Are you being verbally abused?
Verbal abuse is one of the common ways an abuser oppresses his or her partner and is a form of emotional abuse.
Unfortunately, abusive relationships in a marriage or a committed relationship are very common! Occasionally, workplace verbal abuse also occurs. Verbally abusive people are to be found in all groups of people.
Healthy relationships are built upon healthy and respectful communication. And these are the kinds of relationships that you should have.
Your first step to stopping verbal abuse is to identify verbal abuse!
Domestic violence, physical abuse, mental abuse, and other types of abuse can also be present when verbal abuse is a part of a marriage or committed relationship.
Knowing the signs of verbal abuse is the first step to stopping this relationship poison.
What Is Verbal Abuse?
Every person is entitled to respect and freedom — this is an unconditional human right!
Verbal abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence all deny a person’s natural human right to freedom, security, respect, and dignity.
Verbal abuse is the deliberate use of ‘words’ to degrade, humiliate, silence, and subjugate another person.
The victim of verbal abuse is harmed in many ways, including lowered self-esteem, less self-worth, more worry and anxiety, and risk for depression.
Verbal abuse can occur in the home or the workplace. Most often, it occurs in the home between two intimate partners.
Verbal abuse — as well as every other form of abuse — cannot be justified and should not be accepted!
Nobody’s behavior or situation can excuse another person’s abusive behavior. The victim of abuse is NEVER to blame for the abuse they are suffering from!
Say NO to verbal abuse and every other form of abuse.
Not all ‘bad’ relationship behavior is emotional and verbal abuse
Not all relationship conflicts, arguments, and disagreements are examples of abuse.
Expressions of anger or unreasonableness are not necessarily abusive behavior. Only when an individual’s goal is to control his or her partner is he or she categorized as an abuser.
When you challenge your partner to be more respectful, kind, and accepting, and he or she acknowledges his or her faults and makes a sincere effort to be better, this is a strong indicator that he or she is not an abuser.
On the other hand, if your partner refuses to acknowledge his or her bad relationship behavior, blames you for all the relationship problems, continues to insult you, threatens you, or promises to be better but does not follow through — then you know your partner is an abuser!
Here are the 14 definitive signs of domestic verbal abuse
After being presented with the 14 signs of verbal abuse, you can take a Verbal Abuse Test.
Each of the following are a form of verbal abuse in romantic relationships.
1. Verbal Assault
As domestic violence injures the body, verbal abuse injures your emotions and reduces your feelings of self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, security, and happiness.
Examples of Verbal Assault:
Your partner says to you…
- You are stupid.
- You are fat.
- You are the only one who doesn’t know how to do this.
- Didn’t your mother teach you anything? Don’t you have a brain?
- Nobody likes you; you have no friends.
- You cause all our problems.
- You are worthless.
- Silent treatment — it is your fault that I ignore you.
- It’s your fault that I am angry!
- All vairations of name calling
2. Always Disagreeing
Arguing, always believing he or she is right, and never agreeing with what you say or want is another sign of being verbally abusive and in an abusive relationship. Examples of Always Disagreeing:
- You have no idea what are the best flowers to plant in our garden.
- I know you have your own ideas about how to discipline our son. However, I have told you many times that the way you are doing it is wrong! You should only do it the way I have told you.
- You pay too much for orange juice. If you shopped at the store where I go, you wouldn’t overpay!
3. Sarcastic Jokes
Some verbal abusers are very skilled at embedding insults and embarrassing comments within humor. Humor can be used as a way to camouflage the intent of the comment so that the verbal abuser cannot be held responsible for what he or she says to you.
Examples of Sarcastic Jokes:
- If every time you made a mistake, we earned a dollar, by now we would be millionaires!
- I love you by the pound. Keep it up… gain more weight… you will be more loved than anyone else in this world!
- With that new hat, I am sure you could easily get a job in the circus!
- Mocking words
4. Controlling The Conversation
Like a traffic cop who directs and controls traffic, a verbal abuser will control and manipulate the conversation and decide what you can and cannot speak about.
Examples being verbally abusive by Controlling The Conversation:
- You have already asked me the same question a thousand times.
- You never listen to me, so why should I listen to you?
- You never learn, so why should I bother to talk with you?
- I have to interrupt you because you say so many stupid things.
- Silent treatment.
The abuser vigorously ‘blames’ you for any undesirable situation. Blame is not something that should be part of a healthy relationship. Thus, regardless of the cause of an unwanted event, blaming is always inappropriate, harmful, and one more example of verbal abuse.
Examples of Blaming:
- It is your fault that I lost my job. You never support me.
- It is your fault that I cheated on you because you don’t give me enough love.
- It is your fault that I cannot find my keys. You never clean up around here.
Always minimizing your concerns and needs is a variant of verbal abuse.
Examples of Dismissing:
- So what if the windows were open last night! You are always paranoid. Stop thinking negatively and everything will be okay.
- I will not drive you to the doctor. You always make a mountain out of a molehill.
- So what if he criticized you! You are too sensitive.
- There is nothing wrong with my having lunch with an old boyfriend. Your jealousy just proves you are sick!
Threatening with harsh consequences to manipulating your opinions or behavior is verbal abuse.
Examples of Threatening:
- If we get divorced, I will take the children from you. I will prove to the judge you are ‘crazy.’
- If you don’t stop your mother from sticking her nose into our business, I will never speak to her again.
- If you don’t keep the house cleaner, I won’t give you any more money.
8. Character Assassination
Character Assassination is when your value as a person is challenged.
Examples of Character Assassination:
- You are stupid, just like your brother.
- I regret that nobody told me how lazy you are before I married you.
- If you had half a brain, you could figure it out on your own.
- You have never achieved anything of value your entire life.
- I feel I have to treat you like a child.
- Name calling that targets you as an individual
Continually expressing negative opinions and judgments about you.
Examples of Criticism:
- You spend too much money.
- You always drive too fast.
- When you eat, you chew too loud.
- You are always thinking the worst of people. This is why you have no friends.
Gaslighting is a form of fact manipulation and is a potent form of being verbally abusive. The truth has nothing to do with the subject being discussed when you are being gaslighted. The abuser tries to convince you that because you are ‘crazy or stupid,’ you don’t know the truth!
Examples of Gaslighting:
- You gave me bad advice, and that’s why we lost money on the stock market. (This never happened.)
- You always neglected our son Tom, and that is why he’s doing so poorly in university. (This never happened.)
- You are abusive, and this is why we have such a bad marriage. (This is not true.)
- I never called you a ‘bitch.’ (When in fact the abuser did.)
11. Abusive Anger and Rage
The difference between normal relationship conflict and abuse is the intent. Not all anger is abusive. However, if a person uses anger with the intent to systematically control and manipulate you, then it is verbal abuse.
Examples of Abusive Anger and Rage.
- The abuser uses his or her anger to frighten you.
- The abuser uses his or her anger to bully you.
- The abuser uses his or her anger to force you to do what he or she wants.
Raising the voice to intimidate and bully you is a variant of verbal abuse.
Examples of Yelling:
- All the above examples of verbal abuse are said in a loud and menacing voice.
- Screaming in a demanding and rude way such as; “bring me a fork or move your car.”
- Name calling
13. Male privilege
Some men are under the mistaken belief that their female partner must do whatever they want them to do. These men believe that ‘their gender’ makes them superior or entitled and that they have a right to control the relationship and in doing so create painful abusive relationships. The idea that men are from a ‘privileged gender’ is wrong — men and women ARE equal.
Examples of Male-privilege (men speaking to their female partners):
- You need to do what I tell you to.
- It is time to have sex.
- Today, you must stay home and clean the house.
- I don’t like your friend. Stop talking to her.
When a partner is shamed or put down because of his or her religion, culture, or skin color.
Examples of Racism as a form of experiencing verbal abuse:
- When I see where you and your family come from, it does not surprise me that you are so primitive.
- If you want to get close to God, become a member of my faith.
- I hope our children have my skin color and not your skin color.
- I don’t want our children to be like your family. This is why they can’t see your parents.
- Racially tainted name calling
4 steps to freeing yourself from emotional and verbal abuse
1. If you believe you are in a verbally abusive relationship, I encourage you to learn more about verbal and emotional abuse.
Take the FREE Verbal Abuse Test below to learn if you are being verbally abused.
2. Acknowledge that abuse is never your fault.
Verbal abuse — and every other type of abuse — cannot be justified. Nobody has a right to hurt you — whether physically or emotionally. Nobody has a right to control you. Your freedom and dignity is a human right!
3. Take the position that you will not accept being abused.
Unless you make it clear to your abuser that you will not tolerate abuse, the abuse will likely continue.
There are many ways to let your abuser know that verbal abuse will not be tolerated. For example, in person, through writing, or in the presence of another person. Whichever way you chose, make sure you are safe.
4. Make a practical plan on how to stop emotional and verbal assaults.
Knowing that verbal abuse is wrong and harmful is never enough!
You must do whatever it takes — no matter how much effort is required — to make sure the verbally abusive person reforms himself or herself and always treats you with kindness and respect.
Taking decisive action to stop abuse is your responsibility and your opportunity to be free and live a better life.
Consulting with an experienced and caring professional can often help you devise a practical plan to end the verbal abuse.
When possible, you should try to preserve your relationship. However, when this is not possible, there are other options.
Verbal Abuse Test
- Completely FREE
- No email is required
- Immediate results
- Private and confidential
- 15 easy questions
The Verbal Abuse Test is designed to help individuals determine if they are in a verbally abusive relationship. No email required. Immediate results. Private and Confidential
This test has been written by the author of this article, a top experienced and qualified relationship specialist.
15 easy to answer questions and Choose your answer
Verbal Abuse Test Score… what it means to you… and what you should do next
Hi, this is couple therapist Abe Kass, MA RSW RMFT.
Let’s review your, Verbal Abuse Test Score.
Keeping in mind Your Score, scroll-down until you find the range for your score. Then read what your ‘results’ mean.
0-2 points. Your relationship does not have a problem with verbal abuse. Make sure it stays that way.
If verbal abuse starts to develop, get self-help books and products or professional help to keep verbal abuse out of your family.
3-6 points. You are reporting some verbal abuse. You and your partner will benefit from learning how to speak respectfully with one another.
Doing nothing will likely lead to increased verbal abuse and additional relationship harm.
I recommend you acquire self-help books and products or professional assistance to eliminate the harmful verbal abuse in your relationship and to prevent it from getting worse.
7-10 points. Your partner is manifesting high levels of verbal abuse. The verbal abuse you have already experience has injured you and your relationship, and without strong intervention, it will likely worsen.
I recommend that you get some self-help products to learn how to protect yourself, and if possible influence your partner to behave respectfully toward you.
Each day the verbal abuse continues, the more difficult it will be to correct and reverse the emotional injures.
11-and more points. You are being verbally assaulted by your partner. The higher your score is above 11 points, the more verbal abuse you are suffering from, and the greater are your emotional injuries.
Get self-help and professional help NOW to protect yourself.
Your situation may become so bad and so chronic that your self-esteem and self-worth may be seriously injured, possibly leading to anxiety and depression.
You need to take emergency action now to end the verbal abuse!
No one deserves to be abused, and abuse can never be justified.
Respect is a human right.
It is up to you to take the necessary steps to end the abuse. Reach out for help.
Get professional help from qualified therapists.
Here are listings of fully trained and qualified relationship specialists:
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- The Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Verbal abuse is a form of emotional abuse. If you take this Verbal Abuse Test and need help dealing with an abusive relationship, learn more about my guide to overcoming abuse, The 15 Essential Facts Victims of Emotional Abuse Need to Know.
Are there warning signs that there is emotional and verbal abuse?
If the Verbal Abuse Test determines that you are experiencing emotional and verbal abuse you need to take action to stop being abused.
Know your verbal abuser CAN change for the better IF he or she wants to.
However, you must start the process to stop the abuse.
You do this when you take the position that you will no longer accept being verbally abused, that your relationship is conditional — that your partner treats you and speaks to you respectfully.
If you are in a verbally abusive relationship, you need to reclaim your human right to be treated with dignity, respect, and equality.
Are you are a victim of domestic violence or physical abuse? If yes, learn more about physical abuse and assault.
National Domestic Violence Hotline or Abuse Resource Center
Abe Kass, MA, RSW, RMFT, CCHT., is a Registered Social Worker, Registered Couple and Family Therapist, Certified Hypnotherapist, and award-winning Educator. He has a busy clinical practice in Toronto, Canada, and throughout the world using the phone or Zoom. He specializes in helping couples free themselves from emotional and verbal abuse.
After many years of clinical practice and research, Abe concluded that practical solutions requiring a focused effort of no more than a few minutes a day for very specific relationship problems were critically needed. GoSmartLife Publishing House has been created to fill this need.
A National Domestic Violence Hotline or Abuse Resource Center provides essential information for victims of abuse. Abe’s work as a relationship specialist builds upon the services provided by these nonprofit organizations. Abe provides treatments for those individuals and couples seeking to maintain their families once the abuse has stopped.