Examples of Verbal Abuse Early In A Relationship

September 4, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly


Many examples of verbal abuse aren’t easy to pinpoint, especially in the beginning of a relationship. Most verbally abusive statements are camouflaged by tone of voice, choice of words, body language, the abuser insisting "it's for your own good" and other such verbal decoys. Even so, examples of verbal abuse are easy to pick out once you have the ear for them.

Examples of Verbal Abuse: You Misunderstood Me!

Verbal abuse underlies all other forms of abuse because words and tone can be easily manipulated to mean something other than what is said. "You misunderstood me!" is an easy way out of taking responsibility for intentionally wounding someone. Early in relationships, it is very possible that we could misunderstand a person's intention. We think "my bad" and move along.

For example, early in my marriage, when my husband said something that hurt my feelings, I told him so. His response? "I didn't mean it that way, Kellie." Then he would give me a hug. He said that even his sergeants told him he needed to work on his tact. Following the excuse was, "What I really meant to say was..."

But what he really meant to say was so much different than what had come out of his mouth that I had a difficult time twisting his first statement to mean the second.

But, because he hugged me and spoke in a tone that helped me feel secure and loved, I went along with the lie. I didn't know at the time that my willingness to believe and forgive the man I loved would lead to despair.

Examples of Verbal Abuse: Word Play and Denial

Word play and denial of wrong-doing are two sides of the same coin. It doesn't matter how the coin-toss lands because both sides result in confusion for the victim of verbal abuse.

I consider word play to happen when the language used could mean two different things. For example, saying "You're such a wonderful wife!" with a smile and a hug means that you are a wonderful wife. But rolling eyes while saying the same thing means something completely different. It means, "I will tolerate you because we're married."

Denial comes into play when you question the abuser's eye rolling. You may say, "Hey, I saw you roll your eyes! What are you really saying?" But the abuser's answer is "I didn't roll my eyes! You are a wonderful wife!" It doesn't matter what you say, the abuser sticks to the lie that no eyes were rolled in the telling of your wonderfulness.

Word play and denial, given the circumstances of I love you and time, result in the victim becoming really confused. The victim knows what she saw and heard. She knows the abuser is lying. However, the victim tends to blow off the behavior, choosing to make an excuse for why the abuser behaves that way instead of calling in the chips and hitting the road.

As a related side note, the abuser tends to up the ante when he or she believes the victim is stuck in the relationship. Examples of being stuck include pregnancy, engagement, marriage, sleeping together or whatever the abuser associates with owning the victim. Most likely, the victim agrees that he or she is stuck in the relationship. However, because up to that point the victim has not been abused (enough), stuck isn't the word the victim uses.

Examples of verbal abuse aren’t easy to pinpoint, especially in the beginning of a relationship. If you're wondering if you're crazy, it's time to read this.Unfortunately, over time, confusion turns into destabilization of the victim's mind. She starts to wonder if she's really hearing and seeing what she thinks she hears and sees. This destabilization is the in the abuser needs. Destabilization of your mind amounts to brainwashing.

Destabilization of the mind is crucial to the ability to control anyone. The abuser must implant doubt in the victim's mind concerning what he or she believes and perceives. Without the victim's self-doubt, there is no way to control him or her.

Examples of Verbal Abuse You May Recognize

Below are examples of verbal abuse, statements verbally abusive men and women make. Do you recognize any of these?

Emotionally Abusive Statements

  • You're so cute when you try to concentrate! Look at you trying to think.
  • I can't believe I love a stupid jerk.
  • Aw, come on, can't you take a joke?

Sexually Abusive Statements

  • You should know how to please me by now.
  • I hoped you were less experienced.
  • Stop acting like a whore.

Financially Abusive Statements

  • You are going to nickel and dime me to death!
  • In what world does buying that make sense?
  • Fine. You handle your finances. Let me know when things go to hell.

Societal Abusive Statements

  • How dare you spread around our private business!
  • Let me do the talking; people listen to men.
  • You took a vow in front of God and everybody and I expect you to honor it!

Threatening and Intimidating Statements

  • If you don't train that dog I'm going to rub your nose in its mess.
  • I will take our kids if you leave me.
  • You're scared?! This isn't angry! You will KNOW when I'm ANGRY!

Spiritually Abusive Statement

  • Keep your stupid beliefs to yourself.
  • God will find a way to get you back, and it ain't gonna be pretty.
  • I can feel myself being pulled into hell just listening to your nonsense!

How Spotting Examples of Verbal Abuse Early Can Help

When verbal abuse begins, you may be able to nip it in the bud if

  1. your partner admits they have a problem AND
  2. he or she acts on that statement by going to individual therapy AND
  3. you hear and sense steady improvement.

You would benefit from seeing your own counselor during this process. Verbal abuse can sneak in the back door without you realizing it. A therapist will help you keep your mind clear.

But if your partner blames you for their words and actions, then the likelihood that he or she will go back to being the sweet person you fell in love with are slim to none.

Lips and tongues lie. But actions never do. No matter what words are spoken, actions betray the truth of everyone's heart. ― Sherrilyn Kenyon


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

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

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, September 4). Examples of Verbal Abuse Early In A Relationship, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
November, 7 2013 at 10:07 pm

Susie, I have the same problem myself...the text can be so TINY! Try this: Hold down the CTRL key and press the '+' key about three times. It makes the site easier to read, and it works on most every other site, too. To reverse the effect, hold down the CTRL key and press the '-' key.

October, 27 2013 at 4:22 am

Help!! I think I am in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship. I never can do anything right its something everyday he complains about. I missed a spot cleaning the kitchen, my son didn't clean off his dresser good enough, i am not an adult, I know it all so he can't tell me anything, he has threatened our marriage many times. I have been holding this together. He says now that he is stuck with me but sick of it all and that He insists that he does nothing wrong even though I have asked him to not do those things in front of the kids because his daughter will allow someone to do that to her and it will teach my son that its ok to do that. I am a survivor of verbal, physical, and mental abuse in a previous relationship. I left because he was hitting me. But sometimes I swear I would rather my husband hit me than speak to me that way. I am honestly not worried about myself although I should but more worried about my son and his daughter. I love my children and yes I consider her as much mine as can be. I just need to make sure I am not crazy and wrong. I am a Christian and I don't want to do something that is not pleasing to God but I know he never meant for me to be treated like this. Email me....I need to talk to someone who can tell me I am not nuts.

September, 26 2013 at 3:28 am

I had a friend guy that verbally abused me so bad in calling me names as stupid, dumb, whore, bitch, and all sorts of bad words. It has brought me down in a lot of ways. Somehow I strive to make it through the grace of god.

August, 11 2013 at 3:48 pm

I believe I am the victim of verbal and emotional abuse.
It started shortly after I met my husband. He was very charming. He lied to me about many things - his age, his profession, his income, his country of origin even. I did not notice it at the time because he always made it seem like he was just fibbing or was basically telling the truth. We had a lot of chemistry and when he was nice, he made me feel like a princess. He took me on vacation, out to expensive places a few times per week, and gave me nice gifts. My previous relationship was with a very cold and distant person, so I really enjoyed the attention of my husband. A few months after we got together he persuaded me to give him all my money - $30,000. He needed it for his business. He said we were going to be married anyway, so it was for us. That money was lost (along with his own money). I did not want to give him the money, actually, but he gave me the silent treatment until I transferred it. Shortly after this I realized he was getting calls and texts a lot, especially from one woman. On the very day that we got married, I came home, went on his computer, and saw that his email was left open, as was a dating site. He exchanged info/pictures/phone numbers with MANY people, and everything was sexual. He denied it (duh) then said he would stop. I spied on him several times and he continued to do it it. Finally I got pregnant and stopped spying, for my own health. I wanted to leave him so many times, but I just didn't. I think there was some chemistry, or manipulation on his side, that kept me with him. When I was 4 months pregnant, I found him on dating sites again, making fake email addresses to contact people. Long story short, I forgave him, he moved to be with me, and we had a child. His behavior was often weird. He did not work and would always go out alone. He became very frustrated, and would pick fights with me over everything. He would say rude words and try to alienate me from my family. He has used the "f" word with me, called me stupid, and etc. This now happens maybe once a week. Sometimes I just cry and cry and do not know what to do. We are now in the situation that he has his own business, which is not very profitable, and I pay the bills while also going back to grad school + taking care of our 2-year-old. He does help me, but I do not fully trust him. Whenever he is alone he watches porn. I am afraid he watches it while alone with our son. He will never ever admit that he watches porn. He deletes his computer history and denies it to no end, even when he is caught. As of now it seems he visits only porn sites, and does not actively communicate with anyone, but I found a fake email address that was made recently, as well as at least 1 email address in the contacts, whom he had presumably mailed. In addition to all of this, 2 weeks ago we got a letter in the mail that he was banned from visiting 2 local college campuses, because he had approached girls inappropriately. He denied it. I went to the college and was told that he had approached girls, but they did not give me more information. All of these details are basically about our life, not so much the verbal and emotional abuse. I walk on eggshells with him. When he is nice, he is SO nice. He loves our kid, is nice to him, will cook and bring me presents. But THEN...something happens and he is off. He will shout at me, say rude words, give me the silent treatment for hours and sometimes days, make meals only for himself and not for me (when I am working and studying and literally have no time to prepare anything for myself). After his episodes I do not even remember what happened. The last one was that he went on and on and on about how he did not want to visit my parents because my sister's boyfriend slept in the guest room, and he is dirty. I asked him to just let it go. He went on. I asked him to let it go. He was making food and asked what I wanted. I said I did not want anything. He threw the pan and said "f-ck you" and stormed out of the room. He did not talk to me for the rest of the day, even though I had an exam and felt highly stressed. So that is the gist of my story. If i were single I would run away. I stay for my son, who loves him. Also because my husband will NOT let me leave him. I cannot imagine how it is even possible. My parents think I should call the police and have them escort me out (we rent and I can leave). And then there are the days when everything is OK, and though I am never actually happy, I feel more or less at peace and think my son seems happy, and that is the most important. My mom thinks that my husband will grow to emotionally and verbally abuse my son. So far it has not happened, but I see signs that it could.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
August, 12 2013 at 6:06 am

Your husband has no choice in whether you leave or not. He can stalk, harass, and pester you, but he cannot make you return. Your parents are right - you COULD walk right out of the apartment at any time, with or without police protection.
Your parents are also right in saying that eventually your husband WILL abuse your son. Right now, while your son's mind is forming, your husband can easily control him and his thinking; when your son matures and has opinions different from dad's, the abuse begins. Despite the future abuse of your son, imagine your surprise the day your son turns on YOU instead of his manipulative, mean father - that day will come if you stay for the "sake" of your child.
There is nothing to be gained for you or your son if you stay with an abusive man. If you're worried about your son's relationship with his father, then make sure there is ample visitation time between the two. You do not have to live with an abuser in order to maintain the father/son relationship. That relationship is up to the father and son to maintain. Your mental and physical safety and health is up to you.
Marie, you were the victim of verbal and emotional abuse (sexual abuse, too). Now that you recognize the abuse, you are no longer a victim. You are a survivor. In my experience, the healthiest, safest, happiest survivors leave their abuser.

July, 23 2013 at 5:25 pm

I have been married to my husband for four years, together for seven. He was active military before I met him and was deployed two times overseas during that time. I believe he has serious PTSD. He doesn't talk too much about everything he has seen and done while serving, however he will if the mood hits him. I feel that he was never given the chance to be "untrained". I feel that once these men are done with their service, they do not get the same focused and thorough attention to acclimate back into civilian life as they did in their MOS training. If I'm not mistaken he told me he had to go to a one day class right before he was released, to get him ready to come back home.
With all that being said, I tend to look past the hurtful things he says to me. It is hard though. He degrades me often, telling me going to college was not worth the student loans I had to take out. He cuts down my abilities to do pretty much anything. He will say "you won't be able to do that" (what ever it might be), so I make it a personal goal to always prove him wrong and accomplish the very thing he said I couldn't. (Without rubbing it in, I keep my inner "nanny nanny booboo" to myself).
This evening a small thing happened, I told him that I cut myself by accident at work and that it still stung. He asked on what, with a sarcastic tone. I told him I cut it on a piece of metal. He then says, full of attitude, "what do YOU ever do with metal? You don't work with metal, that's hard work, something you don't know about."
Instead of actually being simpithetic to my totally rather unimportant statement, he chooses to be a total asshole, and belittle me. Most of the time I keep my mouth shut, But I truly believe in picking your battles, so I confronted him. I ask him why he does that, why he feels he has to belittle me with such an insignificant statement. He blows it up into something so ridiculous, and turns everything around to make it like I'm cutting him and his abilities down. He spun it to make it like he is the only one who knows what working hard is and I need to understand that. He is now sleeping on the couch, my guess is to punish me.
I do get confused quite a bit, I am unsure when to stand my ground and when to ignore his BS. It takes its toll on me.

July, 19 2013 at 2:33 am

I am a 36-year old woman, married for 3 years, no children. I am separated from my husband for 40 days now, and I would like to describe you the situation because I believe he was verbally/mentally abusing me: soon after my marriage I lost my father from lung cancer really fast, and because having lost my job as well, I was not in a good mood. At first he stood by me, but after a couple months he started blaming me for losing my job and tried to make me fight with my mom and sister over money. He accused me of not having sex with him as ofter as he would like, and when I told him, it was nothing personal but I was not in the mood because of the grief, he withdraw, put off the wedding ring from his finger, and started saying that if I continue this way, I would lose him. He also mentioned that I had gained some weight (about 6 pounds) and that I wasn't doing anything to gain him back. After that and because I was feeling sad about me, I started gym on everyday basis, and felt better. When I told him, that I was ok and was in the mood for sex, he said that now HE was not in the mood, and that I should be punished by not having sex with him, for being depressed. I continued trying to come closer to him, but he kept telling me that all that happened was my fault, and that he could have just any girl he wanted, but when he was in the mood he was having sex with me but all he cared about was pleasing him and when I once complained about it, he said that no other woman has ever complained and I should be embarrased for what I said. He was critical about me not having a job, although having an M.Sc, he implied that my family should help us financially (although we did not have any problem and my mom was already paying for my car but he wanted to sell it out) and I was also told ''that I haven't given him the life I promised him''. All he cares about is going on trips and then showing off pictures of it to our friends, and he afccused me of not having enough money to do so, because he was with me and I was broke.He attitude changed, he was critising our friends for being inferior to him, he always wanted to be the centre of the discussion, to show how special he was, at the he sees special movies and listens to special music, he wanted us to spend the day, according to his schedule, to sleep when he wanted and wake when he did. He made me phone our friends to make a proposal of getting out, and when they could not attend because they had something else to do, I was to blame and he threatened me that he would not speak to them again! The last few months he told me he had a girlfriend the one day, and the other one refused it.I was nuts..I did not suspect him, because he was home with me all the time, and nothing weird occured on his mobile phone..When I told him to seek for a marital counselor, because I could not bear this situation anymore, he refused to do so and started talking about getting divorce. I told him to file if he wanted so..He did nothing..So after making a final conversation with him, about what he wanted us to do, I took the decision to leave the house and separate..He did not call 5 days, and then he called to tell me that he wanted us to go to the lawyer. I agreed and the date was set. A few hours before going to the lawyer he called me, and wanted me to go back, I refused and we met at the lawyer's office. After the meeting he starting crying and said that he did not want things to go that way, and that we should try and go to a phychologist. I agreed, and we went to one, but he started saying to her, that he felt hate and anger for me, and that he did not know whether he could just erase that. When the counselor asked what is the reason for coming to her office my answer was ''save our marriage'' his answer was ''to see if I can erase the hate and move on, even to another relationship''..The counselor, saw us separately for one meeting and then he proposed that we should start phychotherapy each one on his own. I agreed but he did not. I told him that under the circumstances I cannot return to the house, he agreed but now he is making excuses in order to prevent me from taking my things out..I am confused..What does he want from me? He doesn't let go of me, but at the same time he doesn't find me attractive as he says..I believe that I am on the right track (getting a divorce) but he continues communicating me..

July, 17 2013 at 1:55 pm

I am a mother of a 26 year old son who is a victim of abuse. Verbal, emotionally and two times physically. He knows he is being manipulated, controlled, belittled etc. In her eyes he is not good enough, do enough, everything is his fault, she says she should just break up with him but never does. He is a person pleaser, kind hearted, well liked, wears his heart on his sleeve. She won't ever let him go. He says he is just waiting for the big fight where she ends things. Why can't he end things. They argue that they both agree that their relationship is toxic and neither of them are happy. She is the abuser, yelling, angry at him over nothing I guess this is how she can manipulate him into doing more for her or do all she expects or asks him to do for her. All in the name of making their relationship work. She never admits to any thing she has done or said that is wrong. She twists things around so well that he ends up apologizing for things he did not do or say. My god why can't he end things? Why can't he have enough self worth and respect for himself to take charge of his own happiness? All of our family (I do mean all) and all of his friends can not understand why he doesn't say goodbye. No one likes her and how she treats him. They have verbally broken up probably 8x or more over their one year relationship. She will sob and dramatically grab his leg and beg him not to leave. So he feels sorry for her and trys and tries over and over the verbal abuse just gets worse and more often. What can I do or say to help him see what a good looking wonderful person he is as many girls are interested in him. He would not have a issue with finding another girlfriend, if it is loneliness that is the problem. She just knows exactly what to say to get him back time after time. Please help, any suggestions of what I can do would help. They are not living together yet but she is pressuring him to do that soon. I lived with my father who was verbally abusive to my mom so I know exactly what a toll it takes on someone's life over time. He won't go to a psychiatrist or self help as she has convinced him that they can work things out themselves because they LOVE each other so much. As love conquers all. She always says to him ...No one knows how much we love each other, or only you can help me or love me the way you do, or I have never felt this way with anyone before, then puts him down sometimes subtly and sometimes very maliciously on purpose to control. I love my son and do not want him to go through what my mum did. Why can't he end things why does he use the excuse that he wants her to end things. What the heck? What is wrong with this? He used to have a lot of confidence, but now not so much. Help!!

July, 7 2013 at 5:39 pm

I came across this site while seaeching for information on verbal abuse (my ex-husband says he's not abusive to me) after an argument we had today. I'm currently living with him again and another roommate. He always feels like I should just hand money over to him and not ever ask to look at the bills. Today, I wanted insisted on seeing the last months bills, to accurately calculate my share of them. After disagreeing about whether or not this was necessary, things got heated and he began yelling, berating me, even followed me outside and was yelling in front of the neighbors. This pattern of behavior seems to happen every 3-5 days. He always blames me for every argument and tells me it my fault "he starts yelling". There are times he keeps me up until 4:00am yelling and screaming at me. You know what's even more shocking to me, is that all the neighbors can obviously here him and not one has ever called the police, not one. How do people just ignore this? Sometimes I feel like if just one of them did he'd stop. Financially I'm in no position to leave and have no where else to go. I'm glad I found this site, I'm too embarrassed to talk to my family or friends about the true nature and seriousness of the situation. ~depressed, lonely, stressed, tired...~

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
July, 10 2013 at 9:24 am

Lynn, you cannot count on the neighbors to rescue you. You have to rescue yourself by setting and enforcing boundaries or leaving the abusive relationship entirely. I know this is tough and it may seem impossible - but it isn't. You could apply for a mentor at to help you through or call the NDVH at 800-799-7233 for local help.

June, 11 2013 at 8:33 am

Currently getting a divorce because of verbal abuse. My oldest child is not my husbands. She is 16 years old and stating to date. He sawthe guyin front ofthe house with her, and started throwing accusations saying oh wow if I hadnt pulled up I just wonder what would have happened. We have a back door as well. If she wanted to be sneaky, I doubt bery seriously she and her male friend would be standing at the front door. But he started to call me stupid, saying she is gonna be the death of me, she is running circles all around me. In March he came home drunk for his birthday. He was calling me names. Saying its something wrong mwith me and my kids. Brought up a guy name that I was only friends with years before I met him, saying I was intimate with this guy. Now mind you, this male friend was in my teen age years up to 20. But I met my husband at age 23 I am now 32. Me and my children clean the house daily and he does nothing and still saying stuff like, "this house has no order"!! Once he came home from work and it was a small chip in one of the blinds and he woke me up all upset to ask me what happened to the blind. I told him I wasnt sure, cause when I got home from work I didnt let anyone on the balcony. He looked at me and said, " Right, you never know anything". He has said some real cut throat stuff that has hurt me and my children, and this is what has prompted me to get a divorce and I feel as if a burden has been lifted off my shoulders. I can truly say this had taken its toll on me. Talking about depression and anxiety. Zoloft became my best friend. So please ladies look and see what a person is saying to you. Its a difference between constructive critisim and verbal abuse. We can get each other through this...

June, 11 2013 at 5:59 am

Thanks for your blog on verbal abuse and to all the ladies who are telling their story in this thread. Saying it is the first step in getting out for good. I shouldn't say "out", but "forward". You are all beautiful inside and that is why you are holding on to a hot coal hoping to soothe it. These men's abusive ways will not change in the same way your caring, scaredy ways will not change either - it's a lethal combination. Your weakness is making excuses for them and failing to see that change is good, always good. I can tell you from experience, once you have left those men behind you will wonder what on earth were you doing and why it took you so long. From experience too I can tell you only a sharp cut of the umbilical cord will do - you may not ever talk to them again but to arrange legal proceedings. They have you tied around their fingers and will not let go. They love their real breathing puppets. They do not feel for you, will never empathize with your pain, no matter how much you suffer, how hard you cry. Don't waste your tears on them. Find a friend, a rope to hold - there are many, MANY people who would make it easy for you. Life is beautiful when you are in control and the abuse is just a distant, painful memory.

Denise Wilden
June, 7 2013 at 4:27 am

My ex called me a vinegary old cow yesterday, I said to him that the scabby bag he had put on the SOFA from the garden, with some wildlife on it, needed to be moved as the Mortgage valuer was coming for the people buying the house, so I got called that, made me smile as I thought only about 2 more months and I am soooo out of here and you will be on your own, living in a pigsty (he NEVER puts anything away in a cupboard) and I won't be around to tidy up after him and find all the things he loses because he can't remember where he put them

May, 27 2013 at 2:11 am

Hi, I am 26 and have been in a relationship for seven years. I had a hard time getting to the point where I could recognize what was happening to me could really be abuse, of any kind, since it wasn't something I knew much about. Well, I do now and boy am I scared. I am a slave; I work a full time job, plus overtime and do all the household chores, including litter for three cats, while being told that I am lazy, that I have no communication skills, that I need to diet ( I weigh 127lb wet) and that I need to see a doctor because I like to read books and watch an occasional move or tv show that is fantasy/scify based. I act like a child, and need to grow up, and have my priorities checked. I had previously suffered from PTSD due to an accident and was dealing with anxiety and depression issues when we met, which have been delt with since. At this point I have no friends, and I'm not allowed to make any, I'm not allowed to see family, unless I ask ahead of time, my pay goes directly into his account, and I get an allowance as I need it. He buys whatever he wants, and we are always in debt, yet both have good paying jobs. When I talk to him, he says he doesn't understand, and that I need to learn how to communicate better, or that "I have no problems talking to anyone else but you, why is that?" Yet says "I love you honey" 10-15 times a day, and calls me about the same everyday. And blames me for everything that's wrong from financial issues to his being overweight ( rediculous, since he was that way when we met, and clothes that have been washed 30-40 times the same way, don't spontaneously shrink. And my cooking is fresh and mostly organic, no fries/burgers and pizza here.) although he says he would rather eat out, and I am a proud cook, and cook delicious food, as I'm told by everyone who eats it, but him.
I have been told by family, and councilor that it's abuse, and have finally agreed, I have left before, but succomed to the "I promise I will be better this time" speach. I feel guilty to leave when we have debt, and I care for him, but when I'm not being respected as a human being, and told that I just need to clean the kitchen, and that I'm less of a person than him, what is wrong with me? I would never have put up with this before, but it started so subtly that I didn't catch it until it was too late. I'm scheduled to move into a new place this week, hopefully all goes well… and the rehabilitation can begin, right now I am so full of anxiety and fear I don't know what to do, and I'm a strong women from a family of strong women, who look fear in the face and laugh, if it can happen to me, no one is safe. Learning the signs, and knowing when to run are important, and should be taught. It could have saved me earlier. Luck and love to all those who are in my shoes, it can only get better. Loneliness is a small price to pay for freedom; and it won't last forever.

May, 12 2013 at 4:14 am

Ive been with my husband now for 4 years and we have 3 beautiful kids. I have been having trouble for a long time from the first year we were together i saw the red flags but i ignored it thinking things will get better and work out but they NEVER do, my husband has been abusing me verbally, sexually, emotionally and sometimes physically. i keep trying to make it work for my kids but its starting to take its toll on me. My husband started with small things and the abuse was now and then, but in the last year it has flared up so bad that he gets these moments where the tone in his voice is like the tone of a mad man who has hate - and then he starts to threaten to kill me, but what i dont understand is that after his lashing out verbally he comes back and tries to apologise and talks nicely but im not in the mood for talking as im hurt from all the name calling the swearing and the accusations then his anger flares up again then im to blame for why our family is unhappy. My husband has been unreal accusing me for the last 4 years of being obsessed with getting mens attention?? i dont know where this came from i hardy ever talk to anyone at church and i never go out. I told my husband one day that as a child my fav colour was purple - so since there is a man at church whon rides a purple car he has accused me ever since of being obsessed with the colour purple and trying to get this mans attention. Even if i wear anything purple or if i dress my daughter in Purple he makes a huge scene and starts calling me s**t and carrying on and accusing me of trying to get with men. If i so as look in a direction that a man is in i get accused of trying to cheat....i can never win, ive told him calmly that he needs professional help. At the moment im stuck with no job as i am a stay home mother but each day i get yelled at if the house is a mess or if washing is missed or dishes, i have 3 kids al under 4 years and its full on for me, but my husband thinks i sleep all day an he thinks im lazy and tells me im a useless mother, im lazy and tells im nothing. Ive asked him how come he is cruel to me - then he says i deserve it because he cant stand me and he hates me. If i try to leave then he stops me and so i am confused, now when my husband gets angry he threatens to kill me and threatens to kick me out of the house and says - its my house i pay the rent and i dont want you here. Then when we try to leave he gets all nice and begs us to stay. the abuse is just too much to deal with, the worst was during my 2 pregnancies where he was verbal and physical and i had so much stress and cruelty dished to me i have never felt so unloved in my life. And now my husband says that my mum warned him about me and that my mum has told him things about me, but i dont even know when my mum had the time to talk with him or whether he is trying to make me mad at my mum so that i wont turn to her for help?
My life has been hell and i just dont know what to do. People say things but its easier to say leave then it is to actually do. And when you are in an abusive relationship with kids involved then things are 100 times more complicated. My husband tells my 3 yr old daughter that im a S**T and he tells my kids they deserve a better mum and it hurts me that he swears and yells at me in front of my kids, he belittles me and really makes me feel hrrible about myself each day. If i say no to sex - its like all hell has broken loose and i cop an earful of hatred and being called every horrible name under the sun. Abuse is horrible and i only hope that one day i have the courage to walk away before its too late!

May, 4 2013 at 8:08 am

I grew up with abusive parents and married abusive men. Divorced them too. I'm on my 4th marriage and when we met I was very very careful about looking for signs of possible future abuse. 16 years in and I can see the pattern I create that causes some of the abuse. I also realize that it's not my fault and I don't deserve it but having grown up with it on a everyday basis it's hard to accept that someone that says I love you would purposely hurt you. When I'm in a relationship I do everything, give everything to the one I love. I feel it's my job to make them happy and their job to make me happy. They usually don't do their job but I continue doing mine hoping I'll "earn" the love I deserve. Spent an entire lifetime trying to earn my mother's love. After time goes by I realize they are spoiled and since my begging, pleading and or demanding they do right by me never works I give up even asking once a year for a simple compliment. My husband now had a bad childhood as did I and I thought I could make it work. I know about abuse. I've studied it and even recognize it when it's happening but for some reason I feel I can fix it or work around it because I truly do love my husband. (and mother & father). I guess what I'm saying is is there a way to stay and live with it? Is there a way to turn them around? Or a way to learn to live with it and know its not you or your fault? I can't leave my mother, although I physically left her at 18, she's still my mom so she calls & comes for visits. I learned early on I had to be at least two states away from her to be able to keep her in my life at all. I don't want to be verbally, emotionally abused or continue being manipulated but after 50 years of it I've come to realize I'm programmed in a way that no matter who I am in any relationship with I create the abuse in a way because it's what I'muse to. I have never been physically abused, that to what my mother called sibling rivalry. My brother beat me one way or another as a child and I hated being hit so I never allowed it as an adult. I never knew verbal or emotional abuse wasn't normal until my oldest children were teenagers. Please don't suggest I go to therapy. Been there done that. I don't need to be told I'm in a bad relationship and should leave. I just need to know if they ever change or if when they're getting help its going to help. P.s. you did a wonderful job advising that young girl in how to spot the abuse her father was putting her through. Giving her the tools to recognize it and understand it wasn't her but her father with the problem made me wish someone had told me those things many many years ago. I just hope she doesn't follow in my footsteps and waits until it's actually something she gets so use to that she causes it in later relationships. I believe she should tell a teacher or councilor so he would be made to go into counseling and stop abusing her now. I look back and wish someone would have stepped in and made my parents stop before it became a part of my personality. Thank you for your article. You'd be surprised at how many women don't even think verbal abuse is even abuse. Keep up the good advice.

May, 2 2013 at 1:15 pm

Hi, I am 25 years old and I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a year and a half. For the most part he usually loving and supportive. Always giving me compliments and telling me to do whatever makes me happy. Recently I have seen another side to him. The fist event happened when we went to his cousin’s house for vacation. I accused him of lying about something and he got angry and walked in the other room. I went to talk to him about it and he screamed at me telling me he wants to finish the relationship. He really embarrassed me in front of his cousin because she could hear us. I begin to cry. He later apologized and things returned to normal. In the last month five more events have happened like this. If I do something he doesn’t like he just seems to snap a bit. The other day we were having a disagreement we seemed to resolve it. I was still feeling a bit sad about it and wanted to bring it up one more time. When I asked if I could ask him one more questions about it he slammed down the remote and raised his voice saying he believe can’t believe I would bring it up again. Also, as much as he gives me compliments and always tends to joke with me about things that hurt my feelings. For example, telling me how I have a big stomach but he loves it. Or how I don’t clean good, or I should wear my hair different. I feel so confused because I am living abroad to be by him and I return to America to visit my family next month. I am starting to wonder if I am in a verbally abusive relationship. Please any advice would help.

April, 21 2013 at 6:45 am

My husband is not abusive all the time but he makes me feel worthless all the same. I work 45 hours a week compared to his maybe 20 hours a week ( but he gets paid for 40) and when I get home and want to just relax he gets mad. He won't actually say anything to me. He will wait til I'm not around and tell my 2 girls (ages 8 &5) that I am lazy and don't do anything. The over day he took the basket full of clean socks and dumped it over in search of socks. I said if your sick of doing that maybe you could fold them instead. He then yelled well maybe if you came home and did something other then sit on your ass I wouldn't have to. He gets very mad when I don't sleep with him when he wants it. He's never gotten physical and has never hurt me but he will go in the other room and punch a hole in the wall and say things under his breath. That's the worst part. If he's mad at me he will talk to himself and he thinks I don't hear him. Well I actually think he wAnts me to hear him but when I confront him he says things like that's just my way of getting it out. Our relationship has been on the rocks for at least the majority of it. We've been together for 10 years. He has a recurring drug problem. He has quit 3 times during the course of our marriage that I know of. He lies to me about it and hides it from me. Each time I have found out about it he told me it was my fault he had to do it again. He goes to great expense to hide it from me even unfriending his best friend who told me about the drug abuse. We are making decent money at our jobs but we have nothing to show for it because he spends unknown amounts of $ on drugs every week. I honestly don't know if he is using right now because he hides it so well from me and has told all his friends not to say anything to me. I have been to counseling for 4 months and she says that I should leave. It's just alot more complicating then I ever thought it would be

April, 17 2013 at 12:52 pm

I hate my husband but I am held financially hostage plus I am pregnant and threatened my baby will be taken away from me

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
April, 17 2013 at 11:04 pm

Unless he kidnaps the baby, you almost certainly will not lose custody. So far as being held hostage financially, start calling around to the domestic violence organizations and state financial assistance departments. If you leave, you won't have "his" income anymore and you will qualify for assistance (especially if you're unemployed or working minimum wage).

April, 14 2013 at 2:43 am

I need advice! I've been I a relationship if that's what you call it for 9 years. Since the start I've put up with words being said and now again physical anger. I now have a 5 year old. Who now is mimicking his fathers behaviour. When His dad swears and shouts and starts getting aggressive my son laughs and then try it with me too. I have been trying to think that maybe he will change. But now i can see my partner doesn't have any respect for me. He says its my fault and when he ask me to do something I shod just do it. Example: this morning I was inside the house cleaning and he was outside on the drive doing some building work. He and my son called me few times. I eventually went down and asked what womd they like. He said give me some water I took a bucket of water and put it next to him. he tgen saud we been clinv you where you been. i ssid ive been cleaninv upstsirs. then he just flipped started swearing in english And hus own language. the. Came you emglish bitch etc. I'm actually British born but Pakistani and he is From Europe. He was previously married to English lady who ended it after 5 years & took off with his 2 kids. I've read his divorce papers same story he is repeating with me. Now I don't want my son to grow up thinking this behaviour us OK because its not. Is it??
Sorry for all the typos I was writing this post from my phone.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
April, 14 2013 at 10:55 am

No, his behavior is NOT okay. He is abusing you and teaching your son to do the same. Your son is only 5 - you have time to teach him better, but you can't teach him better with his abusive dad around all the time.

Debbie B
March, 5 2013 at 3:31 am

HI Kelly,
I am not really sure where to turn here. I live in a very close community. I have been with my husband for 10 years 5 married.
He makes me feel inadequate, tells me I do not know what i am doing, I am a f****ing **tch. Recently we took a cruise with my family (my parents, sister + brother-in-law, and caused a huge scene, blamimg all on me....i am not sucicidal but got the first time, I just wanted to jump off the ship and be done with the misery.
I have my own small business, which I am now running from Florida because I cant bear to go home. I am from Canada so will have to leave soon, but the thought of going back is making me physically ill. He has told my family and friends I have mental health issues, which is not true, I had seen a counsellor about 2 years ago who to told me to get out of the relationship, but then my husband had 2 back surgeries and I couldnt leave him.
I may add (and very ashamed) that I am afraid of being alone, I will be 49 this year.
Can you advise me? Please
Thanks Debbie

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
March, 5 2013 at 6:10 pm

Close communities are good and bad for abuse victims. The abuser often seems like a wonderful person to everyone else; when the victim speaks out, the community can turn on the victim instead of change their perception of the abuser. So, you may want to reach out for support OUTSIDE of your community at first. The last thing you need is a bunch of old friends telling you that your perceptions are wrong! They don't know any better, so don't blame them if this happens; be aware that it could happen though.
Your husband is already setting the groundwork for your mutual friends and family to disbelieve you when you tell the truth. He's telling them you're mentally ill to diminish anything you may say.
Visit to find support near you, but away from your community. Your county most likely has a department of social services office specifically designed to help abuse victims. You don't have to be physically abused to receive assistance. Their counseling is invaluable, and I hope you take advantage of it.
Debbie, you have no reason to be ashamed to want someone in your life with you. We ALL want someone special. Being alone can be scary, but if you haven't tried it lately then you could find it is exactly what you need. Or, you could find it just plain scary! The trick is to define exactly WHAT scares you about it. Are you afraid of being physically alone? You can find a room mate. Are you afraid of being emotionally alone? Free from abuse, you will find friends who you can confide in. If you mean that you're afraid of being without a man in your life, then write down exactly what you want in a man and "he" will find you once you're free. You'll only be "alone" for a little while if at all. The support you receive from domestic violence support groups (online and off) may be enough to get you through the fear.
Sometimes our fears force us to make a choice between them, like the game "Would You Rather...?" Would you rather eat a worm or the manure you found it in? I know...not much of a choice, but it IS a choice. Would you rather be alone or be with someone who makes you consider killing yourself as a pastime? I mean, you can't tell me he CARED that you considered suicide, right? If he cared at all it was probably only to worry about what he would do without you, his puppet, and how long it would take him to replace you.
You can email me at if you like.

Em with a sore heart
January, 16 2013 at 7:18 pm

His abuse started long ago and i tolerated it because he is 10 years older than me, earns more, is incredibly manipulative and I just bought into the fact that he knew I was slut trash and I was lucky to have him. Here I am 7 years down the line and I still love and have clearly learnt nothing.
In the last month alone, I've been spit at, called a bitch, been threatened with divorce, threatened that he will take my kids away (he could do it too! I've still got cut marks up my arms from when I used to self harm after bouts of his abuse), I'm a terrible mother, I'm a whore for speaking to a childhood friend openly on Facebook, I'm only with him for the money ( for real?????), I'm so lazy that it disgusts him (always forgetting that I have 3 sons- one who just started at high school, a 2 year old and a 9 month old that need constant attention) and because I'm a stay at home mom he thinks he owns me.
I've tried everything with this man, relatiation, ignoring, laughing directly at him (I'm a whore? Well aren't you a bit silly for being married to a whore?), I've tried leaving and running away, I've tried to communicate with him ( I love you but I can't accept being spoken to like this, the hurt you're causing is making us distant). We've been for counseling where he just sits in denial of everything he does and laughs at me when we leave), we've even seen a divorce attorney who made it very clear to him that he believes I will end up in an institution if he does not stop. The broken promises of "baby I will change, don't leave" and the million false apologies are also abuse in my mind because they're just lies and more manipulation.
I have no spine and so I brush it under the carpet and keep a smile on my face for the sake of the kids. I see myself as a failure to my boys because I tolerate this and I'm so scared that they will end up emulating their dad's behavior because I'm too much of a coward to leave and give them the happiness they deserve.
He knows I can't leave, I'm married under South African law and if I leave, I'm entitled to nothing but my clothes and some child support IF he doesnt take the children from me. I haven't worked in 7 years and I only have a high school education.
Please, if you're in a relationship like mine and you have the means to get out then PLEASE leave. You don't want to end up like me; lonely, desperate for love and completely stuck. You don't need to get to my place to know its wrong. Just pack your bags and get out. They're never really sorry and they don't love you.
Do you really treat someone you love like this?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
January, 17 2013 at 4:11 am

Em, thank you for mentioning you were married under South African law. Things can be so horribly different in foreign countries! I am sorry. By chance, do you live in the United States or some other country? That would make a difference.
You mentioned marriage counseling, but that rarely works in abusive relationships. Please see a therapist on your own! If you cannot leave, then you need support. Is it possible to go to therapy without him?
Praying for you,
Kellie Jo

Kellie Holly
December, 23 2012 at 6:16 pm

Tricia, I can only tell you that children do not EVER stop wanting their parents' attention and love. They will go back to the offender time after time, just like domestic abuse victims. They will absorb insult after insult in hope of finding one instance of love.
My older son (also 19) has little to do with his father. He knows that a relationship (the kind a son wants with his father) is impossible. Even so, from time to time, he makes an attempt at reconciliation. My son tells me that he just wants to use his father's talents (as when they repaired a car together), and I act like I believe him. My gut tells me he's giving his father another chance to love him. I understand that if it is so. I also could understand if my son only "used" his father - after all, that's what his dad did to him.
Also, in your situation, dad lets the kid do whatever he wants. 19 year olds typically believe they know everything and do not WANT guidance (no matter how much we adults know they still NEED it). If he stayed with you, would he have that type of freedom?
Stay strong and stay positive. Continue offering your support and guidance. If or when things go south at dad's your son will know he has another place to go. Keep your home safe and judgment free (no I told you so's!), and when he's ready, he'll be back.
You've done nothing "wrong". You've raised your son to make his own decisions, ... Parenting is not always fair. <3

December, 23 2012 at 7:34 am

My ex husband was verbally abusive to me and especially our oldest son for 18 years. When I finally divorced him after 21 years if marriage, my son chose to live with his father. It's been almost 3 years now, and I just don't get it. Son is 19, and his father gave up parenting him years ago. So son can do whatever he wants. But he gets no guidance and no support. He had dropped out of college every semester. His father didn't speak to him for 3 months at one time. Wouldn't acknowledge his existence. If ex was playing with younger son, and older son wanted to join, he'd tell him "no, we don't want you here with us." He would punch him and if don even flinched, he'd tell him to go get his dress or pull up his pantyhose. Son has ADD, but dad refuses to believe in diagnosis and thinks therapy is a waste of time. I have a relationship with my son, but I don't understand why he chooses to live with his dad. Any insight?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 7 2019 at 1:57 pm

Don’t blame your son. I left my husband after 22 years and one of my sons did the same thing. It’s heartwrenchimg! Especially when I was the only adult in our marriage and never had help with our boys. He has your son brainwashed and I’m sure your x husbands family helps with the brainwashing, as well! All you can do is let your son know you Love him and that he’s welcome to stay with you anytime he chooses. He’ll figure out his dad is a piece of garbage one day! Look how long it took us. Myself 22 years and you almost as long. Be patient, I promise he’ ll Figure it out. And NEVER say anything in front of your son to degrade your X. That’s a no no!!!

cynthia sheffield
December, 11 2012 at 2:32 am

I had been sexually abused by three family members, ended up marrying men that cheated,lied and verbally abused me,two of which got physical...even though I did leave these men...I married a man who seemed great...then the temper came out...and

November, 26 2012 at 12:40 pm

I have experienced almost every one of those abusive statements on one form or another. They don't ever go away. Even in reading them I can hear his voice and feel the fear and humiliation as if it is now. Truly damaging.

Julie Lavoie
November, 18 2012 at 5:50 pm

And sometimes I would get yelled at by my father, that ever since I moved in with him 2 years ago, I have been nothing trouble, and nothing but a screw up to them. A screw up that messes up everything for them.
If it werent for my best friend, I would of ran away, ran away, far away.

Julie Lavoie
November, 18 2012 at 5:30 pm

Dear Kellie Hollie,
While I was working on a definition essay for one of my courses, i came upon your blog, and it touched mem that I wasn't alone. Ever since, my parents divorced back in 2004, I was a victim of abuse, mostly verbal abuse, like being called a b***ch, and being told i can never accomplish anything because im worthless to others, and its the reason I couldn't keep my job at Tim Hortons. And now im 19 years old, and living with my dad and stepmom, i feel like im being treated like a criminal, i cant get away with anything, i do my best, yet, its not good enough. Last night, my dad told, if i "goof up" one more time, he will bring me to therapy, or if not, he will give me two weeks to find a place to live, and move out. Everyday, i take just a second to think if i am really worth it? And what my meaning of life is about?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
November, 19 2012 at 6:28 am

Julie, take him up on the therapy. Agree to go. He doesn't get to tell the therapist what to talk with you about. He can suggest, and he can ask, but your therapy session stays between you and the therapist. You can talk to the therapist about how to deal with your dad, plan for your future, and decide what your meaning for living could be. Therapy is much better than moving out before you can stay gone for good, and it will help YOU even if he thinks it will benefit him.
A therapist can help you get your life together, making it possible for you to move out on your own terms and when you are ready.

October, 28 2012 at 3:30 am

Ok just wanted to know.

October, 27 2012 at 5:21 am

Hey kellie i just want to know something, are you a countcler because the information your giving sounds exactly the info my councler gives me. Im just curious.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
October, 27 2012 at 8:57 am

No, I am not a counselor yet. I mentor people who are or were abused. I educate myself about abuse, and I experienced it, too.

October, 23 2012 at 2:26 pm

Also kellie when i ask him to stop he gets louder and meaner and then i run into my run and hide then he calls me a "little f***en crybaby who should just leave the house and never come back but first pay the rent."

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
October, 25 2012 at 5:35 am

Hailey, your age makes it difficult to protect yourself against your dad's abuse alone. You are a child, a minor, and this puts you in a very different situation from a grown-up.
Your dad acts like my husband did when I asked him to stop. My husband would yell louder and make fun of me for saying that his words hurt. Like you, I left the room as he yelled mean things. Would you be surprised to know that walking (or running) away from the abuser is a good strategy to use? First, you're standing up for yourself when you ask him to stop. Secondly, you're not listening to his nonsense when you leave the room.
You are not "hiding" like a scared little kitten when you go to your room. You are protecting yourself. Do you have an mp3 player or something with headphones? When you go to your room, put them on and listen to something uplifting. You could also call a friend to talk about anything you want. You can call a hotline (like Love is Respect's at 1-866-331-9474)
Does your dad allow you to leave the house without him? You could sit on your front porch or take a walk. The up side to going outside of the house is that there may be neighbors who can see you there. Abusers do not like for other people to see them be mean.
It is a good idea to learn the types of verbal abuse so you know them when you hear them. When you can recognize a type of abuse, it makes it less hurtful. You can say to yourself, "Oh, that's my dad using name-calling to hurt me," or "Now dad is trying to make me feel small."
For example, in the statement you gave as an example, your dad uses profanity and calls you a mean name. Although he says you are a crybaby, you are not. You are reacting to his abuse, abuse hurts, and it causes tears. Crybabies cry over nothing. This is not you.
Secondly, when he says you should leave the house, he is actually reminding you that you cannot leave the house. You are a child, not a grown-up. He knows you're stuck. In abuse terms, he knows you are "isolated" and have no one to turn to. When we're isolated, we feel helpless. Your father wants you to feel helpless. Helpless people are easier to abuse.
Thirdly, fathers also know how important they are to their children. No matter what, you will always be emotionally connected to your dad. He abuses that connection by telling you to leave and never come back. That could be the most hurtful thing - thinking your father doesn't want you.
And finally, he knows you cannot pay the rent. In a way, he is telling you that "you have it good" because he is there to take care of bills and keep a roof over your head. He wants you to believe that what he says and does is normal, and you should put up with it because of all the things he provides for you. "Normal" people do not emotionally hurt the people they love on purpose, no matter what favors they do or don't do.
All of those things are tactics abusers use to keep their "victims" scared, sad, and helpless. When you know that is what your dad is trying to do to you, it may make you mad. If so, you can use that anger to block him out when he gets this way. Sit there and be in his sight if leaving is impossible, but don't let his words tell you who you are, what you're thinking, or what you're doing.
On my site, there is a list of types of verbal abuse. Go through those types of abuse or download the worksheet and begin to see exactly what your father is doing. This will be your first step in getting stronger, and help you understand that the abuse isn't your fault.

October, 23 2012 at 1:37 pm

No i havent told any one kellie holly im just to afraid.

October, 22 2012 at 1:00 pm

Im 12 and im being verbaly abuased by my dad. Any sugjestions on how i showed stop it from happening any longer? ( it started when i was 4.)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
October, 22 2012 at 4:33 pm

I'm sending you an email, Hails1017. Think of the adults you can trust (mom, aunts, uncles, teachers, best friends parents...). Have you told any of them?

October, 10 2012 at 12:53 pm

I am a 37 year old woman in a verbal and mental abusive relationship. I find it hard to leave my boyfriend because he can be so sweet one minute then the second I.say or do something not to his standards he yells or belittle me in front of his friends or family.

Johan SA
September, 21 2011 at 2:40 am

I recently read that continious fault finding is verbal abuse. Is it true?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
September, 21 2011 at 7:28 am

When someone insists that you cannot do anything right and your strengths are ignored, you are being abused.

September, 12 2011 at 6:30 am

It's difficult to explain to people that there is indeed a brainwashing that takes place in these relationships. I didn't see it at the time, of course, but here, a year and a half out of it, I see the step by step process my husband led me through to become his little trophy. You are so right in the issue of trust and that the abuser trusts only that which he can control.
Thank you for this.

September, 5 2011 at 12:08 pm

I lived with my husband for 16 years and endured verbal abuse for most of that time. I had never been around that sort of thing growing up, but I did have a "people pleasing" personality. I always thought, because he told me so many times, that everything was my fault.
Needless to say, I got out. Sixteen years is too long to have to put up with abuse. Words can and do hurt just as much or more than fists. They just don't leave any marks.
I started my own site at to talk about mental illness which can come from being in any type of abusive relationship.

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