What are Some Examples of Verbal Abuse? What is considered verbal abuse?

examples of verbal abuseMy husband says I am verbally abusive to him but I don’t think that I am. I do sometimes say things out of anger but I don’t think what I say constitutes abuse. What are some examples of verbal abuse?”

That’s a great question. There are a lot of misconceptions about verbal abuse and what actually constitutes abusive behavior in a marriage.

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Types of Verbal Abuse

Sometimes verbal abuse stems from anger. A person may call their spouse names during an argument when tempers are flaring. When verbal abuse stems from anger management issues, treatment usually involves learning new ways to resolve conflict, manage anger, and communicate.

At other times, verbal abuse stems from a desire to control the other person. In these cases, it usually happens regularly and is meant to make the other person feel bad in order to obtain a sense of power and control.

When verbal abuse occurs because a person wants to obtain control over the other person, treatment needs vary. If a counselor is assured that there is not any physical abuse occurring in the marriage, couples treatment may include helping each partner take responsibility for their own behavior while addressing the shame/blame cycle.

Name Calling

We talked about name calling and what it is above, note that it also may include derogatory pet names that one person calls the other.


Verbal abuse may also include threats. For example, one person may say things such as, “I’ll leave with the kids and you’ll never be able to see them again.” These types of threats can be very damaging to the trust in a marriage.

Put Downs

Put downs can be more subtle than outright name calling but can be just as damaging. Put downs go beyond teasing. It may include saying things such as, “You’d be able to balance the checkbook correctly if you could actually knew how to add and subtract.”


Intimidation can also be part of verbal abuse. It sometimes has more to do with a person’s tone of voice rather than what a person says. For example, it may involve yelling or slamming a fist on the table while making demands.

Seek Treatment

If your husband feels that you are verbally abusive, it’s important to seek help, regardless of whether or not you think you are verbally abusive. Talking to a marriage counselor together can help improve your marriage and assist in regaining trust.

Wishing you much success in your relationship,

Shlomo and Rivka Slatkin

P.S. You can also check out our program, The Marriage Restoration Project: The Five-Step Action Plan to Saving Your Marriage. We include a *very important* chapter on verbal abuse and how you can eradicate it in your marriage!