Verbal Abuse versus Physical Abuse

verbal abuse learningMy blog posts mainly describe the experiences of a relationship with a verbally abusive man. The reason for this is because that is my personal experience and I can only tell it from that perspective. In no way am I implying that women are not abusive or narcissistic. In fact, I believe that emotional abuse crosses all boundaries and does not discriminate based on age, race, or gender.

My personal experience is mainly describing verbal abuse because he never hit me and it took me the longest time to figure out I was in an abusive relationship. I also have a post that states that Verbal Abuse is Worse than Physical Abuse. Although, there have been a few comments from people who disagree with that statement. The reason I say that is because how long someone can endure emotional abuse without even knowing they are in an abusive relationship. When I make this statement, “it was domestic abuse… but he never hit me” am I not minimizing the abuse?

It was domestic abuse… but he never hit me.  No, it was domestic abuse. Period.

Most of us understand what a physically abusive relationship looks like and we have seen it portrayed in television, movies, and talked about in the news. What nobody ever prepared me for was how to watch out for the subtle warning signs of a toxic verbally abusive relationship. An emotionally abusive relationship can absolutely tear you down emotionally. Many people have also made comments that long after their bruises healed, the pain of emotional abuse can last a lifetime… unless you continue to work on yourself, then I believe the pain lessens.

My relationship made me physically ill and it actually made me question my own sanity. In fact, I was so physically ill and was often visiting doctors trying to figure out what was wrong. Unfortunately, doctors couldn’t diagnose “bad marriage” based on my symptoms. Actually, I take that back, one doctor finally asked me “How is your marriage?”  I had never realized that a relationship could make you ill. I thought perhaps I am just one of those people who is sick.

The verbal abuse I experienced as a child with my father had a lot to do with why I picked a verbally abusive man to marry. I had no other frame of reference and that relationship probably felt pretty normal. During my childhood, my mother was continuously selecting less than healthy men. My stepfather was an alcoholic. I am not sure what was wrong with the other guys, but those relationships were not healthy and did not work out. So, I had no idea what a healthy relationship looked like. I am not blaming my mother because I know she did the best she knew how to do at the time. She is much healthier and strong today than she was when I was a kid.

Early in our relationship, I was only twenty-one years old and so young. When I first wrote in my journal about him, I kept saying how he was a too good to be true. That he was so handsome, intelligent, and how much I enjoyed our conversations. These feelings did not last long before I ended up in total confusion of why our relationship was so difficult. My gut instinct told me that it just shouldn’t be this hard. However, he would tell me, “All relationships have problems, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.” Oftentimes, he would make me feel it was my fault or my perspective that was the real problem.

Learning how not to let other people affect how I feel is still a challenge. My ex-husband had given me plenty of practice. Also, I had to learn how to setup and keep boundaries over the years. Plus, I had to realize that most people who wanted to give advice on that matter had zero experience dealing with controlling people like my ex-husband. Oftentimes, their advice that I need to keep trying to work with my abusive ex-husband was not the best advice. Keep reading, keep learning, keep growing, never stop… even when you fall down… get back up and learn some more.

The definition of insanity is when you keep trying to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

What I learned was trying different things over and over with my ex-husband was rather pointless. He has proven over the years that he does not want to get along. It seemed that he enjoyed the chaos and drama all while claiming he didn’t want that.

Perhaps in my next post we can talk about setting up boundaries with your abusive ex husband (or wife) because that is so important for personal health.

In Alanon we have a great saying…

Take what you like and leave the rest.

9 thoughts on “Verbal Abuse versus Physical Abuse

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  1. I always say I’m lucky my husband finally choked me and i am lucky i lived through that because after 22 years that’s what it took for me to realize that I was abused. 2 years later I got out and when the fog cleared that’s when I realized what emotional abuse was. Constantly trying to pointlessly explain things to him over and over hoping that if I said it differently I could make him understand. It’s all abuse but the physical part doesn’t hurt as bad as the crazy making emotional abuse. I’m doing great now though. Building my life up the way I want and not caring what others think of MY life.


  2. I can hardly believe how much this reflects my own experience. And I was speaking earlier today with my counselor about boundaries. I always thought I was crazy. I even had two breakdowns. I stayed for 25 years. Wow we could be twins. Thanks for sharing this. I am sorry for what you went through it sucked.


  3. I had back pain for nearly twenty years because I was married to an abusive man. Since I left two years ago, I haven’t had a single issue with my back. He was making me physically ill.


  4. I am in a relationship I concider abusive, but he never hits me, never verbally abuses me. And yet people tell me it isn’t really abuse, because it’s only abuse if those two things happen. In my church, I feel pressured to stay with him. Abuse is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been there.


  5. You stated, It seemed that he enjoyed the chaos and drama all while claiming he didn’t want that. If you Google, “why do narcissists create chaos”. Read about narcissist terms, and defence mechenisms as well as; denial, blaming shifting, gas lighting, minimizing, etc. Yes, it’s abuse, check out Professor Evan Stark, “Coersive Control”, it’s a indictable offence in the UK. Let me know what you think?


  6. Your story is so similar to mine the scary thing you said was. Everybody has trouble, mine says that to me all the time I realize reading your story when he says that to me it’s another form of abuse what he’s saying is its OK if I belittle you it’s OK if I scream in your face call you every name in the book etc etc… thanks for opening my eyes even wider.


  7. He never hit me was my line. If he had hit me then I would leave! I finally realized he was just one step away. He was a narcissistic Psychopath. I am so glad 6 months ago I had him removed from the home and he is only allowed to text me. He abused me. (Period!) The judge saw the abuse and granted my order of protection.


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