How to deal with a verbal abuse husband

How to Handle Verbal Abuse in Your Relationship

Verbal abuse can be difficult to identify and, regrettably, it can also be a common type of abuse in some relationships. Masters of manipulation, verbal abusers can damage your self-esteem while simultaneously appearing to care deeply for you. The use of words to punish is a very covert attempt to control, and regardless of how loving your spouse may appear to be, verbal abuse is insidious—and can be as harmful as physical abuse.

What Is Verbal Abuse?

Verbal abuse is an act of violence with speech, which can include forcefully criticizing, insulting, or denouncing another person.

"Verbal abuse can be any way a partner uses their language to exert control in the relationship," says Amelia Peck, a licensed marriage and family therapist. "It can be speech that is used to make a partner feel less valued or important in the relationship." Verbal abuse often targets someone's insecurities, but it can vary in form, ranging from shouting and humiliation to more subtle and manipulative tactics.

Meet the Expert

Amelia Peck is a licensed marriage and family therapist with 10 years of experience. She offers online therapy services for clients based in New York and California.

Physical abuse is easily identifiable. There is no doubt that if you've been hit or injured by your partner, you have been abused. Verbal abuse is different. The damage is internal, and there are no physical bruises or scars—just a wounded spirit. While both can have long-term effects like low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and more, emotional abuse can be difficult to define without knowing the signs.

If you're concerned that you may be experiencing verbal abuse, read on to learn about signs to watch out for in your relationship.

Common Signs of Verbal Abuse

They Call You Names

Negative name-calling is a sign of verbal abuse. If the name feels like a put-down to you, it likely was meant to be. Some names are unquestionably abusive, while others are more like backhanded compliments. These can be harder to identify—but trust your gut. Verbal abusers often use "constructive" criticism to negatively affect their partner's self-esteem. "Generally speaking, verbal abusers use their words to target insecurities and feelings of shame in their partners," says Peck.

If your spouse is constantly criticizing you “for your own good,” consider it a red flag. This is the most insidious form of verbal abuse.

They Put You Down

Critical, sarcastic, or mocking words that are meant to put you down (either alone or in front of other people) are a type of abuse. These may be comments about the way you dress, how you talk, or your intelligence. Any comments that make you feel inferior or ashamed are often intentional by the abuser. "When a partner is verbally abusive, they do not have equality in the relationship at the center of their values," says Peck. "They work to make their partner feel 'less-than' to gain a sense of power in the relationship." 

They Raise Their Voice

When a spouse resorts to yelling without much provocation, you may be understandably worried that anything you say will set them off. If you feel like you're walking on eggshells and have to censor what you say around them, it's not a good sign. If your partner is emotionally volatile and shouts to intimidate you, you probably won't feel safe in the relationship.

They Use Threats to Intimidate You

Threats to your life or your body can create fear—whether they're empty or not. No threat should be taken lightly. Even if your spouse tells you they're only joking, there shouldn't be concerns about your safety in a healthy relationship. It's especially important to take a threat seriously if it causes you to change your behavior or feel on guard.

They Blame You for Their Actions

If your spouse loses their temper, do they blame you for their actions or subsequent behavior? This is called victim-blaming, and it's a sign of verbal abuse frequently associated with narcissistic personalities. The reasons or excuses they describe may be intentionally convoluted to confuse you, resulting in your apologies for their actions. They may then be overly affectionate to make you believe that they never really hurt you.

"It’s important to remember that people in abusive relationships aren’t always experiencing volatile abuse 100 percent of the time," says Peck. "Often, after an abusive episode, couples make up and have a sort of 'honeymoon phase' for a bit. This is a piece that leads to emotional complexity and leads victims to justify their partner’s abuse or take the blame for it."

They Dismiss Your Feelings

When your spouse refuses to discuss issues that upset you, they might be avoiding responsibility. Conversations about actions and words that hurt you are ended, and issues that reflect poorly on their behavior are dismissed. This is also a form of gaslighting: Concerns are ignored, and your partner insists that certain events "didn't happen" or you're remembering things wrong. Gaslighting can make you question your own reality, leading back to a cycle of victim-blaming.

"Many clients of mine who have experienced or are experiencing verbal abuse in a relationship are also feeling the effects of emotional abuse and gaslighting," says Peck. "They often report their partners telling them they feel a certain way, which is contradicting what they really feel (or think they really feel; the abuse makes that emotional awareness very challenging for some victims)." 

They Manipulate You

The persistent, and intense, use of threatening words may lead you to do things or act in ways 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'll say whatever it takes to play on your emotions and keep you in the marriage. It's an attempt to make you comply with their desires—regardless of what's best for you as an individual.

Signs You Are a Victim of Verbal Abuse

You Have Low Self-Esteem

You find yourself burying your feelings, trying not to upset your partner, and working so hard at keeping the peace that every day becomes an emotional chore. You may feel depressed or wonder sometimes if you're crazy. You turn your stress inward. Punishing yourself for your partner's behavior, you feel like it's all happening in your head. Peck says her clients report that verbal and emotional abuse "leads them to believe anything wrong in the relationship is their fault or that their lack of happiness or satisfaction in the relationship is a result of them not trying hard enough."

You Feel Like a Different Person

When someone abuses you, it can change the way you feel about yourself. You become so caught up in the relationship and trying to avoid upsetting your partner that you abandon the person you used to be. You lose your voice and let go of personal boundaries. If you find yourself justifying abuse in your relationship for any reason when in the past you would have never imagined putting up with the behavior, it's probably time to seek help.

"Often, I hear clients say a justification for staying in the relationship was that 'at least' the abuse wasn’t physical," says Peck. "Physical or not, the abuse is real, and when I hear people use this type of justification in their narrative, it makes me realize how much they’ve had to repress their own feelings and emotions and have struggled to find their own voice in their life," says Peck.

You Feel Like You're Walking on Eggshells

If you don't have feelings of safety and security when your partner is around, you may feel the need to guard every word you speak. Everything you do or say is never good enough. When you feel like you can't be yourself to the fullest extent, it might be time to reevaluate your relationship and the role you want to play in it. "When I hear people say they’re too afraid to say something because of how their partner will respond, in a way that seems to trigger some sense of fear, I begin to assess for signs of abuse or safety concerns," says Peck.

How to Respond to Verbal Abuse in a Relationship

Abuse is never justified. Remind yourself that it is not your fault—and consider your options for walking away when you experience it. If the person you love is verbally abusive and dismissive of your feelings, you might not see yourself (and your needs) as important. You are. "Listen to those feelings that go against what you know is right for you. If you’re being told in any way your feelings, thoughts, emotions aren’t valued, it’s time to reach out for some support to help you get into a healthier space," says Peck.

When you realize you are being abused, try to focus on getting help. Here are some dos and donts to consider if you're faced with verbal abuse:

  • Do: Seek counseling with a relationship therapist, either together or separately.
  • Do: Surround yourself with a support system of family and friends who can validate your experiences. Discuss with them what is happening and how you're feeling.
  • Do: Communicate with your abuser about their hurtful words, and discuss that this behavior is unacceptable to you. Set boundaries on what you will and will not accept in a relationship.
  • Do: Leave the marriage or relationship (when nothing else helps). If you make this decision, hire an attorney familiar with domestic violence, stay in close contact with your support system, and focus on learning positive coping skills.
  • Do: Seek out a shelter if you feel that you are in danger after taking steps to leave the relationship.
  • Don't: Engage in conflict with your abuser. If your abuser becomes angry, stay calm, walk away, and don’t give them a reaction.
  • Don't: Blame yourself for someone else’s behaviors.
  • Don't: Stay in a relationship with someone who is hurting you
  • Don't: Tell yourself that you don't deserve to be treated better.
  • Don't: Ignore your thoughts, feelings, and instincts.

Even though verbal abuse doesn't leave a visible mark, those who experience it still suffer emotionally. Your experience should not be dismissed. By showing yourself the care you'd show for others, you can start on the road toward a fulfilling future. "The more clear and aware you get of yourself as a person, your values, standards, boundaries, the more you’re going to be aware when you are in a relationship with someone who does not respect those things," says Peck.

7 Signs of a Bad Marriage, According to a Marriage Therapist

5 Ways of Dealing with Verbally Abusive Relationships

Kellie Holly

People victimized by verbal abuse in marriage, or other verbally abusive relationships, don't want to give up easily. There is love or money (or both) at stake, and they could feel that the sacrifice of walking away is too great. Victims of verbally abusive relationships most want to know how to respond to verbal abuse and how to stop verbal abuse.

Stopping Verbal Abuse in Marriage, Relationships

Those on the victim side of verbally abusive relationships simply want the abuse to stop. They cannot understand why another person would want to be cruel. Most people waste too much time wondering "why" and not enough time reframing their own mental and emotional perspectives. But this, too, is an effect of abuse. Verbally abusive people "teach" their victims' to focus outward toward them instead of inward to the victims' own perceptions and feelings. (see Verbally Abusive Men and Women: Why Do They Abuse?)

Getting Control in Verbally Abusive Relationships

The only way to stop verbal abuse in marriage or other relationships is if victims change the way they respond to it. Here are five ways a victim of verbal abuse can change their reactions to a verbally abusive spouse, co-worker, or anyone else and possibly end the abuse:

  1. Every emotionally charged situation includes three things: The activating event, the victim's beliefs about the activating event, and the victim's resulting feelings or behaviors. Too often, people jump from the event straight to the feelings/behaviors without considering their beliefs about the event. If victims change their beliefs about the abusive event (here we go again, look at her trying to control me!), then their emotions and behaviors change, too.1
  2. Recognize the difference between healthy negative emotions and unhealthy ones. Referring back to number one, victims who create beliefs that produce unhealthy negative emotions will feel things like rage, self-hatred, and anxiety. But victims whose beliefs create healthy negative emotions experience feelings like frustration, disappointment and sadness. The healthy negative feelings are appropriate (no one would be happy about being abused), but the unhealthy feelings spiral the victim into counter-productive behaviors and a feeling of being stuck in a horrible situation.2
  3. Set personal boundaries on behaviors you will not accept from other people and enforce them. Personal boundaries erode over the course of a verbally abusive relationship as the abuser gains access to the victim's safe zones. Setting personal boundaries mostly reminds the victim to be on the lookout for abusive behaviors, recognize them, and protect themselves from further emotional or mental harm.
  4. Victims of verbally abusive relationships who tell other people about the abuse find support and strength and are better able to stay clear-minded when the abuse occurs. Victims must be careful in their selection of support people. If someone in your circle consistently tells you, "You're making more of this than it is," or they insist the one who abuses you is a "good person," then they're not appropriate support.
  5. Victims who address the verbal abuse as it occurs have the opportunity to point out behavior the abuser might not realize s/he's doing. If nothing else, addressing the abuse in real-time empowers the victim and sets the stage for remembering to do numbers 1-3. The easiest response to verbal abuse is "Stop it!"3

See also: How to Deal with a Verbally Abusive Husband or Boyfriend

article references

APA Reference
Holly, K. (2021, December 17). 5 Ways of Dealing with Verbally Abusive Relationships, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 10 from

Last Updated: January 2, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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How to deal with verbal abuse in a relationship - HEROINE

Realizing that abuse and rudeness has become the norm in your relationship with a partner is not so easy. Not always offensive words are obvious curses, there are many other ways to hurt a partner with one phrase. We understand what verbal abuse in a relationship is and how to respond to them.

Hurt with a joke, word or compliment: types of abuse in a relationship

Understanding that you have been physically abused is much easier than realizing that a person is verbally abusing you. There are many ways to hurt your partner without seeming to say anything special. Here are the main types of verbal abuse in a relationship:

Swear words

The most obvious way to offend is to use obscenities and other swear words. When a partner allows himself such rude behavior, it is worth seriously considering whether to stay in such a relationship. The next step could be assault.


This is when a partner casually downplays everything you do. It may even sound like a compliment: “You are great, but . ..”, however, the second part of such praise nullifies the first. The purpose of this behavior is to ruin your self-esteem.


Close to depreciation, but here the partner does not even try to pretend that he is praising you, although sometimes he disguises criticism as irony. Giving advice or saying things you don't like from time to time is fine, but if a guy does this on a regular basis, on every occasion, and in front of other people, then this is already a form of verbal abuse and a way to take away your confidence.

Raise voice

When a partner repeatedly breaks into a cry, the second person in the couple may develop a constant fear of saying or doing something wrong and again provoke anger. Understanding that a guy's habit of raising his voice becomes offensive is easiest in his reaction.


They may be half-joking, but in any case, the partner's habit of threatening something will have a bad effect on your relationship. In this way, he is trying to manipulate you.

Refusing to talk

Ironically, this is also a form of verbal abuse. When a man suddenly stops talking, if it develops in a way that is unfavorable for him, avoids important topics for you, ignores your words - this is a clear sign of disrespect.

Read Related: 8 Signs Your Relationship Isn’t Respectful

What to Do When Your Partner Behaves Abusively

Try to Understand the Reasons

People most often turn to abusive behavior when they lose control, but if it has become systematic, it is worth looking for reasons. Perhaps rude words are the norm for a guy to communicate, and he just doesn’t realize that such an attitude hurts you. Although if he began to allow himself insulting expressions not immediately, but in the process of relations, then it is clearly not a matter of poor education.

Do not make excuses

Understanding the reasons will help develop an adequate response, but this is by no means a way to justify a partner. Whatever his motives, it doesn't give a guy the right to treat you abusively.

Don't answer back

The biggest mistake is to respond with an insult for an insult. It only reinforces this way of communicating in your relationship. When your partner gets into cursing and is unable to speak constructively, the best thing to do is to walk away from the situation, end the conversation, and let it cool down before you talk too much.

Form a supportive environment

Abusive partner behavior seriously hurts self-esteem. To maintain self-confidence, you need to find those who will always support you: communicate with friends, relatives. Hiding your problems from everyone and isolating yourself from others in such a situation is very dangerous, because you give your partner more control over yourself.

Set boundaries

It is important to set healthy boundaries in a relationship from the start. This means not enduring insults in silence, but immediately declaring that it offends you and asking your partner not to do this again. If you tolerate unacceptable behavior for yourself, then you let the guy know that everything is normal and he can continue to behave like that.

Get help

Professional help is especially important if the guy has problems with self-control. Maybe he should learn to manage his anger. You can also use couples therapy if you think the abusive behavior is the result of accumulated problems in the relationship.

Get out of the relationship

This is an extreme step, but sometimes the only possible one. When your partner doesn't respond to your attempts to set boundaries, doesn't want to deal with their abusive behavior, and doesn't acknowledge it at all, it's worth breaking up with them. Insults in a relationship should by no means become the norm, in such conditions it is simply not possible to form a healthy strong bond.

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Husband insults and humiliates: reasons and ways to fight

Women dream of a marriage in which love and mutual understanding reign. But sometimes reality turns out to be far from expectations and a gentle and sensitive spouse suddenly turns into a cruel aggressor. There are several reasons why a husband insults and humiliates his life partner.

Why a husband humiliates in public

Psychology will help to understand why a husband insults and humiliates his wife in public. Relationship experts believe that insecure, weak-minded individuals tend to humiliate a loved one in public. Insulting his wife in front of strangers, a man tries to assert himself at her expense. The husband believes that against the background of a disgraced, pathetic woman, he looks cool in the eyes of others.

The cause of humiliation in public can be inferiority complexes that wake up in a man next to a nice, educated or well-earned wife. To drown out the envy or jealousy raging inside, the husband calls his life partner a terrible or stupid name in order to equalize with himself.

Public insults can be a way to show your partner that love is over. An indecisive person cannot directly declare a breakup. Humiliating, he waits for his wife to break loose and offer to leave.

Sometimes a wife provokes her husband to aggression by her behavior. For example, he regularly drinks, flirts with a man's friends, and is rude to his parents. In response to such actions, the enraged spouse breaks down and begins to humiliate the woman in public, just to let off steam and calm down.

Husband insults and humiliates his wife in front of children

According to psychologists, selfish, egocentric personalities tend to humiliate their wife in front of children. Such a person cares only about his own peace of mind. Failures and blunders, moral dissatisfaction, fears experienced result in anger that a man takes out on his partner even in the presence of children. It is important for a spouse to immediately throw out aggression in order to achieve peace of mind.

If your husband insults you in front of the children, this is not the time to think about the reasons.

Screaming, swearing and boorish behavior of one parent towards another have a detrimental effect on the unstable psyche and fragile health of the child. Talk to your husband, ask if he realizes that he is harming his own children.

If talking doesn't help, see a psychologist. In the absence of changes in the behavior of a man, even after psychotherapy, it is worth considering the termination of the union that is detrimental to you and the children before it is too late.

How to behave when the husband insults and humiliates

Try to determine the reason for the rude behavior and note how often the husband humiliates and insults. If your spouse breaks down while drunk, and when sober is a model of calm and understanding, ask to undergo treatment for alcoholism. Analyze your own feelings: do you continue to feel love and respect for your partner, are you ready to continue to endure abuse.

Will love help

According to psychologists, mutual love can reduce aggression and eradicate boorish behavior of a spouse. To do this, a woman must be patient and smooth out the conflict situation every time.

When a husband insults his wife, one should respond with kind words. The man will be discouraged, and his conscience will not allow him to continue the attacks. If your husband calls names, immediately tell him that it hurts and unpleasant for you to hear such words from a loved one.

Always emphasize the importance and necessity of a man in your life.

For example, when talking about a promotion, focus on the fact that you achieved success only because of the presence of such a wonderful husband. Surround your spouse with attention and care, regularly repeating that you want him to be truly happy.

Psychologist's advice on how to put your husband in his place

Before you finally decide what to do if your husband constantly insults and humiliates you, try to follow the advice of psychologists. First, scare the abuser by going to live with your parents or a girlfriend for a few weeks. During this time, do not meet with a man and do not communicate with him on the phone. Then return, but warn your spouse that if the aggression does not stop, you will leave completely.

Explain to your husband that no matter how dear he is to you, a quiet life is preferable, so your marriage now depends solely on his desire to change his own behavior.

Giving the opportunity to rehabilitate, do not reproach the man for past grievances.

Secondly, do not try to find out the cause of insults and humiliation directly during breakdowns. Give the man time to cool down. Go for a walk with the kids. When the spouse calms down, explain that you are mentally tired, so this can no longer continue. You are ready to help and support a man in every possible way, but if aggressive attacks are repeated, most likely your relationship will end in divorce.

Thirdly, present your husband with the fact that you need to talk frankly, but not at home. To avoid disruptions, go together to the park or to the beach, where there will be people at some distance.

What to ask an abusive spouse

During the conversation, ask your partner what causes aggressive outbursts and how, in his opinion, attacks can be eradicated. Specify whether he understands the abnormality of his own behavior, whether he is ready to change for the sake of the family.

Ask if the spouse is aware that their outbursts are hurting the children. Explain that babies are afraid of their father. Find out if the man understands that he is responsible for the life and health of his own children.

Ask if your spouse loves you. If so, why does it behave this way? Explain that you are tired of such rudeness. Let him put himself in your place. Ask what it's like to be offended for nothing.

When you can't do without the support of a psychologist

It's not always possible to solve a problem on your own. You can’t do without the support of a specialist if a man suffers from serious mental disorders or received mental trauma in childhood. In this case, you will need a course of psychotherapy.

Regular visits to a psychologist are necessary when a spouse calls names and humiliates only when drunk.

Most likely, during periods of enlightenment, a man realizes guilt, so a specialist can easily establish contact and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Immediately seek the support of a psychologist if the husband not only obscenities, but also engages in assault. In this case, any attempts to calm the man on his own can end in a severe beating.

How to avoid abuse

Each case of psychological abuse requires separate consideration and a unique approach. However, abuse can be avoided by following certain rules.

Do not tolerate and do not be silent if the husband offends. In moments when a man is calm, find out the cause of aggression. Discuss the situation and work together to find a solution to the problem that suits both.

Look closely at your partner before marriage. A person does not change overnight. The guy's tendency to aggression will be noticeable even in the candy-bouquet period.

If you don't want to be humiliated later, contact with the abuser should be stopped early in the relationship.

Watch your own behavior and appearance. The respectful attitude of others largely depends on your perception of yourself as a person. Few people dare to insult a person whose actions, speech and appearance cause only admiration.

Do's and Don'ts

Don't wait to solve the problem yourself. Over time, the situation can only get worse: from verbal abuse, the husband will move on to beatings.

Don't try to change a man without getting his consent. Not only will you not achieve a positive result, but you will also provoke a new conflict.

Do not worry in silence. Be sure to inform the man about the unacceptability of such behavior after the breakdown.

Do not curry favor with the aggressor spouse, otherwise he will not fully realize his own guilt.

Do not insult back. By acting like an abuser, you will only fuel conflict. As a result, the showdown will end in a loud scandal and cruelty.

Don't tell yourself this is the norm. There should be at least mutual respect between partners.

Do not listen to those who say that insults and beatings are a manifestation of love. A man should respect and appreciate his life partner, and not swear and engage in assault.

When to leave an abuser

Breaking up a relationship is not easy, especially after years of marriage.

Learn more