Signs of verbal abuse in marriage

Verbal abuse can rip a marriage apart. Because it assumes a spoken form, many victims don't view it as abuse. Husbands and wives tend to remain longer in a marriage riddled with verbal and mental abuse than one with physical abuse. Until they've suffered an emotional breakdown, they often don't recognise the signs that emotional abuse is as harmful as domestic violence.

Name Calling: Is Verbal Abuse

This is the number one form of non-physical abuse. In some marriages, spouses claim to be helping the partner by putting him down or constantly criticising him. This is a very sinister form of mental abuse. Negative name calling, like being called "stupid" or "an idiot," is an abuser's way of destroying her spouse's self-esteem.

Shouting: Is Verbal Abuse

All marriages have rocky roads to cross; however, when one spouse feels that the only way to get his point across is to yell and scream, then verbal abuse is happening. (More aggressive verbal abuse may show signs of domestic violence.) The victim feels like the most minute utterance will set her spouse off, and usually it does.

Blaming: Is Verbal (Emotional) Abuse

This is a common tactic used by verbally abusive spouses. She blatantly did something wrong, but instead of taking responsibility she blames her husband. She'll find any reason possible to make him the guilty party. Some spouses are so good at blaming, they cultivate an innate knack for making the victim believe he is the culprit.

Threats: Are Verbal Abuse

A verbally abusive spouse typically uses verbal threats to control his partner. He''ll threaten to leave if she doesn't do what he says, or intimidates her by saying if she leaves him she'll never make it on her own. He does this to make her insecure about their relationship and to instil in her a fear of losing him.

Shame: Is Emotional Abuse

Spousal verbal abuse can also evoke shame in the affected spouse. Repeatedly hearing comments such as "you're fat" or "you're no good" causes the victim to feel ashamed of who she is. The spouse may sarcastically or cruelly compare her to others who he feels possess what she lacks. Hence, she begins wishing she were someone else.

Purpose of Verbal Abuse

A spouse who inflicts verbal abuse upon her partner seeks to emotionally destroy him. She uses words as her weapon and often succeeds. If her words aren't powerful enough, she is not above resorting to the insidious "silent treatment." A verbally abusive spouse seeks to overcome her lack of self-esteem by shattering her partner's self-esteem.

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About the Author

Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.