How to deal with verbal abuse?

+96 votes
asked May 28, 2015 in Culture & Society by MurrayG25236 (260 points)
I’ve got a bit of a delicate situation, but feel like I really need some advice. My partner and I have been together for 11 years now and we have 2 small children. Since the birth of our youngest child, I haven’t been able to get back to work and my partner is feeling the financial strain of trying to support our family. He has also had to deal with stresses at work and the death of a family member. My partner is a good person and an excellent parent, but he has been under a lot of strain and it has started to manifest itself in what I believe is verbal abuse. The smallest things can set him off, yelling at me and criticising me. Let me be clear – I love my partner and I want to support him through this difficult time. I want to rebuild and repair our relationship. But I also need to be better equipped to deal with the verbal abuse. So how to deal with verbal abuse? I’d like to be able to diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand.

2 Answers

+13 votes
answered Jul 3, 2015 by Ross (1,800 points)

I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I really hope this information helps. A website dedicated to helping victims of abuse deals specifies that three things are involved in any emotionally charge situation:
1. The event that started it

2. The victim’s belief about what started it

3. The resulting emotions

Because it is an emotional situation, they point out that it is easy to jump straight from one to three without stopping to consider number two. If you can focus on changing your beliefs about what sets your partner off, then you may be able to control your response. For example, dinner is late. Your partner starts to verbally abuse you. You now have the choice of thinking a) “this is all my fault, I should have had dinner ready on time”, or b) “I know he had a stressful day at work and he just found the insurance bill on his way in the front door – he isn’t angry at me, he is frustrated and stressed”. Hopefully focusing on option b will help you to feel calmer and less hurt by what your partner is saying. It may also help you to address his poor behavior after he has calmed down.

Another important point that this website makes is the need to set clear boundaries for what is acceptable and what is not. If these boundaries are crossed then you need to take action, for the sake of you and your children.

Finally, talking to others can help. Whether it’s online forums and discussions like this one or a victim support network, talking to others who have had similar experiences can help you to see what is normal and how to move forward.

+7 votes
answered Sep 22, 2015 by BarrettSmall (280 points)
Another option may be to see a counselor or therapist – either with your partner (if he’s willing) or on your own. Then you can ask the expert how to deal with verbal abuse. Another thing to try is discussing with your partner how his abusive speech makes you feel. Choose a time when he is calm, relaxed and open to discussion. Then, explain to him how his speech is making you feel and why it is hurtful. Above all, if the abuse escalates, you need to consider your personal safety above all else. I know you are committed to your relationship, and that is admirable, but you need to be thinking of yourself and your two children.
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