels like betrayal when he doesn’t care or try to understand. It feels like he’s not the person you married.
  • The most insidious aspect of abuse is not the obvious nervous reactions to shouting, name-calling, criticism or other demeaning behavior. It’s the adaptations you make to try to prevent those painful episodes. Many women engage in constant self-editing and self-criticism to keep from “pushing his buttons.” Emotionally abused women can second guess themselves so much that they can lose themselves in a deep hole.
  • Only a handful of the more than 4,000 angry and abusive men I have treated sought help on their own, without their wives or the courts pressuring them. That’s because their addiction to blame makes them think that they are merely reacting to everybody else.
  • The hard fact is, you may have to leave your husband to motivate him to change. If he is violent or threatens violence, call the police or file for a civil protection order (most communities have domestic violence hotlines to help you). Leaving or calling the police may seem drastic, but they are the most compassionate things you can do. Your tough-love demands are likely to be the only way to help him stop the behavior that makes him lose his humanity as he harms you and your children.
  • The vast majority of angry and emotionally abusive men can change, says Dr. Steven Stosny, if they have the courage to give up blame and do the hard work of recovery.

What To Do If You Are The Victim Of Emotional Abuse

Most people in an abusive relationship feel trapped. Breaking the cycle of abuse can be difficult, especially if you’re in a place where you no longer trust your own thoughts and feelings. It’s important to remember, however, that if you’re being abused in any way it’s not your fault, despite what you may have been told. Your partner needs to take responsibility for their wrong behavior, while your responsibility is to change how you influence, enable and accept it.

People in emotionally abusive relationships need to relearn what healthy respect and love in a relationship looks and feels like. This will require them to believe they deserve to be treated well and begin to set boundaries with their abusive partner on what is and isn’t acceptable. It’s possible for an abuser to change, but in order to do that the victim will need to do so as well.

The change needed may be in being willing to walk away if your requests to be treated respectfully and efforts to enforce those boundaries are not honored. This can be a lengthy process, but if there truly is love in the relationship or it can be reignited then the outcome can be successful. Staying consistent in your expectations of appropriate treatment and refusal to no longer be mistreated is crucial to this success, however.

If you think you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship – or one that has verbal abuse, mental or psychological abuse, spousal or partner abuse – or if your own behavior could possibly be abusive, get some professional help from an expert counselor and learn how to make it stop.

This is the second article of two examining emotional abuse. In the first article we examined the pattern of abuse. You can read the first article here: Signs of Emotionally Abusive Relationships. Sign-up for our blog at the bottom of this page and be sure you don’t miss more articles like this.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published March 21, 2010 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Posted in Family Law on November 18, 2019

Physical abuse is not the only type that could cause irrevocable harm to your relationship. Emotional, mental and verbal abuse can just as easily cause a permanent rift. Abuse of any kind could greatly impact your marriage. It may be the reason you file for divorce in Colorado. If you are suffering verbal and/or emotional abuse and wish to divorce your spouse, take the following steps to do so safely and effectively.

Document Your Experience

Although Colorado is a no-fault state, meaning you will not have to prove your spouse is verbally or emotionally abusive, documenting what is happening could help you in other ways. If the nonphysical abuse turns violent, for example, you will have proof to show the police during a criminal case against your spouse. Even if your partner never gets physically violent, documenting incidents of nonphysical abuse could be helpful. Proof of abuse may show a judge, for example, that your spouse is not a sound parent during a divorce case. Never put your safety or that of your loved ones at risk, however, in trying to get proof of abuse.

Tell Someone

The most important thing to do as the victim of verbal or emotional abuse is to talk to someone you can trust for assistance out of your situation. Call a national hotline such as 1 (800) 799-7233 if you have no trusted friends or family members who can help. A representative can walk you through the steps of safely getting out of your abusive relationship. If your spouse becomes physically violent, take immediate action. Call the police, if necessary, to protect yourself. You can also contact a domestic violence relief center near you for advice and/or safe shelter.

File for Divorce

If you wish to leave your verbally or emotionally abusive spouse, file for divorce in Colorado. You must cite an irretrievably broken marriage for the courts to hear your divorce petition. If your spouse assents that your marriage is irretrievably broken, the courts will grant the divorce petition. If your spouse does not respond, the courts will take it as assent. Should your spouse refute that the marriage is irretrievably broken, your lawyer may be able to help you prove otherwise, with or without a trial. It will be your spouse’s burden to challenge your assertion with evidence. A lawyer can defend your stance to help you proceed with a divorce.

Navigate the Elements of Your Divorce

Verbal and emotional abuse may impact your Colorado divorce case. Even though you cannot list it as the reason for your split, the courts may still take any type of abuse into consideration when making decisions about marital property, child custody, child support, and alimony. Despite Colorado’s no-fault laws, verbal or emotional abuse could impact elements of your case.

  • Child custody. The standard a judge will use when deciding child custody is the child’s best interests. A judge will consider one parent’s history of verbal or emotional abuse when determining what is best for the child in a custody matter.
  • Marital property. If abuse contributed to issues such as your being unable to keep a job, this could lead to a judge awarding you the greater share of marital assets. Colorado is an equitable distribution state, meaning the courts will decide what is fair for each spouse according to the situation.

Child custody is the greatest area of a divorce verbal or emotional abuse can affect. Proof that your spouse abused you in any way could convince a judge to rule in your favor during a custody battle. A child support lawyer could also help lead to a child support order if you receive primary custody of your child. A lawyer can help you work through all the aspects of your divorce case, including navigating how verbal or emotional abuse might affect things.