Characteristics of a Verbally Abusive Husband

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Does your husband make fun of you or yell a lot in a way that makes you feel bad about yourself? If this sounds familiar, it is possible that the relationship could be considered verbally abusive. Many people fail to realize that verbal abuse can be as harmful to psychological well-being as physical forms of domestic violence, says Stephen Stosny, Ph.D. in a Psychology Today article entitled, "Effects of Emotional Abuse: It Hurts To Love." Characteristics of a verbally abusive husband can include factors associated with how he treats his spouse, background and specific personality traits. Being able to recognize the signs of an abusive spouse can help prepare you to deal with the situation.

Verbal Abuse Characteristics

Verbal abuse is a form of non-physical emotional or psychological abuse that can include name calling, threatening, saying embarrassing or belittling things or yelling, says Tina de Benedictis, Ph.D. and colleagues for the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. It is typically a means of obtaining control in the relationship. Husbands often attempt to exert their power by threatening harm, isolation from friends or family or abandonment, according to Stosny. Even though verbal abuse does not include physical injury, it can be just as damaging as other forms.

Psychology and Individual Characteristics

Factors associated with an antisocial personality and depressive symptoms are commonly found among husbands who verbally abuse their wives according to a study published in the Journal of Injury Prevention by C Peek-Asa and colleagues. These characteristics can include aggression, anger, a tendency to manipulate, sadness or anxiety. Though they might not directly cause spousal abuse, these and other similar attributes can increase its intensity and severity. Men who believe in strict gender roles may also resort to verbal abuse.

Family History

Aspects of family history can predispose a man to be verbally abusive to his wife. Specifically, a family history of crime and substance abuse was found to be associated with psychological abuse in men says a 2010 study published in the "Journal of Interpersonal Violence." Witnessing family violence between parents can also contribute to a child growing up to become an abuser. These findings suggest that this type of domestic abuse may be learned from experiencing similar relationships during childhood and having no alternative models for interacting with loved ones.


Factors, such as financial-related stress, can both intensify verbal abuse and increase its occurrence. Unemployment, having few friends and insecurity can also be influential, says the American Psychological Association. Even though certain situations may cause stress, they are not excuses for your husband to become verbally abusive. If you or someone you know is suffering at the hands of an abusive husband, it is important that you notice the signs and seek help.