Verbal & Emotional Abuse

Surviving Domestic Violence (SDV)

Verbal & Emotional Abuse

Excerpted from Dr. Irene Matiatos' Verbal Abuse Site at: Distributed freely for non-commercial
or educational purposes. For commercial distribution, contact the author at

Do you wonder if your relationship is abusive? Ask yourself the questions
below. If you answer yes to more than a few, you may want to take a closerlook:

Does your partner:
  • ignore your feelings?

  • disrespect you?
  • ridicule or insult you then tell you it's a joke?
  • ridicule your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class?
  • withold approval, appreciation or affection?
  • give you the silent treatment?
  • criticize you, call you names, yell at you?
  • humiliate you in public or private?
  • give you a hard time about socializing with friends or family?
  • make you socialize (and keep up appearances) even when you're ill?
  • make sure that what you really want is exactly what you don't get?
  • tell you that you're too sensitive?
  • hurt you especially when you're down?
  • seem energized by fighting, while fighting exhausts you?
  • have unpredictable mood swings, alternating from good to bad for no apparent reason?
  • present a wonderful face to the world and is well liked by outsiders?
  • twist your words, turning what you said against you?
  • try to control decisions, money, clothing or hair style?
  • complain about how badly you treat him?
  • threaten to leave or to throw you out?
  • say things that make you feel good, but do things that make you feel bad?
  • ever left you stranded?
  • ever threaten to hurt you or your family?
  • ever hit or pushed you, even "accidentally?"
  • seem to stir up trouble just when you seem to be getting closer to each other?
  • abuse something you love: a pet, child or object?
  • compliment you enough to keep you happy, yet criticize you enough to keep you insecure?
  • promise to never do something hurtful again?
  • harass you about imagined affairs?
  • manipulate you with lies and contradictions?
  • destroy furniture, punch holes in walls, break appliances?
  • drive like a road-rage junkie?
  • act immature and selfish, then accuse you of those behaviors?
  • question your every move and motive, and your competence?
  • interrupt you; hear but not really listen?
  • make you feel like you can't win?
  • use drugs/alcohol and things get worse?
  • incite you to rage, which is "proof" you are to blame?
  • try to convince you that he is right while you are wrong?
  • frequently say things that he later denies, or accuse you of not understanding?

    Your situation is critical if the following applies to you:

    **You express your opinions less and less freely.
    **You find yourself walking on eggshells, careful of how and when to say something.
    **You long for that softer, more vulnerable part of your partner to emerge.
    **You find yourself making excuses for your abuser's behavior.
    **You feel emotionally unsafe.
    **You feel it's somehow not okay to discuss your relationship with others.
    **You hope things will change, especially through your love and understanding.
    **You find yourself doubting your memory's or sense of reality.
    **You doubt your own judgment.
    **You doubt your abilities.
    **You feel vulnerable and insecure.
    **You are becoming increasingly depressed.
    **You feel increasingly trapped and powerless.
    **You have been or are afraid of your partner.
    **Your partner has physically hurt you, even once.

    If you feel your relationship may be verbally and emotionally abusive, talk
    to people you trust. Talk to clergy, call your local battered women's
    shelter, educate yourself, seek professional help. Do not allow verbal and emotional abuse to escalate into battery.

    Required reading:
    Patricia Evans' The Verbally Abusive Relationship
    Ginny Nicarthy's Getting Free: You Can End Abuse and Take Back Your Life

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