Name-calling: Any negative form of name-calling is unacceptable. If you feel that it is a put down, then it most likely is. There are names that are obvious and, without question abusive. Then there are the covert, veiled attempts to put a spouse down that are harder to identify. Verbal abusers love to use constructive criticism to beat a spouse down. If your spouse is constantly criticizing you, “for your own good,” be careful. This is the most underhanded form of verbal abuse.
Shaming with words or jokes: Critical, sarcastic, mocking words meant to put you down either alone or in front of other people. Sometimes verbal abuse is disguised as jokes. Although his comments may masquerade as humor, they cut the partner to the quick. The verbal jabs may be delivered crassly or with great skill, but they all have the same effect of diminishing the partner and throwing her off balance. Verbal jabs may be overt (through angry outbursts and name- calling) or covert (involving very subtle comments, even something that approaches brainwashing). Overt verbal abuse is usually blaming and accusatory, and consequently confusing to the partner. Covert verbal abuse, which is hidden aggression, is even more confusing to the partner. Its aim is to control her without her knowing.
Fits of rage: Hostile tone, volume or intensity of deliver may appear as shouting, yelling or screaming or alternately, talking quietly yet intensely, so as to instill fear. Typically this form of verbal abuse causes the victim to acquiesce for fear of self-harm, particularly scaring the person that matters might escalate to include physical abuse. The victim consciously treads very carefully because they are aware that they are living with someone who goes verbally ballistic for very little cause.
Intimidation and Threats: Threats are meant to scare or intimidate a person into submission. Threats can be of bodily harm to a person or other family, friends or pets of the person. Threats can also include divulging secrets or making outright lies about a person such to either embarrass or cause to look bad in the eyes of others. Threats can also be to property as in telling a person they will destroy something and threats can be financial, thus seeking to hold a person hostage by intimating economic hardship. Even the legal system can be used against another and thus threats include telling another person they will unjustly use the legal system to gain an unfair advantage. No threat should be taken likely, even if your spouse tells you they are only joking, especially if it causes you to change behaviors or to feel on guard in the relationship.
Blame: Accusing and blaming is another form of abuse. A verbal abuser will accuse his partner of some wrongdoing or some breach of the basic agreement of the relationship. This has the effect of diverting the conversation and putting the other partner on the defensive.
Dismissal and Trivializing: This occurs when a partner refuses to discuss issues that affect the other person and avoid discussion of any topic where they might have to take responsibility for their actions or words. Trivializing can also be a form of verbal abuse. It is an attempt to take something that is said or done and make it insignificant. When this is done in a frank and sincere manner, it can be difficult to detect. Often the partner becomes confused and believes she hasn’t effectively explained how important certain things are to her.
Manipulation: Verbal abuse can be manipulative and controlling and involves the persistent and intense use of threatening words to induce someone into do something, or act in a way, that is uncomfortable to them. Even disparaging comments may be voiced in an extremely sincere and concerned way but the goal is to control and manipulate.