The Verbally Abusive Relationship

September 10, 2012 — 8 Comments

The concept of verbal abuse is still new in our world. Many of us still don’t really know what verbal abuse is or how to deal with it. For that reason, I often recommend Patricia Evan’s book The Verbally Abusive Relationship to my clients.

As a psychotherapist, what I like about the book is that it spells out the characteristics and categories of verbal abuse, as well as our basic rights in a relationship.I’m going to list them here so that you can better understand the concept of verbal abuse.a couple fighting

Verbal Abuse is Disrespectful and Hurtful

Verbal abuse is a negative way of talking that is disrespectful and hurtful. It attacks the nature and abilities of a partner. It can be overt or covert. It can be voiced in an extremely sincere and concerned way. Verbal abuse is manipulative and controlling. It disregards, disrespects or devalues a person. It’s often unpredictable.

Verbal Abuse often expresses a double message between how the person is talking and his or her real feelings. It usually escalates over time, increasing in intensity, frequency and variation.

Often, verbal abuse is the real problem in a relationship
and the reason why issues never get resolved.

Patricia Evan’s 15 Categories of Verbal Abuse:

1. Withholding: Unwillingness to share deeply or to support your partner empathetically.

2. Countering: Not allowing your partner to have a different perspective than your own.

3. Discounting: Denying and distorting your partner’s reality and experience.

4. Negative joking: Making put down remarks under the guise of wit and style.

5. Blocking and diverting: Blaming, switching topics or stopping communication.

6. Accusing and blaming: Blaming your partner for your own anger or insecurity.

7. Judging and criticizing: Negating your partner’s feelings of criticizing who they are.

8. Trivializing: Subtle interpretation that your partner’s perception is insignificant.

9. Undermining: Eroding your partner’s self-esteem by implying inadequacy.

10. Threatening: Controlling your partner by bringing up their greatest fears.

11. Name calling: Overt put-downs or sarcasm.

12. Forgetting: Manipulating your partner by denying previous agreements.

13. Ordering or demanding: Giving orders instead of asking respectfully.

14. Denying: Denying the reality of your partner or what you are doing to them.

15. Angry outbursts: Exhibiting angry outbursts when your partner doesn’t do what you want.

Patricia Evan’s 15 Basic Rights in a Relationship:

1. The right to good will from your partner.

2. The right to emotional support.

3. The right to be heard and responded to with courtesy.

4. The right to have your own view or your own perception.

5. The right to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real.

6. The right to receive a sincere apology for any jokes you find offensive.

7. The right to clear answers to questions concerning what is legitimately your business.

8. The right to live free from accusation and blame.

9. The right to live free from criticism and judgment.

10. The right to have your work and your interests spoken of with respect.

11. The right to encouragement.

12. The right to live free from emotional and physical threat.

13. The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage.

14. The right to be called by no name that devalues you.

15. The right to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.

My only issue with Patricia Evan’s book is that she writes it as if the verbal abuser is male and the victim is female. As a psychotherapist, I know that verbal abuse is not gender related. There are many women who are verbal abusers as well as men. If you simply keep that fact in mind while you read, I know you’ll find this book very helpful!

Please click the link below to order The Verbally Abusive Relationship from

The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond

Leave a Comment or a Question

I’d love to hear your comments and questions.

Have you experienced anything like this in your life?

What would you like to hear more about?

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8 responses to The Verbally Abusive Relationship

  1. Thank you! I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  2. You have brought up some great points! I appreciate the post!

  3. Incredible material! I’ve become quite aware of these issues recently.

  4. I wish getting over a broken heart can be so easy as following a few steps.. but its not… :(

    • Hi there, I am absolutely aware that broken hearts are very painful. I’ve experienced that too. But when we are willing to take time for healing and learn from our past mistakes, we have the opportunity to do better next time around! I wish you love and hope for healing. Blessings, Kari Joys

  5. Hi, I to am new to this blogging thing but I found this thru Google looking for some healing. Boy oh boy, Verbal Abuse hit right home for me. How could someone who says they love you behave in such a way? I enjoy your site very much, thank you!

  6. Thanks for your comment. I don’t know of any discussion boards right now, but good luck finding one! Blessings, Kari

  7. WOW! I appreciate you elaborating on the fact that verbal abuse happens to both men and women. I value the eye opening statements you have posted, some of them really hit home and add some comfort to my own experiences as well as helped me realize I have some work to do on my own way of communicating to the ones I love. Thank you for the endless efforts :)

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