Verbal abuse can create just as much damage as physical abuse. Even if it does not take the form of yelling, verbal abuse can occur when a partner mutters spiteful or uncharitable comments to his partner. This form of abuse is intended to decrease a woman's sense of self-worth. Fortunately, women can defend themselves against such verbal attacks by asserting control when interacting with their partners.
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Work on building your own self-esteem. One of the most common reasons why a woman chooses to marry an abusive husband is her own low self-esteem. While few women or men are powerful enough to retrain a spouse, every individual has the power to change her own behaviour. Instead of focusing on her husband's shortcomings, she can focus on her own strengths. Several ways to build one's self-esteem include getting involved as a volunteer to help the needy, liberating oneself from perfectionist tendencies and refusing to engage in negative thinking patterns.
Discuss your emotions objectively. In the midst of an argument, emotions tend to cloud your sense of reason. Usually this places both a woman and her husband at a disadvantage. While her husband resorts to tactics of verbal abuse, a woman's only defence is her ability to deflect these attacks with the aid of reason. Otherwise, she will accept his faulty logic as gospel. Thus, when attempting to resolve issues during an argument, a woman must strive to maintain control of her emotions. While she may discuss how she feels, she must not allow her emotions to reduce her capability to emerge from an argument with her dignity intact.
Learn to practice conflict-resolution skills. Many wives respond to their husbands' verbal abuse by pointing out his faults. Instead of resolving conflicts, they simply prolong them or in certain cases incite them. Instead of squabbling with your spouse, learn to be a peacemaker. This does not mean to simply aim to please but rather to learn how to be the centre of calm in the midst of a catastrophic hurricane.
Fairly divide responsibilities in your relationship. Sometimes when spouses fail to motivate one another, they become indecisive as a result. Such indecisiveness tempts both a man and a woman to forgo important responsibilities in a relationship. Completing simple chores such as washing the laundry may prove to be difficult. To move forward in the relationship, a wife must learn both to accept certain responsibilities as well as to deny others. For example, if a husband is responsible for bringing home the paycheck, she should not permit herself to feel guilty if he loses a large chunk of his paycheck by drinking or gambling.
Get others involved. Victims of verbal abuse may be hesitant to seek help, considering verbal abuse less serious than physical abuse. However, abuse of any sort creates inequity within a relationship. Marriage counselling can work to repair some of the deeper problems at the root of verbal abuse. Alternatively, family or friends can help to address the issue of verbal abuse. Others may be waiting in the wings, ready to speak up if invited to do so. However, if you chose to involve others, be sure that you will not simply unite to gossip about your husband's behaviour. Instead, simply invite them to take an uncompromising stand against your husband's behaviour.
Tips and warnings
- Be aware of the effect that your husband's verbal abuse may be having on your children. Have the courage to protect them, even if you have a hard time summoning enough courage to protect yourself.
- Death threats are more than just verbal abuse, and they must be taken seriously. If your husband threatens you in this way, you have every right to protect yourself by filing a restraining order.
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