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What exactly is Verbal Abuse?

By July 9, 2008 - 2:44pm
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I'm wondering what constitutes verbal abuse?

I have a friend who has arguments with her long-term boyfriend that usually involve name-calling. Not low-down horrible names but more like accusations..."you don't trust me, you're too suspicious" or "you're being bitchy" or "stop being a control-freak". Nothing dreadful but the fights are frequent, usually about money and work commitments. He has called her the b word several times but she is kind of an instigator too, although I know no-one should be called any name. She has called him the male 'b' word too as well as the 'a' word.

Is this verbal abuse or just two people going about their relationships in a bad way?

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Name calling, denigration, critical attacks all amount to hateful language directed against another person and that seems like it falls in the category of verbal abuse, to me.

I agree with Tina: your friend needs to learn how to fight fairly, and get her BF to play fair, too. I know how hard that is when you're emotionally involved with the person who is engaged in this behavior. Often, it seems, the person who is behaving this way is acting out some deep frustration and anger.

Unfortunately, this is a behavior learned as a child. That's why I keep harping upon the necessity for parents to teach their children well. We mirror our parents - egads!

July 9, 2008 - 4:13pm

Of course we all have different levels of tolerance, but according to Patricia Evans, who wrote "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" anytime someone drops a name, that's considered verbal abuse ... Also here's Seven Signs You're in a Verbally Abusive Relationship adapted from the book.

1. He seems irritated or angry with you several times a week. When you ask why he's mad, he either denies it or tells you it's in some way your fault.
2. When you feel hurt and try to talk with him, the issues never get resolved. He might refuse to discuss your upset feelings by saying "You're just trying to start an argument!" or claiming he has no idea what you're talking about.
3. You frequently feel frustrated because you can't get him to understand your intentions.
4. You're upset—not so much about concrete issues like how much time to spend together, but about communication: what he thinks you said and what you heard him say.
5. You sometimes think, "What's wrong with me? I shouldn't feel so bad."
6. He seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything, and his opinion isn't stated as "I think," but as if you're wrong and he's right.
7. You can't recall saying "Cut it out!" or "Stop it!"

(Source: Oprah.com)

Also, I don't know how close you are with this friend, but you may want to suggest some sort of fair fighting. In the heat of emotion, we can tend to break the rules of fair fighting, but we need to be aware of them first.

Here's a few ways that other community members deal with fighting with their significant others.


July 9, 2008 - 3:16pm
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