Is Your Spouse Abusive?

Verbal abuse is something either gender can do.  Although there is a whole network of help for abused women, many wives also rage at their husbands for hours, call them cruel and belittling names, and withhold affection to get things done “their way.”  So in honor of both the abused wives and abused husbands, throughout our pages we make sure to keep references gender neutral or make sure to say “he or she.”

Do you wonder if your relationship may be abusive? Ask yourself the questions below. If you answer ‘yes’ to more than a few, you may want to take a closer look.

Does your partner: 

Updated January 2007

bullet ignore your feelings?
bullet disrespect you?
bullet ridicule or insult you then tell you its a joke, or that you have no sense of humor?
bullet ridicule your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class?
bullet withhold approval, appreciation or affection?
bullet give you the silent treatment?
bullet walk away without answering you?
bullet criticize you, call you names, yell at you?
bullet humiliate you privately or in public?
bullet roll his or her eyes when you talk?
bullet give you a hard time about socializing with your friends or family?
bullet make you socialize (and keep up appearances) even when you don’t feel well?
bullet seem to make sure that what you really want is exactly what you won’tget?
bullet tell you you are too sensitive?
bullet hurt you especially when you are down?
bullet seem energized by fighting, while fighting exhausts you?
bullet have unpredictable mood swings, alternating from good to bad for no apparent reason?
bullet present a wonderful face to the world and is well liked by outsiders?
bullet “twist” your words, somehow turning what you said against you?
bullet try to control decisions, money, even the way you style your hair or wear your clothes?
bullet complain about how badly you treat him or her?
bullet threaten to leave, or threaten to throw you out?
bullet say things that make you feel good, but do things that make you feel bad?
bullet ever left you stranded?
bullet ever threaten to hurt you or your family?
bullet ever hit or pushed you, even “accidentally”?
bullet seem to stir up trouble just when you seem to be getting closer to each other?
bullet abuse something you love: a pet, a child, an object?
bullet compliment you enough to keep you happy, yet criticize you enough to keep you insecure?
bullet promise to never do something hurtful again?
bullet harass you about imagined affairs?
bullet manipulate you with lies and contradictions?
bullet destroy furniture, punch holes in walls, break appliances?
bullet drive like a  road-rage junkie?
bullet act immature and selfish, yet accuse you of those behaviors?
bullet question your every move and motive, somehow questioning your competence?
bullet interrupt you; hear but not really listen?
bullet make you feel like you can’t win? damned if you do, damned if you don’t?
bullet use drugs and/or alcohol involved? are things worse then?
bullet incite you to rage, which is “proof” that you are to blame?
bullet try to convince you he or she is “right,” while you are “wrong?”
bullet frequently say things that are later denied or accuse you of misunderstanding?
bullet treat you like a sex object, or as though sex should be provided on demand regardless of how you feel?

Your situation is critical if the following applies to you:

bullet You express your opinions less and less freely.
bullet You find yourself walking on eggshells, careful of when and how to say something.
bullet You long for that softer, more vulnerable part of your partner to emerge.
bullet You find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior?
bullet You feel emotionally unsafe.
bullet You feel its somehow not OK to talk with others about your relationship.
bullet You hope things will change…especially through your love and understanding.
bullet You find yourself doubting your memory or sense of reality.    
bullet You doubt your own judgment.        
bullet You doubt your abilities.   
bullet You feel vulnerable and insecure.   
bullet You are becoming increasingly depressed. 
bullet You feel increasingly trapped and powerless. 
bullet You have been or are afraid of your partner.
bullet 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 to battery!

(reprint of Dr. Irene’s: “Signs of Verbal and Emotional Abuse“)

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1 thought on “Is Your Spouse Abusive?

  1. Now this article confirms to my husband that ‘I’ am abusive because of the way I am handling his abuse, cheating, and traumatizing me for three months. It has been two years but I am an emotional wreck, have nightmares, insomnia, depression. So I do many of the things on thus list which were caused by him. Now he has decided to not hurt me anymore and believes I have made him suffer enough. He says I am unforgiving and verbally abusive. No he has pushed me over the edge mentally and I don’t think I can recover. I want him to hug and heal me but I am aware now that he has the ability to hurt me beyond what I can bear. So my choices alone torment me. I love him and how we are together. I can’t afford to live on my own. I have chronic back pain. I have absolutely no desire to with another man ever. I will never trust another man again, ever. So what do I do? He has broken every promise he made me. Hurt me off and on for five years. He has bipolar disorder and goes into extreme manias. I always forgave and forgot until he cheated and completely traumatized me. Now I am verbally abusive because I keep repeating the details of his betrayal and my pain? This article needs to be in context because someone who has been betrayed and going through PTSD is going to do a lot of these things but not be abusive.

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