How to Cope With an Emotionally & Verbally Abusive Husband
By Sharon O’Neil
Trying to cope with an emotionally and verbally abusive husband can be very difficult. Abusers create an unfair playing field so they can be in control. Tactics abusers use include intimidation, humiliation, coercion and isolation. Nearly one in seven American women have experienced this type of abuse by an intimate partner during the past 12 months, according to the 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.” While there is nothing you can do to make your husband stop being abusive, you can regain some control over your life to make it better.
Living with emotional and verbal abuse can take its toll on your health and general well-being. Take care of yourself and find healthy ways to deal with the stress of an abusive marriage. Eat healthy foods and try to get enough rest. Remind yourself of your unique qualities and talents. Indulge in a hobby or interest you enjoy. Try starting an exercise routine or reading a good book to escape for a while.
Keep your support system strong. Try to maintain your relationships with friends and family as much as you can. Your husband may try to limit the amount of time you spend with others or sabotage your friendships. Tell them what is going on so they will understand if they don’t hear from you.
Learn about the dynamics of abusive relationships. Knowing more about the pattern of abuse will help you understand that the abuse is not your fault but is something your husband chooses to do. Speak to a domestic violence advocate in your community.
Set some boundaries with your husband. When he starts a verbal tirade, do not engage and try matching his abuse. Psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker’s article “Signs You Are Verbally Abused: Part II,” published on the Psych Central website, suggests calmly letting him know that you are sorry he feels that way, but that you expect him to treat you with respect. If he continues, simply walk out of the room and give him time to cool off.
Prepare a safety plan. In its post “What Is Safety Planning?” The National Domestic Violence Hotline stresses the importance of developing a practical, personalized plan to stay safe while in an abusive relationship, when leaving an abuser or after the relationship is over. Even if your husband has never been physically violent, verbal and emotional abuse can quickly escalate to physical abuse. Your plan should include identifying safe areas of your home and planning an escape route. You should keep a phone with you at all times and know who you can call for help. Create a code word or signal so trusted friends and neighbors know if you need emergency assistance.