How do you deal with a spouse that is verbally abusive? My spouse is a good person and I know this, but tends to be a control person and can get verbally abusive when things don't go his way. I am tired. I don't have the strength or courage to fight him. He will never go to counseling so that's not an option, I do love him, but how do I stop the roller coaster?
My sister just got out of one I mean like this weekend. Her husband was a good guy in the beginning, but a year after they were married he turned into a monster. She talked to him about the controlling and about the emotional abuse (not letting her see the family and not letting her have a car and so so). Then there were several heartfelt letters on both ends. The man did change for a week and then went back to the same old mean person he was.
I gave her a number to call at it is Legal Aide for all the united states it is 1-888-534-1432 (it is help for those who cannot afford a lawyer, they go by income). Depending on how abusive and if there are children involved the best choice is to stay with a relative first. Especially if is it going to them as well. Has there been marriage counseling about this situation? Maybe he needs help mentally and particularly if he grew up in that kind of home. There are so many things to do. Also, call the County Shelter (the county you live in) you can find there number in the phone book in the government offices section or call the police department and they can give it to you. A lot of the time in these cases you need proof that it is going on.
Everyone deserves a second chance especially if they are trying to change. If there's no change after talking over and over again there may never be any change. I am not anyone who has a degree in this stuff, but I have lived through it as a young child and then with my sister. I wish you well. If you know the things that are setting your spouse off, don't walk on egg shells, but tweak a change in style. I will stay posted if you need any more help or advice. I go to this website everyday, if you need to get a hold of me leave another post with the same anonymous123. Bless you and your spouse. (06/25/2007)
By Michelle, From OH
If he isn't willing to admit there is a problem then you have two choices.
Chose to die in the abuse
Or chose to LIVE. Do you have children? If you do, then you have an obligation to get out. If you don't then it's your choice whether or not you get out. But abusers are abusers, whether they abuse alcohol, drugs, women, animals or whatever, they will and can not get help until they are ready.
Hey, you can love many things, but you don't have to like or put up with them. I love Oreo's, really love them. But I can't eat them (I've had gastric bypass and that is the main reason) because I will not stop eating them, so I don't eat them. I used to love a man that abused me, verbally, and one time physically (while 7 months pregnant), but I decided that I loved my unborn baby and myself more than him. See, I live with myself, all the time, there is no escaping me, so my choices for my life will always be right here, in front of me. But the choices that I make externally are not in front of me (if I chose to make them that way).
Life is about choice, choice to do with what we are dealt, how we deal is what shows our true character. If you believe that you are the most important (children aside, if they are any) person in your life, than you need to leave and never look back. Most marital vows are based on the Bible, and no where do I see that is says "in verbal abuse or worse".
If you are a believer, than I would talk with a local pastor (if you don't have one) they have tremendous resources for situations like yours. (06/25/2007)
I also was involved in a verbally abusive relationship. Only being married to this man for 4 years, (we're both elderly) he changed after the first year and half. I told him I was leaving, he begged me to stay and that he would change, he did change for awhile, then back to same old stuff. The clincher was one day he stood in the door way of the room where I was (no way to exit). He had a gun to his head, then he moved it to his throat. I talked him into putting the gun away, he left the doorway and went into our outdoor camper.
Meantime I went to the pastor's house across the street, we called the sheriff and they came, got him to surrender the gun (finding 4 other guns in his possession) and took him to a mental ward of the nearest hospital. I was very fortunate to have many church friends who came to my rescue who supplied $ and help to load all my belongings into a U-Haul and leave. He was released to his brother, long enough for me to leave the area. He filed divorce papers on me, claiming it was all my fault. I had tried to get him to a counselor, but no luck. Well I am now safe, back in the area where my children live. Thankful that he and I are still alive. (06/25/2007)
Thank you all for the support. I posted to this site because I have no friends or family to turn to. I need all the support and advise I can get. For years I believed he would change and then one day I knew he wouldn't, but I still see the good person inside that I know he can be. That has kept me with him for the 20 years we have been married. I have 3 kids (all grown).
Yesterday he threw a tantrum because the place where I am employed is closing and the owner decided to stay open an additional 2 weeks longer than he had planned. This means if I want to get unemployment I have to stay till the store actually closes. We just sold our house and are trying to move, so this upset him. Like I had anything to do with it. He never wanted me to keep this job anyway, to him it's not a "real" job. ( I have no benefits), but I like this job and that's why I have stayed.
So now I am "trailer park trash" and always will be. (I used to live in a trailer park when he met me) and that the kids and I have continually "screwed" him over. Later that night he said he was sorry for getting upset, but never apologized for what he said. He doesn't think he did anything wrong.
How do you get up the strength and courage to stand up to someone after being told or led to believe that you aren't important?
It is a difficult situation. The fact that you are asking, means it bothers you and you really want some help. No one should have to put up with verbal abuse, it is damaging to your self esteem and damaging to your marriage. You say that your husband will not even consider counseling (I'm assuming you've asked) means that he doesn't see it as a problem. Is it possible for you to get counseling for yourself? It may help you make decisions about your relationship and ways that can help you cope. You can check with community centers for sliding scale counseling sessions. Also, a pastor or priest may be able to help and at least give you somewhere to vent.
The important thing is to continue thinking the opposite of what he is telling you when he is being abusive. If he tells you you are stupid, say to yourself, I am intelligent. If he tells you that you can't do anything right, say to yourself, I am competent. It really makes a difference to do this, it changes your posture and helps to undo the damage of his words.
Another thing you can do is calmly tell him, when he is being nice, how much it hurts you when he talks to you that way. He probably feels bad about it once he is done with his tirades, but for your peace of mind, this needs to stop.
I'm sure you love him or you wouldn't still be in the relationship. It's a serious thing to end a relationship. You could consider a trial separation until he was willing to go to counseling. Sometimes men need a wake up call.
Take good care of yourself and let us know what you decide to do.
Susan from ThriftyFun (06/26/2007)
You say he is really a good guy inside. I can identify. My husband is like that. He grew up in a family that was so dysfunctional he won't even talk about them. Our first year he was wonderful. His kids kept saying, "Boy, Daddy sure has cleaned up his language since he married you." But several things have happened. We have been through some tough things like really low income, stressed kids, and major illness. For 15 years I have been totally exhausted because of cardiomyopathy, so he has taken over much of the housekeeping as well as his long hours of work.
He would be most abusive in public, and my friends would ask if he had ever hit me. Another thing that changed was, I learned to say, "I didn't deserve that comment." To my great surprise, he started agreeing with me. In our second year of marriage, he received Christ as his personal savior, and the children soon followed. I can't say it's all been perfect, but there are times when he is so loving that I see deep into his soul. We never had counseling.
The kids are grown up and happy adults. It has been 26 years this coming October, and I am so glad I stuck with it. I have gone from being hypersensitive to quite tough, and I have come to know his ways so that I know when to tell him to knock it off. I have learned not to respond in anger. Our lives have both been richer for the learning. I don't know if this is your situation, but if it is, try it out. All I know is we are greatly blessed (even if I can't take him out in public). (06/26/2007)
Honey get out now. This man is going to go from verbal abuse to physical in a blink of an eye. Don't just sit there and wait for it to happen, cause believe me it will. (06/26/2007)
By Tupelo granmom
Remove yourself from his presence. Don't say anything. Just leave. If you can leave in the car for a while, do it. If not, go to another part of the house or go outside. Just don't stay where you can hear it. Even a dog will get the message after a while. (06/26/2007)
I'm so sorry. I've been through the same situation. My mama told me that people do to you only what you allow them to do. Get counseling, even if he doesn't want to go and I will definitely pray for you sweetie. (06/26/2007)
I am currently divorcing a "nice" guy that was also periodically verbally abusive. We've been married almost 18 years. I'm doing this mainly because I realized I no longer could see me though anyone's, but his eyes. Even though I would fight back, tell him he was wrong and hurtful I hadn't realized how much I had come to believe these things he said to me.
Once I realized this, I gave him many many chances to change, chances he said he wanted, but the behavior is part of who they are in most cases, I've come to find out. It became a choice between accepting the reality of the situation and what that meant to my present and future emotional well being or leaving and learning to like myself again.
I obviously chose the latter and while the split was not fun, I have hope today that I can unlearned all of the lessons he "didn't mean to" teach me. Since I can't advise you what to do, I thought I'd share my story with you in hopes that you may see something that helps.
Good luck to you. (06/26/2007)
Verbally abusive means that you aren't loved.
Do you really want to stay with someone who doesn't love you?
If he were a good man, he'd tell you how he feels.
He's not good. Not for you, anyway. Probably not for anyone until he grows up and learns to shut his mouth. This may never happen.
You deserve someone better. Save your money for the time when you can get a divorce. It may take a couple of years, but that's your goal. (06/27/2007)
You need to start thinking about you and not him. My parents have been married for 37 years and my father is very verbally abusive to my mom. When I was growing I remember wishing that my mom would take us and leave so that we would not have to hear or go through this anymore. To this day my father is still abusive to my mom and it drives me crazy. You may not think that it affects your kids since they are grown, but it does. My father has started being verbally abusive to mine and my brothers kids now and that I will not tolerate. You need to leave and if you ask your kids I bet they would say the same thing, I know my brother and I would do anything that we had to get my mom out if she would agree to leave my dad. God bless and good luck. (06/27/2007)
First, know that you aren't alone. Second, even if your husband doesn't hit you, he's still abusing you. Verbal abuse is battering without fists. It's the way that a man controls the woman in his life on many levels, including financial, if he controls the money. There is plenty of help in every state for battered women, and make no mistake, your husband is battering you emotionally.
I suggest you seek counseling for yourself. That will help you empower yourself over your husband's bad behavior. Reaching outside of your home for help is the first step to sanity. You can change yourself, but don't expect to change your husband. It rarely happens. Try to step outside of your comfort zone and seek help from people who understand Battered Women's Syndrome. I grew up in a home with a father who was abusive on every level, physical, sexual, and verbal/emotional. Verbal abuse can be one of the worst forms of abuse to a woman and her children, regardless of their ages.
You can find help everywhere. Call your local battered women's helpline. If you can't find a local number, try this website ndvh.org which is the National Domestic Violence organization or call their hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They can direct you local help, if that's what you want.
Best wishes to you and please take care of yourself. (06/28/2007)
Dear Anon,- I think you have a lot of strength and courage to have stayed with him through all of this. You might also try looking up ACOA, Adult Children of Alcoholics on the internet. It's like Alcoholics Anonymous, only for adult children of alcoholics. Many ACOAs learned early to just be quiet and clean up other people's messes for them. We're all concerned about your safety. I hope you find help and I hope you find what's best for you. Good luck to you. (06/29/2007)
This is such a powerful topic and I wish to send a hug out to everyone who has responded and two hugs to every one who has been a victim of this. I was the victim of spousal verbal and physical abuse for 29 years. I can relate to what has been said here.
Everywhere I looked for answers, they were asking me to do something that I didn't have the courage to do. I even got the answers that if I didn't have the courage to stand up for myself, I deserved everything I got. Nothing was fitting, but I knew there must be an answer. I discovered finally that no one can hurt us unless we allow it. Physical pain yes, but everyone knows that.
I learned to let my husband own his own actions. It was his choice whether or not to be loud and offensive. My choice whether or not to be hurt over it. It took awhile and it taught me to be responsible for my own actions as well. The pain is not in the action itself, but in how you feel about it.
What I learned was about taking my own power. Not power over others, but power over my own experience. There is so much wisdom in that and you have to find it for yourself. Otherwise if you just leave him, you can be pretty sure that the next man you find is likely to manifest the same actions. People treat us the way we ask to be treated. This is largely subconscious.
I agree Anon that your husband is a good man. He abuses because he is lost and hurting. And it's the only way he knows. You perhaps accept that abuse for the same reason. Discover your own inherent goodness and dignity and no one will ever be able to take that away from you.
You are all so wonderful. (07/06/2007)
Okay. I had an epiphany last November when I read "Stop Walking on Egg Shells" by Mason. I searched the web frequently and finally concluded that I, a male, was a victim of long term verbal abuse. I ordered and read the books by Evans and could relate 100%. Though I found it difficult to admit, I knew from what I was reading that I had been in a verbally abusive relationship for years. I have been married for 27 years and am planning on leaving on July 1st, for my sake only. I have been beaten verbally for years. This story may seem weird because I was the main breadwinner, the work and community leader, brimming with confidence. Verbal abuse picks away at your esteem slowly.
My wife, the verbal abuser was raised by an extremely abusive father, so it isn't really her fault, but I need to get out for my sake. My wife demanded and did not receive respect from our children. You see, she was verbally abusive to them. I used to try to keep peace and support my domestic partner because we were a team. She berated the kids when I was at work. I wasn't aware of all of the stunts because I was at work earning our keep. My son committed suicide a few years back and I fear now that one of the contributing factors and there were many was low self esteem, which is a by product of verbal abuse. My daughter is married and living in another state. She doesn't want to see her mother at all. It is unbelievable how common the abused stories are.
My daughter and I talk about our experiences. My wife has this loving all caring type of personality when out in public, but was able to turn it around at home when no one else was watching. It would be confusing to us and unbelievable to any one who had not experienced this wrath first hand. Her scars from childhood abuse were just well hidden in public. She was abusive to me on occasion at home and more frequently to the kids when no one else was around.
The sad thing is that it was sporadic or varied so you never knew when it would come. We were always on edge. She could be loving one minute and a beast the next. I loved my children unconditionally. They did not feel loved by their mother. I found this to be very sad. It was almost like she had a dual personality. I tried so hard to keep her happy, but I could never do enough. If I made a lot of money, she spent more and needed more. If I worked in the basement, the upstairs needed to be painted. She was taught by her father to always find flaws. Well, this she was very good at.
My kids tiptoed because they never knew when she would fly off the handle. I was always careful with my words because she was always looking to cause an argument. I tried to avoid the confrontation so I blame myself for being an enabler. Abusers know what they are doing. They want power not love. They are carrying a lot of anger from youth.
As I am detaching emotionally, my wife has become the sweetest kindest person you would ever want to meet. She shows signs of not being able to control her emotions on occasion, but she seems very aware and able to control her anger most of the time. As I prepare to leave, she is becoming the kindest most caring individual with a sensitive side. I believe that she is setting the trap and ready to play the role of a great victim. I am hurting and almost emotionally dead inside. I tried so hard and so long to make this relationship work. I was never perfect and always accepted 100% responsibility for my 50% of the relationship. Even the best workers get tired after a while.
Thus, I am leaving on July 1. I am finding hard to get ready because of the time spent together, but abusers know the procedure too well. They have been working at power and control all the time. Her father is a constant companion. They talk on the phone two to three times per day. The way she tells it, she was just showing the kids how to respect her parents the way the Bible says she should. The kids take was that she would neglect us in a minute to attend to a sliver in her parents hand. She appeared to frequently choose her parents over her kids.
I was hurt personally by the actions associated with the choices. Now her dad thinks he is dying and he may well be. She attends to his every need like a good child should. She has never confronted him about the abuse. She will demonstrate loyalty and take her father's abuse to his grave. He will not be found out. I know she will crash once he is gone. She will then be able to acknowledge the abuse from childhood. She is starting to like the healing therapy. She is in counseling right now. I am disappointed that the main offender is getting away scott free and I have been given the legacy from the abuse to live with for 27 years.
As I said, I rambled because I am venting and it hurts. The culprit is escaping without consequence and the doting husband who was and is a great father has tolerated a life of abuse and has woken up and is ready to leave. Wish me luck as I prepare.
I have seen her spin from bully to victim way too often and now I am so spent that I only have enough strength left to take care of myself. I need to leave and heal in order to live a happy life. I model happiness and live it, but it is hard to swim when you are carrying an anchor. This hard working man felt like he had to raise three children. Now the children are grown. One is dead and the oldest is married.
I want a partner and don't want to continue to raise a third child. I am truly sorry for her inner pain and was ready to listen and accept for 27 years. Now I am afraid that it is too late. I am sorry and farewell.
I will be very fair during separation and divorce as I want nothing materially. I want the memories and the fun from our kids. Take your material possessions and win. You will have your own epiphany one day and you will be able to admit your abuse, apologize to your daughter and me. Only then will you be able to look yourself in the mirror and declare that you are starting to heal.
Good luck with your journey and I wish you all the best. It isn't always the guys who abuse. There is a generation of girls who were verbally abused by their father or mother and were never allowed to grow up. If you recognize yourself in the above, male or female, get help early. I have lived an unnecessary life of extra pain as the husband of an abuser. Please get help early for yourself, your spouse and your children. We all function better when we have had the opportunity to heal from the pain. Wise too late. (05/21/2008)
It took going to a therapist to get up the courage to take action. Last straw was him choking me in front of 1 and 2 year old boys. We dated 4 years and were married for 13 years. I married for better or worse. He refused counseling or medicine. Our family now knows peace and quiet and happiness. Best thing I ever did. (07/15/2008)
By Verbally/Physically Abused
All of these stories which I have read have described the situation that I lived in. My wife is a bully and control freak. Yet like a lot of the comments she is well known in the community and heavily involved in our church. Yet behind closed doors she is a verbal monster who has no problem cutting you down to size and uses the Bible to do it, and like a lot of your commentators no one believes me. It is like living in a episode of the Twilight Zone. I finally left because I could not take it anymore. (09/25/2008)
It's funny that I'm going to give advice when I'm in the same situation. The advice I have is already well known:
Seek counseling or outside advice (this is usually expensive). It is usually okay to do this for a little while without your spouses knowledge, but at some point you should let your spouse know. Doing anything behind a spouses back can cause mistrust.
Learn good communication skills. Problems occur when feelings are bottled up or one or both spouses feel ignored. Without proper communication skills, when trying to talk about feelings or problems, it tends to escalate into arguments. Try not to use the word "you". Using "you" tends to be an aggressive word and makes the other person defensive. Example "You do this, You don't do that, I hate it when you." A better way would be to remove "you" and say something more like "I do not like it when I am yelled at, or I do not like it when this happens". It is obvious they do the yelling so it doesn't need to be stated and by removing you, you are expressing your feelings without blame. Let your spouse know your feelings, but word it as best as you can so that it is neutral, not offensive or defensive in nature.
If you both agree there are issues, sit down and make goals on how to resolve them and stick to them. This will probably be awkward as it is new and exposes weaknesses in the marriage but if you both try, it can get better.
If you feel you can't confront your spouse verbally, then try writing a short note to jot down some easily discussed feelings, get the ball rolling on discussing problems you both have that aren't threatening to anyone. For example I feel we need to spend more time together. It doesn't blame any one, but is a problem and you both should be able to work on it without getting too upset.
Remember it takes 2 and you are most likely not all that innocent either so listen to what they have to say and remember, they may not know how to communicate properly either so when they use an aggressive tone, do your best to not retaliate when this happens. Give it time. Over time and discussing problems and seeing your calm example, the other person tends to calm down and not feel the need to be as verbally aggressive.
To all of us that are living with a partner husband or spouse that abuses us, this is an awesome website to learn how to empower ourselves. I have been reading the comments on this website for the last 2 days and my heart truly goes out to everyone. I use to really love my husband. Now I have come to the point where I can't even stand to look at him. What was I ever thinking that I could change him to how he was 10 years ago, that he would be truly sorry for all the horrible situations he has brought into my life.
I'm not a counselor. I'm a mum and a wife trying to do the best I can. If I had a dollar for every time he abused me when he was drunk I would be a millionaire by now, he has said sorry more times. Then I have hot dinners, the abuse never stops. Each week it's a different issue and depending what's going on in his life at the time. I have my first counseling appointment next week. I hope that I will find that last little bit of courage I need to leave and never look back.
My children are victims of his abuse and I am the only one that can help them and show them a happier life, the words Respect, Honor, and Love are not words these abusers know, all they know how to do is to belittle us and abuse us time and time again, To anyone trying to leave keep reading all the comments on this site it will only make you stronger. (08/04/2009)
Sorry to say this, but you and your kids are living in a broken home. I was in the same situation. I grabbed my kids and left. Now my kids and I don't live in a broken home any longer because I fixed it. (02/13/2010)
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