Verbal Abuse – Emotional Manipulative Tactic #3

While on one of the few girls trips that I was ‘allowed’ on, my girlfriend, Kaitlin confided that she was having problems with her marriage. I was shocked, as they seemed so happy. Kaitlin proceeded to tell me that her husband was verbally abusive. I was dumbstruck. It was hard to believe. She is one of the strongest women I know. Not only is Kaitlin extremely intelligent, independent and successful as CEO of her own company, she is stunning – the whole package deal and could have any man at her beck and call.  How had Kaitlin of all people put up with that kind of demeaning, abusive behavior?

However, much of what she said resonated with me. Scott and I had been seeing a marriage counselor for a while at this point.  And, when I expressed in the past to Scott that his words were hurtful, he would always say I was overreacting, being dramatic, exaggerating; completely disregarding my feelings.  So, when I returned home after that trip, I bought a copy of The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. My world changed with the first page. (more on that later)

patricia evans

In my book Year of Thorns, I refer to 17 emotional manipulative tactics of the narcissistic psychopath that I learned to identify in my path to recovery.  This was an important tool in my research to understand what happened to our family while we lived with someone with a severe personality disorder (that I learned later), and the challenges I faced throughout the divorce process.  By understanding the guiding principals and motivation behind those manipulative tactics, it became easier (over time) to identify each one and how best to respond (with practice).   I’m taking a detour from the order in my book, and introducing the first (and easiest) tactic to identify in this blog:

Emotional Manipulation #3 – Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is when a person forcefully criticizes, insults, or devalues someone else. Characterized by underlying anger and hostility, it is a destructive form of communication intended to harm the self-concept of the other person and produce negative emotions in attempt to control another through non-physical means. Verbal abuse, and most other types of abuse, is caused by an underlying disorder. Most often, the disorders are borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or sociopathy. Healthy people might occasionally lose their temper, leading to an outburst, but a consistent pattern of hurtful verbal abuse can only be the result of a deeper problem.

At first, I thought the problem I faced was verbal abuse, and that’s how I first started finding help. I began to read everything I could get my hands on.  But in my situation, like most, the verbal abuse was only one part of a bigger and more serious situation. This was true in Scott’s case, where he was later diagnosed with a personality disorder in his psychological evaluation. Part of my understanding of Scott’s disorder lead to my “light bulb moment”, where confusion and hurt suddenly opened up to insight — and the first steps to protecting myself (by identifying his emotional manipulation tactics) and to healing.


2 thoughts on “Verbal Abuse – Emotional Manipulative Tactic #3

  1. buffy362013 says:

    Emotional abuse and Domestic Violence was something I experienced in my previous relationships before I was married. I was also a victim of child abuse in my childhood. A few years after that relationship I was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, and that made it extremely difficult to prove that I wasn’t the abusive one. I have always been a very sensitive person, and that on top of being abused as a child also made it very hard for me to stand up to the abuse. I went out of my mind believing that I was ‘the crazy one’ because my abuser had managed to use my own illness against me, and had manipulated everyone into believing that I was abusing him. After working with a therapist and my doctor, I finally realized with their help that I was never an abuser, and I was lucky they picked up on this, even though it took many years for them to do so. My ‘unstable’ behaviour and emotions were ‘learned’ from my abuser, and my childhood, and to me they were so normal, I had problems recognizing who I really was. I have now been given the all clear from my consultant with regards to that disorder, though I am still dealing with some post traumatic stress because of what I went through.

    I spent many years being told and treated like I was worthless, and useless, taking many violent physical blows along the way. At one point I was even told ‘no-one would put up with me, because I was a waste of space and a useless mum. I was told I was thick and used as a punch bag too. It took me years to recover, and the post traumatic stress I have been left with, is sometimes very hard to deal with.

    Please tell your friend, that leaving an abuser is very difficult. I did leave permanently in the end, but I was re-victimized in my community too. Eventually I left the area all together and got married, although because of the trauma, I had to have a lot of support with bringing up my children and building my life back together. I was also homeless because of it for quite a long time. However, leaving is the first step to rebuilding her life after abuse, and it isn’t an easy ride, but she will find, like I did, that life is full of surprises and the freedom you get after leaving is a very good feeling, particularly when you start to achieve things you never thought you could do. I started championing mental health, writing and I was even able to re-build my relationship with my children after I got out of my abusive situation. I did have a lot of support with it, but today I still think it was the best thing I ever did. Me and my husband have had a rollercoaster ride because of what I went through, but we have been married over 20 years now, and our relationship is now loving, caring, warm, affectionate. We disagree like all couples, but we can now do that in a safe and friendly way.


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