Find out if your partner is verbally abusing you
Abuse comes in many forms and verbal abuse can be considered as one of the worse ways to treat a partner as it usually happens out of nowhere. The person at the receiving end gets berated and put down daily, how is that going to make the person feel? Should you continue living in such a relationship?
Sometimes, a simple comment may seem innocent and a remark can be made innocuously. It depends on how the message was put across. But sometimes, even ‘casually saying’ can sound like an attack. So how can we determine if you’re living with a partner who verbally abuses you?
How to know if your partner is verbally abusing you?
While it is easy to spot when a physical abuse takes place, how can we tell when a person is being verbally abused? Here are some signs to watch out for:
Is your partner calling you names? If you feel that the name is putting you down, then it most likely is. When he starts using terms to indicate you are half-witted or dumb, it is derogatory and these words have no place in a relationship. These negative name-calling chips away at your self-esteem and confidence, and is unacceptable. Verbal abusers tend to end off with remarks such as asking you to take their ‘criticism’ constructively and taking this time to improve on yourself. Making it feel like it was your fault.
At another attempt to belittle you, your partner often disguises his thoughts about you in sarcasm and sarcastic tones in your communication, even in front of your kids.
For instance, “You’re eating this again? Boring! Is that all she can cook?”
“This is so simple and yet you don’t understand.”
“Did you put on your makeup? You look totally the same.”
3. Degrading or shaming you
Using various ways to degrade you in the way you talk, if you make sense or logic, about your intelligence whether alone or in a public setting with a group of close-enough friends can be considered as verbal abuse. It is the little words that ebb into your self-confidence and make you doubt your worthiness, making you feel ashamed and inferior. You partner will also feel a sense of superiority over you.
It seems like there is no way for you to win these words of war because somehow he’s always right, or that he’s the only one who makes sense because (as above) he has made you inferior about yourself. Your partner consistently blames you for his outburst or anger because of something you are doing or your behaviour.
He is always getting you to do things the way he wants. It is always what he wants, and he uses words to threaten you into complying with his wishes and desires even though you’re not comfortable with it. This is in direct relation with point 4, victim-blaming, where he manipulates the scenario to put the blame on you. Someone who loves you will never threaten you to get things his way. Threats create fear, and if it causes you to be constantly on your guard in a relationship, then it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Example: Are you sure this is what you want? Are you sure? (notes tone)
“If you’re doing that, then you can forget about getting any allowance from me!”
5. Giving you the silent treatment or isolation
This is a common tactic of abusers trying to abuse you without using any words. We’re not waiting to see who is going to give in eventually. It is the silence that makes you feel unsure about what to do next, how to break the ice just to get their attention. This is emotionally abusive and tolling, and it can be hurtful to the relationship in the long run.
6. They command orders at you
Yes, you heard that right. Many times we do things obligingly just to be helpful around the house. For instance, helping to throw away the rubbish or clean up after a spill of coffee powder that he may not have noticed. But it is another topic altogether if he says “Go and clean up the kitchen!” Without respectfully communicating to you partner-to-partner, he barks orders at you and makes you feel subservient to his requests.
7. He is dismissive
He has no regards for your emotions and the way they turn out, even if he is the one at fault. He refuses to discuss the issues and avoids talking about it altogether or he can be ignoring you even as you try to talk about it. Such behaviours are trying to dismiss you that what you are communicating is not important and can be a general lack of respect.
Gaslighting is a tactic that makes you question if your feelings and actions are wrong, even if you are right in the first place. This can make you more dependent on the abuser eventually and often having to apologise for issues or behaviours that you didn’t commit.
For instance, you brought up an event that took place but he denies the actuality of events and blames it on your forgetfulness or your sensitivity.
What happens after you’re being verbally abused?
The person who is being verbally abused usually start questioning themselves, usually of their self-worth, their abilities. They will start to wonder if they are overreacting in most situations, or even blame themselves whether they did right or wrong.
The self-esteem for a person who is being verbally abused usually gets eaten up bit by bit until they no longer feel they are good enough for anything at all. You might constantly feel that you are walking on eggshells around your partner for fear when they will start picking on you again. You experience a high level of insecurity and a general sense of unease which is unhealthy in a relationship.
What to do if you’re in a verbally abusive relationship
Being in a relationship is like signing off on a mutual agreement where both parties should be learning to accept each other’s flaws, uplift and build each other up. Communication is very important if you want the relationship to work.
However, if your partner habitually verbally abuses you and dismisses your emotions, you will start seeing yourself and your needs as unimportant and irrelevant. Try setting boundaries and being honest about how something makes you feel. Cite specific examples of how a certain situation makes you feel so, or a certain word/ liner diminish your confidence. Make sure that you are in a safe setting before you approach your partner. Often than not, you will find it hard to reason with a verbal abuser, but you can definitely refuse to engage in unreasonable arguments.
Verbal abuse can take a toll on a person’s well-being and mental health, don’t ever shy away from calling a close friend, family member or your local helpline if you need help. Remember, you do not have to settle for a partner who doesn’t value you.