Verbal abuse might be difficult to detect, but if you are part of a marriage where your partner is constantly accusing, blaming, yelling, and you’re constantly defending and explaining yourself, well, that’s verbal abuse and definitely not a healthy marriage. Basically, it’s a disinformation told to you, or about you. According to Dr. Hawkins, verbal abuse happens in too many marriages, whether you want to admit it or not, with these being the most common patterns:
– Attacks on personal character
– Playing the victim
– Criticism that is harsh and undeserving
– Sarcasm and twisting what you say
– Shame and judging
It’s hard accepting you’re being abused by your partner, whether it’s your husband or wife. Once they’ve cared about you and now it’s just waiting for the next verbal assault to happen. But love doesn’t fade away even if that’s what you want the most. And it’s not the person’s actions that hurt the most, it’s the love. You even start blaming yourself, because that’s what abusers do, they turn the situation to make it look like they’re actually the victim. And then when you start believing it, it’s because of a lack of communication, according to Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker.
But verbal abuse has nothing to do with the lack of communication and has everything to do with the other partner wanting to be in charge. The only thing lacking here is the women’s confidence, and that’s what is stopping them from leaving. Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker claims women are too scared or insecure to walk out of their marriages because they’ve been worn out over time, and that’s why they stay with partners who belittle them. This does not necessarily mean the victim is always a woman – it can be the other way around.
Over and over, the victim starts making endless excuses for their partner’s behavior, and that’s a grave mistake. Tolerating your partner’s abusive behavior only encourages it. According to Dr. Hartwell-Walker, in these cases, it’s best if you keep in mind:
1. To set limits
Assuming that your partner starts calling you names, yells at you and treats you with disrespect – tell them you won’t tolerate abuse, tell them to treat you the way they would treat someone they value, and tell them to stop the conversation or else you’ll leave the room. If your partner doesn’t calm down, leave the room and say that you’ll be back and you’re just giving them space to reflect on their behavior.
2. Stop thinking you can change them
Unfortunately, you can’t. Not without intervention, at least. It may be a personality disorder, insecurity, or it’s just the way they are, but no matter what, you can’t change them unless they want to. And by changing we don’t mean them being sorry for their actions, nor making promises they can’t keep, but change, as in change their character.
3. Surround yourself with people who support you
Discuss what’s happening to you with other people, friends or family, and let them know how you’re feeling. But remember people who say “You’re making more of this than it is,” or make any other remark claiming the abuser is a nice person, are definitely not supporting you, according to HealthyPlace.
4. Get counseling if you think you can save your marriage
If you’ve tried everything and you still don’t have a loving and mutually supportive relationship, going to see a couples therapist would be ideal. And if somehow you can’t convince your partner to join you and they keep saying you’re the only one who needs help, then go alone because you indeed need help and support.
5. Leave the marriage
According to Cathy Meyer, if setting limits, going to therapy, and refusing to respond to the abuse is not working, think about getting a divorce. You don’t have to live with your abuser, and if you decide to separate, hire an attorney that is familiar with domestic violence cases. During this time, stay with people who support you.
You can’t explain verbal abuse, says Berit Brogaard. It usually is so subtle, yet it leaves the victim confused and in pain, trying to make sense of their partner’s behavior. But what people fail to understand is that the abuser’s behavior has nothing to do with the victim. Another thing victims fail to do is admit they’re exposed to abuse. That’s why they’re constantly trying to find an explanation for every behavior – an explanation that will never be found.
See also: Signs You’re Experiencing Verbal Abuse