Verbal Abuse: A False Fight

September 11, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

When I heard my ex-husband tell me what I was thinking, doing or feeling, he was usually wrong. He painted a picture of me that was so far from my reality that I felt it was imperative to correct him; I was not the person he described. The argument that followed invariably left me in tears, hurt and feeling unheard, misunderstood, and hopeless of finding intimacy with the man I loved.

I wondered why he married me when he thought I was such a selfish, conniving, miserable woman. I was the same woman at 35 as I had been at 20. His constant nit-picking at my faults (and my willingness to examine myself to see if he was right) practically halted my personal development. I spent so much time double-checking who I was that I didn't have time to consider who I would like to be.

The woman I may have become if emotional and verbal abuse were absent from my life is lost to me.

I am okay with that. Anger over what might have been would only eat away at my peace of mind and prohibit my future growth as well.

I am a bit angry at myself for spending so much of my life fighting him over nothing. Who I am is not nothing; but his ideas of me are nothing. Who he says I am amounts to nothing more than hateful energy that I could have dispelled from my psyche if I hadn't placed such grand importance on his silly words.

Verbal Abusers Manipulate With Lies

When you argue with your abuser, do you often think, "What are we arguing about? What started this?" If so, you can be sure that lies wove a web over the core issue in order to distract you from the truth.

One example that comes easily to my mind is that my abuser used to call me a whore. I would get so upset over that! I knew I wasn't what he said, and I did everything in my power to prove to him how wrong he was.

Meanwhile, my abuser visited the red light district in Frankfurt because it was his friend's birthday. He lost his wedding ring twice because he was helping friends pick up girls. He lied about going camping in Nebraska and came home early because he felt guilty for having a bachelor's party a year and a half after we were married. He drunkenly told my brother in law "I hit that" in reference to the girl with whom I was sure he'd cheated on me.

And yet at every turn, my loyalty was found lacking, my nature was in question, I was the whore. I allowed the insult to my character to override the truth. He got off the hook because he placed his sins onto me and I accepted them!

Stop Fighting and Think

When you find yourself forgetting what you're arguing about, listen for a moment to find who is doing the attacking. Be silent long enough to remember the trigger to the argument yourself. How far away from the original point have you come? What did you say that seemed to trigger their rage, and at what point did things get confusing? fight

My guess is that somewhere in that moment before all hell broke loose, you were right about something. My second guess is that now, at this tearful, angry part of the argument, you are defending yourself for nothing.

The nothing you are defending is your true self against your abuser's made up version of you. Your abuser's imagined version of you does not exist. His or her imagined belief about you is nothing but hateful energy - it is not real. There is nothing to fight.

On the other hand, your abuser may be saying things s/he knows are not true! Your abuser may be hurting you on purpose to distract you from the truth. In this case also, there is nothing to fight.

Stop fighting.

Simply stop fighting.

Your abuser has exited reality and entered their own imagination, and you are expected to join them there in that space where they will win. They will always win when they pull you into their personal alternate reality because that is their private territory. Don't be pulled into their imagination; if you go there, you will fight endlessly over nothing.

Stay in your own mind. Pay attention to your own truths. Refuse to believe their lies. Stay present in your own reality. Stop fighting nothing.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, September 11). Verbal Abuse: A False Fight, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

September, 12 2011 at 6:09 am

You articulated the frustration of dealing with this type of abuse so well.
In addition to pulling one into their imaginary reality, these verbal abusers' inane logic can make one question one's own sanity: is this real? is what they're saying about me real? Maybe I really am a (fill in the blank)...

September, 12 2011 at 6:31 am

Oh Sherrie and Kellie, how right you both are. Since I have finally recognized my abuser's tactics, she insists that I am a poor communicator since I son't just agree and go along with her demands anymore. I still get sucked into questioning myself and believing her a lot. But, since I do not just take my marching orders and I say how I see things, I am told I do not know how to communicate and I am ruining our relationship. I do not just immediatley go along with her demands anymore and I am the one with the issues. I am crazy and selfish for not seeing things her way. Thanks for reminding me to stay focused on my thoughts. I am not crazy or dumb like she tries to tell or prove to me.

September, 12 2011 at 9:08 am

This article gave me lots of insight and inspiration. Not only me , my mom , my papa and my brothers who have so far been polite and decent are being abused verbally. He conjures up stories like "they are sucking his blood, he is the one who is providing them, they aren't shy of anything, there is a limit to the tolerance ", and what not. I used to fight against this :nothingness", fought cried, all my body mechanism was altered. Fast heart rate, gasping for breath, feeling like wanted to melt down .. This pucca narcissist then continues with his life as if nothing happened .As if all that Iam showing is an emotional break down , cause he spoke the TRUTH..
thanks many thanks for the write up..

September, 12 2011 at 3:18 pm

Very nice piece on the mindset of the verbal abuser. They always want to be right. You're never good enough in their eyes. My ex and I used to fight all the time but I could never quite put my finger on what started the fights. After going to therapy I realized he was putting me down at every turn. In front of his children, his family and his friends. Thank goodness I got out of that marriage before I became a zombie who believed everything he said about me.

September, 14 2011 at 6:13 pm

Kellie, I found your videos on youtube today. Then I found this site. I've been married for 14 years and it is definitely a verbally abusive relationship. I went to a counselor a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned the Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans. I bought it and have read most of it. It is so right on.
I had done internet research over the last couple of years and had kindof figured it out. But now I am certain. I plan to come here and check out your articles as I plan on how to go forward. Like you when you made the videos, I don't want out, but it may come to that. It's sad, we have everything a couple could ask for, cars, jobs, money, boat, empty nest, set for retirement, but instead of enjoying it, we squabble over meaningless crap as she maintains control. Yet I am the selfish one. Thanks for words of encouragement.

September, 17 2011 at 10:43 am

Great testimony by all. I took lived in a verbally abusive marriage for most of the last 10 years. We have been together for over 25 years and there were problems early on, but they didn't escalate to the level that are at now, until after our second child was born 13 years ago. Things started going downhill after that. I can't say why, because only God knows. I do know that she turned to alcohol, which resulted in unfaithfulness, multiple times. I left twice and this time it is final. My faith in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ has gotten me through all of this unscathed. I can't even imagine what I would have become or how I would have dealt with this, without His mercy. I never took most of what she said personally and realized that it was her internal pain and suffering that caused her to be the way she is. I've been at peace for the 18 months that I have been apart from her and a much better father now, than I was when we still lived in the same house. She has her latest boyfriend living with her now, but I doubt that it will last, because she just isn't happy with herself, which you have to be to really make someone else happy. I hope that she eventually gets help, because she is not really a bad person at all, she's just lost! I pray for her daily, but I'm done with this relationship once and for all.

September, 23 2011 at 5:49 pm

I need to try the advice on here a little more I guess. But, I'm in the same place you were in one of your vids. You said that now that you've read the book and know what verbal abuse is, that when the behavior comes out of the verbal abuser it makes you mad. I have a very short fuse now and am hyper sensitive to the insults etc which are many.
I also now find that this is all I think about. How do I deal with this? I went to one counseling appt and will try to go to another next week if I can get an appt.. I feel like now I'm getting depressed. It all seems so unfair.
We had a blow up tonight because she insulted me and I got uptight. I didn't say anything but I guess she noticed. She said "don't worry I'm just busting on you." I said "I don't like to be busted on." That was it. A normal person if they said something that upset their spouse would apologize and try not to do it again. But what does she do? She tosses out another insult this time about my family. Then denied that she said she was busting on me. Then she pulled our her phone and started playing games and didn't say anything else. I asked her on the way home if she was still mad and she said the classic "Oh, I'm not mad." Then I asked her if she was going to talk to me that night and she said no, another classic "I don't have anything to say to you."
I'm at my wits end. I don't know what to do. I don't necessarily want out, I just want her to be nice to me. But I don't know if that's possible.

Kellie Holly
September, 24 2011 at 6:28 am

Ray, in the comment right above yours, Rocky says, "I pray for her daily, but I’m done with this relationship once and for all."
Like Rocky, I pray that my ex finds happiness and peace (partly because he wouldn't have the desire to insult me anymore, to be honest). But I couldn't live with him anymore.
It is okay to love someone you cannot live with. It is okay to leave someone you love even if you are still emotionally connected to them. It is okay to take space for yourself in this world, independent of a partner.
One things abuse victims do is forget our boundaries. We forget that we are masters of our own space and have a choice as to what we allow to affect us. We forget we have power.
Instead of honoring our boundary, such as "If you call me stupid one more time I will leave this relationship!", we change it to "Okay, you called me stupid again, but I can see you're drunk so..If you call me stupid one more time when you're sober, I will leave this relationship!"
By the way, that's probably an unenforcable boundary for most people unless they are truly ready and prepared to leave the relationship.
See for help with setting boundaries.

November, 25 2012 at 7:58 pm

Kellie i'm so glad to have found your blogs,I'M NOT CRAZY thanks for that,my counsellor gave me the best advice although it sounds all kinds of mental & doesn't apply if in physical danger,he said leave during the honey moon cycle because you are most likely going to return if you leave during an abusive cycle thinking that 1 your leaving scared the abuse out of them,& 2 the honeymoon period will be fast forwarded & more intense,however during a calm period ask yourself if this is your relationship at it's best & youré walking on egg shells,is the benefit of these periods worth the pain of the abusive cycles(i'm fortunate my ex could only be civil to me for about a month to 6 weeks)the abuse cycle starts subtly we've run out of dishwashing liquid because i use too much that would be in the morning by that night i'd be every kind of bitch,bastard arsehole,slut,lesbian,whatever,i started to emotionally detach & would observe him as i would an alien,i've chosen to leave after a 2 month period of silent treatment & i'm so proud that i didn't try to break his silence even once as my counsellor said i could only break his silence by permitting his abuse,the silent treatment started because he starte yelling at me & i said i'm leaving & i'll stay gone if you can't speak in a civil manner if we didn't have our daughter i'd have stayed gone,his last words to me were if you won't listen to me & let me fix you i won't talk to you at all.

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