My husband is constantly putting me down and shouting abuse at me. At first, it was just belittling me at home, but now I’ve noticed he is increasingly embarrassing me when we are out in public, or in company.
I believe that I am a kind person and a good wife. I think that he is wrong to treat me the way that he does, but I feel that it is easier to keep quiet and say nothing, in order to avoid arguments or confrontation.
It seems to be getting worse lately and I feel very low. How can I stop this as it is making me feel completely miserable?
Thank you for your help.
I am sorry to hear of your situation and you are right! Your husband is absolutely wrong to treat you this way! There is simply no place for verbal abuse in any aspect of life, let alone your marriage. Whether you are in the privacy of your own home, or out and about amongst people, it is never okay for your partner to speak to you in a disrespectful or derogatory way. You are right to want an end to it and to no longer tolerate this destructive behaviour.
Verbal abuse can be hard to recognise. It can threaten both your emotional and mental health. Statistically speaking, it often leads to forms of physical abuse as well. Although you are in no way at fault for your partner’s actions, you are responsible for your own well-being, therefore, be mindful that if ever you begin to feel uncomfortable, if ever you feel threatened or notice that your husband is becoming increasingly angry or hostile, it may wise to seek refuge with a trusted family member or friend. If ever your fear for your safety, do not hesitate to call the police.
Verbal abuse comes in different forms and can be tricky to identify. It is important that you trust your intuition as to the ways in which your partner is communicating with you and as to whether or not it is crossing a line. There are three common categories of verbal abuse.
- Gas lighting: This term describes the manipulative manner in which the abuser attempts to control a person’s sense of reality. For example, the abuser may convince a person over time that they are the irrational ones and that the abuse they are experiencing is a figment of their imagination. Victims often come to believe that they are crazy or somehow at fault for the anger or conflict within the relationship.
- Use of intimidating or threatening communication: An abuser may threaten physical violence. They may also threaten public humiliation or attempt to shame you in front of others. It is also common for an abuser to threaten to hurt themselves or the people around you if you do not do as they say. This type of behaviour is incredibly controlling. It is important that you do not endure this alone and that you seek help immediately.
- Attacking your self-worth: A verbal abuser may attempt to trivialise a person’s sense of self in order to make them feel powerless. They do this by undermining a person’s feelings, opinions or achievements. It is a direct assault to a person’s self-confidence and can be incredibly disarming.
You mention that you are feeling very low. This is a time to put yourself first and consider what is best for you moving forward. If you take anything away from this article let it be the notion that you are not obligated to remain in an abusive relationship and if you want to leave, you must find the courage to do so. It may be helpful for you to seek counselling in order to explore your options and to allow you the opportunity to speak about your experience within a safe and confidential space.
Remember Tessa that your partner’s behaviour is not a personal reflection of you. Rather than strive to make you feel loved, supported and cared for, your husband opts to communicate to you in an abusive manner that feels embarrassing, belittling and confrontational. I strongly suggest that if you wish to remain with your husband that you attend couples counselling in order to tackle this issue together. The counselling process will offer you as a sanctuary to discuss your feelings in a place that does not feel confrontational and importantly, a setting that will not permit your husband to become abusive.
Through therapy, it is possible for both the power dynamic as well as the communication patterns in your relationship to be improved over time. Ultimately, however, your husband must listen to your valid concerns and he must become aware that his behaviour needs to change in order for you to remain in the relationship. If your husband is incapable of change, or if you have had enough, be ready to walk away, for you deserve far better.
Wishing you strength and courage,