First of all, I will tell you one thing: Abuse is never justified. It does not matter if this is only name-calling or criticism. Any kind of abuse, including verbal abuse, is not justified. Therefore, it is never your fault that your partner uses abuse in the relationship. Never feel guilty because of that. The most important thing to remember about verbal abuse is that its purpose is to control. The key to responding to verbal abuse is learning how to break free of the control and get your power back. Here are some tips how to do that:
1. Let the abuser know how hurtful their words are.
I know it is not easy when you do not know how to start such conversation or when you have already done so and he denied or has not listened. But when you do not tell him what you feel, he might assume that there is nothing wrong. Set the boundaries on which you will and will not accept from your abuser. If he denies, makes excuses when you say that his words are hurtful, then it means that his verbal abuse is deliberate and he is doing that for purpose. Then the next step is serious talk about ending the relationship.
2. Seek counselling, either together or separately.
In most cases, you will have to deal with the problem of verbal abuse on your own. He may deny or “promise” that it will never happen again. But even if, you have to work on your assertiveness and setting boundaries, dealing with your fears of him and helplessness. These are just some, not all, challenges that need help of an experienced counsellor.
3. Surround yourself with a support system of family and friends.
Apart from your counsellor, you have to have helpful people, who support you and understand your situation. Otherwise, you will face even more problems and it will be ease to make you feel guilty or to tell you that it is your fault. Avoid all the people, also from your family, who are not understanding. You do not have to keep contact with everyone for every sake.
4. If the verbal abuse escalates to physical abuse, leave.
Unfortunately, in most cases verbal abuse precedes the physical one. Even if you are not physically abused yet, consider a serious talk with your partner and firmly demand treatment with respect. When he finds excuses or denies, I suggest you considering ending of the relationship.
5. Do not engage in conflict with your abuser.
This will only worsen your situation and will prove him, that the argument is your fault. If your partner becomes angry stay calm, walk away and don’t give him what they want, which just means – a reaction from you. How to stay calm? Learn and use relaxation techniques, like breathing, focusing on now. If you manage to stay calm and stop from reacting to his provocations, you will gain the power.
6. Leave the relationship.
It is time to consider divorce or separation if setting boundaries, getting therapy and refusing to respond to the abuse does not work. If he has promised you that he will stop abusing you and he did not, then you know that he will not change. You can only change your situation, taking life in your hands.