Perhaps your wife automatically takes a viewpoint opposite yours and tells you that you are always wrong. Maybe your husband points out your mistakes or calls you names. Over time, these verbal attacks can destroy your identity and poison your sense of self-worth. If you are experiencing verbal abuse, several strategies can help you build your strength, stop the situation and find help.
Find a Limit
Set boundaries to protect yourself. If your significant other is verbally attacking you, stop the conversation. Let him or her know that you are listening. Assert that you would like to hear his or her thoughts and concerns about the situation. Notify your partner that you will stop talking if he or she makes the conversation about you as a person and not the situation.
Identify with Your Strengths
Verbal abuse can leave you with a "victim" identity, writes Steven Stosny, a relationship therapist, in "Emotional Abuse (Overcoming Victim Identity)," on Psychology Today's website. Strengthen yourself against abuse by identifying your strengths and positive character traits. For example, if your partner ridicules your intelligence, shift your attention to your core strengths: You are smart, you are business savvy, you are good at problem solving. This proves your partner's name-calling and ridicule wrong.
Don't Fight Verbal Fire With Fire
Don't return the verbal attacks. This escalates the fight and may make matters worse. Instead, tell your significant other that you have heard his or her remarks but don't agree, writes Marie Hartwell-Walker, a psychologist, in "Signs You Are Verbally Abused: Part II" on the PsychCentral website. This may help diffuse the situation and stop the verbal abuse.
Connect to a Support System
Fill your life with people who can counter the verbal abuse that you are experiencing. Spend time with family or friends who support your strengths and love you. Consider joining a community group or support group consisting of people who have had similar experiences and understand what you are feeling. By having a place to share your heart and your feelings, you can avoid the sense of isolation.
Communicate How Much You Can Give
Often, the verbal abuser is trying to get something out of you. Be honest with yourself and your partner about whether you can meet his or her requests. For example, your significant other may get angry because he or she wants you to spend more time at home. Outline what you are willing to do to make your partner happy. Stick with it and be bold enough to reject his or her demands if they fall outside of what you have agreed to do in this relationship. Over time, your partner may learn to respect this agreement, so long as you don't waver.
Avoid Physical Conflict
You may need counseling. If the verbal abuse turns physical, leave the situation immediately and seek professional help. If you aren't sure where to turn, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline,1-800-799-7233.
- YourTango: 10 Ways To Tell If You Are In A Verbally Abusive Relationship
- Psychology Today: Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones
- PsychCentral: In an Emotionally Abusive Relationship? 5 Steps to Take
- Psychology Today: Emotional Abuse (Overcoming Victim Identity)
- PsychCentral: Signs You Are Verbally Abused
- Chicago Tribune: Are You a Victim of Verbal Abuse?
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