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on February 21, 2013
Several weeks before leaving my abusive husband after 42 years of marriage, I read "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans. I noted many passages that clearly described the abusive tactics he was using on me.

The information, however, was just so irrefutable, so undeniably true, it was far too painful for me to fully realize and assimilate at the time.

Sixteen months after leaving him, I picked the book off the closet shelf and re-read it, this time noticing many more abusive characteristics of his and experiences I went through in the past. Numerous passages were boldly marked this time, and many more notes were made. Virtually every page held so many similarities to what I had been experiencing in this abusive relationship.

After decades of being unaware of this type of abuse, I finally arrived at the realization that he was indeed extremely verbally abusive during our marriage. This was a tremendous revelation to me, as I had unconsciously hidden and "forgotten" even the physical assault that occurred early in the marriage. Before we married, however, he was attentive and I thought he loved me as I loved him.

I thought that verbal abuse was mainly name calling and hurling outright insults. My to be ex husband did not often call me names and obvious insults were rather rare, although he did call me stupid and crazy a few times. Yes, he did beat me severely early in our marriage, but he was mainly a covert abuser. His methods were insidious and had me feel that I was to blame for just about everything that went wrong.

He would often criticize men and women on TV, their physical faults, mouth too large, crooked nose, too fat, too thin, etc. He was particularly critical of confident women broadcasters, and would be very insulting of them. I finally stood up to him and let him know that he was being very cruel. In hindsight I realize I felt more protective of other people than myself.

One of the most painful and damaging aspects of his abusive ways was his obvious delight in seeing my hurt responses to his insidiously cruel remarks... the smirk, the laugh, the hate-filled look. As time went on, I learned to hide my feelings and to refrain from reasoning or arguing with him. I could never "win" anyway. It hurts to realize that the one who promised to love and cherish you didn't really care for you.

He seemed to get a lot of pleasure in seeing me suffer physically as well. It was a freezing cold day and I went out to the garage to bring in an item from the car. I somehow locked myself out of the house. I was dressed only in my indoor clothing, and frantically knocked on the doors and windows for him to let me inside. I was becoming very cold, and being in my 60's, was concerned that I would quickly become hypothermic. He did not answer my cries. I went in side the car, but it wasn't any warmer, as I didn't have the keys to start it. I was too embarrassed to ask for help from a neighbour. Finally after about 30 minutes or so and repeated knocks and cries he answered the door. He said he didn't hear me earlier. He appeared very unconcerned about me and the whole incident. I just let it go as I knew better than to argue with him...he would just yell irrational insults at me. I just couldn't handle his insults any longer.

Shortly afterwards, when our son and his wife and children were visiting, he recounted his story, about my locking myself out of the house. He made me sound stupid. I was hurt, and quietly remarked that I became very cold and wondered when he would answer the door.

Before we married, I happily looked forward to being his wife. I was a loving and attentive wife to him, and was faithful to him throughout our marriage, working very hard in raising our children, cooking good nutritious meals and maintaining the home and businesses we owned. He basically ignored our children, even though I tried to speak with him, telling him that they would be harmed by his emotional distance. He did not care to listen and brushed me off.

Almost all of my efforts seemed to be wasted on him. This happens very often in abusive relationships...the abuser is never really satisfied. He would criticize and downgrade me often, and I began to feel worthless. I had no self-esteem as a result.

Like so many abusers, he was very polite and good-mannered to others. Family, business associates, friends at church... they were completely oblivious to his abusive ways. He had developed a charming persona that he could control at will, that he could switch on and off like a light bulb, and he especially liked to play up this persona in church. He had a dark and angry side that he did not display to others.

For brief periods over that long marriage I went to several counsellors for "depression" but I didn't mention my husband's abuse, so the counsellors were not able to help me. This shows how blinded I was to his abuse. I descended ever more deeply into the abyss of despair and self-blame. Several years ago, I finally mentioned his physical abuse to a new counsellor. At the time I had not yet acknowledged his verbal and emotional abuse. The counsellor suggested I close my eyes and pretend I was on a beach somewhere with my abusive husband. I didn't retain that counsellor for long, either.

The author mentions the description of the Covert Abuser as "also being angry and hostile. However, they don't express anger in the pattern of the anger addict... they may be more inclined to develop long-range plans to control and manipulate their partners." How terribly true this was in my case.

The author also describes Denial as being "one of the most insidious categories of verbal abuse because it denies the reality of the partner." Again, completely true in my experience and I could not agree more.

In the months leading to the separation, he would become angry and ask why I married him. I would reply because I loved him very much. He would sneer and make a denigrating sound. This, I felt, was his covert way of turning around the usual "Why did I marry you" remark. I didn't ask him the same question. I was afraid of his response.

Another illustration of his type of abuse: Several years ago, he and I were having lunch at a restaurant. There was no argument involved, either beforehand or at the time (as if that should matter). I started choking on food stuck in my throat. He was sitting next to me, and made absolutely no effort to help me. He simply sat there while I was desperately trying to cough up the food, feeling I would die. Finally I managed to do so with no help from him.

After arriving home, I calmly asked him why he didn't help me. He muttered something like "I dunno," and appeared completely unconcerned about this incident. I felt he hated me so much that he wished I would die.

In the months before leaving, I had tried to talk with him, asking him to offer a heartfelt apology and seek help. He would become very angry and would refuse, blaming me instead.

"The Verbally Abusive Relationship" helped me to become aware of verbal abuse and the damage that it causes in terms of destroying self-esteem, spiritual, emotional and physical health. The perpetrator of abuse ravages the soul, crushes the spirit and can ultimately murder the partner that is held in the abuser's grip. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is going through abuse and as a warning to others.

This book will provide valuable and enlightening information to anyone who wants to become more informed about the tactics of the abuser.
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on April 17, 2012
I am a man who didn't find the information in this book biased towards woman in the slightest. By the end of the first chapter I was swapping the gender of the pronouns without conscious thought. This book is about recognizing and responding to abuse. Regardless of gender, people in abusive relationships have been systematically trained not to trust their own inner voice. Criticizing this book seems to risk further befuddled those that need it most. I think the lack of sensitivity to this possibility on behalf of the critical reviewers suggests that either they don't fully understand the dynamics of abuse, or else they DO understand the dynamics and want the potential purchasers of this book to keep doubting their inner voices.

To address the issue of gender it might be useful to add a chapter of research on how verbally abusive women differ from their male counterparts, as well as how male victims differ from female victims. As a man trapped in an abusive relationship for 20 years I can make an educated guess that there are some significant differences. For instance since men are often not as in touch with their own emotions as women are, and because the stereotypical male prototype is John Wayne, I would guess that many men silently suffer abuse right to their grave. It would be a worthwhile chapter if it helps just one male victim to begin trusting his inner voice.
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on August 3, 2011
If you are even looking at this review, that means you or someone you know has made you think about verbal abuse enough to come and check out this book. If you have had to think about it even that much, then THIS BOOK WILL BE OF UNBELIEVABLE VALUE TO YOU!!!!

Get it today. Read it the minute it arrives on your porch.

(If there is concern that the book did not get 5 starts, be sure to look at the one star revies--almost all by the same reviewer.)

If you think you just have a grumpy spouse, or if you know they guy is way out of line: GET THIS BOOK. If you feel alone even when he is around, or if you can't get him off your back: GET THIS BOOK.

Verbal and emotional abuse can be so subtle, so subtle that you don't even realize it is abuse. The effects confuse you about your own experiences, and make you doubt your own judgement, to the point where you know you are unhappy, but you feel like it is your own fault. So you may not think this book is for you.

Do yourself a favor...if there is even a whisper of curiosity in you about the subject, you or someone you care about will benefit from your access to this knowledge.

This book defines very specifically and clearly what constitutes abuse, emotional evidence that you are being abused, ways to respond to make the abuse stop, and a clear picture of the mentality of the abuser. Trust me, they are not seeing it the way you are. We all make the mistake of thinking that our spouse's understanding of love is the same as our own, which is why we just don't understand WHY they do what they do to us.

Be prepared to see everything in a whole new light. (For some of us, the first light we have seen in a long, long time.)

This book gives you hope. It unlocks the cage you subconsciously submitted to a long time ago, and gives you a chance at freedom you didn't even realize you were missing.

It has been said before. Waaaaay too often. But in this case, it is so very, very, VERY true.


For me personally, this book allowed me to stand up straight, walk tall, and have dignity again. It gave me insight into what led to my husband's ability to treat me this way. That insight opened the door to a whole new understanding of him as a person--the parts of him that are broken and why. In our particular case, after reading Ms. Evan's other books, I had the tools to wake him up to what he was doing--to see his behavior for what it was. For the first time EVER, he could see that something in him is missing (from past abuse), something valuable that can be reclaimed, and he could not deny its reality. What he does with that reality is up to him. But I know that I have done what I can, and now that HE sees, I know that his further actions are my answer to whether or not he is willing and able to change.

Not only do I have my own self back, but no matter how it works out for our marriage, he has been given the chance to repair that empty part of him and to find real happiness. This book has given both of us a chance to find peace, whether or not we end up together in the end.
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on August 21, 2014
This book would have merited 5 stars except for one major issue. The author does an OUTSTANDING job picking apart the confusing, tangled web that chronic verbal abuse creates. Being the partner of an abusive spouse, and having no prior experience to abuse, I had absolutely no idea that my plummeting self esteem, my feelings of total overwhelming confusion, were the result of verbal abuse. I, like most people, I imagine, assumed that "verbal abuse" was someone calling you a terrible name.

I did not know about gaslighting.

Had I known, and recognized the verbal abuse for what it was, I would have also understood that abuse tends to escalate. I might have been long gone before my spouse ever got the chance to put his hands on me. So to that end, I wish I would have read this book many months ago.

My 3 star rating stems from the last quarter of the book, in which the author discusses how one ought to respond to the verbal abuse once she's recognized it: "Stop it! Don't talk to me like that! Look at me! Nonsense! Why did you say?" This is dangerous. Dangerous and ill advised. The author lost me completely with that. Apparently, she recommends that approach as kind of a way to test the severity of the problem: answering back in this way might surprise the abusive partner into "snapping out of it". Another suggestion the author makes is to tape record the abusive partner, the idea being that if he/she objects, he/she knows that what they are doing is wrong. I don't want to assume that all verbal abusers are going to some point escalate into physical abusers. But the strong possibility exists. There is an undeniable liklihood that to an angry and controlling partner, any or all of the above responses will be viewed as complete outrageous defiance. And they will feel perfectly entitled to their reaction to this defiant new you, which will involve punishment.

Patricia Evans, thank you. But readers, do yourself a favor. When the realization of what your partner is doing to you dawns, don't risk your personal safety by confronting them. Get your exit strategy in order. Don't wait.
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on October 31, 2010
I have read this book many times and given it to friends. In my professional life I was in control, competent and confident. At home, I was passive, disorganized, afraid, and insecure. I talked to no one about my problems because I was embarrassed about how badly I was treated by my husband and I thought I was to blame and that all I needed to do was try harder and not be so sensitive. This book transformed my life. It validated my feelings, convinced me that I was not crazy and helped me to understand myself and my husband. Understanding verbal abuse gave me the power to quit blaming myself, to quit making excuses for my husband and to address it in my life and in my marriage. It also gave me the knowledge and the tools to help my children understand it and to lessen their tolerance for it. It helped my husband and I understand our pain and how we were hurting each other. It has taken me years to recover from the damage of emotional and verbal abuse and today I look back and say, "who was that person?" This book was the start of the healing for me, my husband and my children. Verbal abuse is a matter of degree but none of it is acceptable and all of it is harmful.
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on August 23, 2013
I always thought "verbal abuse" was someone just calling another person names, like saying things like "You're stupid," "You're ugly, who else would want you?" and "You're crazy."

These things comprise maybe about 1% of what verbal abuse really is.

Verbal (or really, emotional) abuse is a technique controlling individuals use to make their targets feel insecure, anxious, and desperate to please. It also wears away the victim's self-esteem, so they're less likely to leave.

If you're in a relationship where your partner TELLS you they "love you," and yet you don't FEEL loved, and you always feel like you're walking on eggshells around them, this book is for you.
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on May 17, 2013
Having lived in an emotionally/verbally abusive situation for (too many) years now, I found myself highlighting something (many things) on every page. This is my life spelled out in straight-forward terms. I found it comforting and encouraging to see in print what I experience so often in my life; not because it is right, or that I enjoy it, but I felt that if someone understands and puts it in words the way Patricia Evans does, there is hope and an end in sight. I found the sections on how to respond especially helpful. That said, you must know which of these responses to apply in your particular situation. I began putting the suggestions into practice immediately. As she says, there is definitely push back and the abuser will not be happy. But the upside to this is that I feel calm and in control when I respond in a decisive, firm manner. There is something to be said for not losing your temper and responding "in kind." I have learned so much on my first pass through the book. I will be reading it again. If you even suspect you might be in an abusive relationship, you need this book. I have changed the way I respond to my situation, and it makes ME feel better and more hopeful regardless of the anger the abuser feels when he loses control over me.

I understand that the book is written about women as the partner/recipient of the abuse and men as the abuser, but I believe that men can benefit from this book if they are on the receiving end of abuse from a female partner. It truly applies to anyone who is in this situation. People who have not been on the receiving end of abuse, even very subtle abuse, have no clue about what it is like. If you have a close friend in this type of relationship, it would also benefit you to read this so that you can understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship and be better able to support your friend.

I certainly wish I had read this book many years ago so I would have seen what was happening in my relationship. I knew early on that something was wrong, but like so many other recipients, I was repeatedly told it was my fault that we had problems and I came to believe that, as so many do. This book would have cleared that up for me and probably made an early exit from the relationship possible. Now I am struggling to heal emotionally and preparing for a future without this person. I am feeling much stronger after reading through this book. Definitely recommend it!
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on May 6, 2013
This book saved my sanity--or what little I had left after 9 years in this relationship. While I knew that there were instances of verbal abuse, I did not realize all of the many other things that constitute abuse. Interestingly, he saw the book in my reading material (Checking on my reading material? Another attempt at control?) and has been much less abusive since. That tells me he knows exactly what he's doing and that he has total control over it. My life has become much less crisis-laden. I have also purchased "The Verbally Abusive Man.." but have not yet read it. It seems to be enough to just keep these books in the bookcase readily accessible. I believe the most benefit to me was the fact that I realized that mine was not a unique situation. We have had 80 percent of the conversations quoted in the book almost verbatim. It really helped me to not take it all personally. I am not in a position to leave at this time and for the first time in several years feel like I can actually make it now. Thank you Patricia Evans.
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on July 11, 2011
12 years ago this book finally brought my marriage into crystal clear focus and instantly helped me make the decision, finally, to leave my psychologically and verbally abusive husband. This book saved my soul, my psyche, my life. Eight years with that man had me wondering which method of killing myself would be painless and effective. I had gone from being a leader in a variety of settings, friendly and outgoing, to being quiet and sad, with people describing me as shy. I was just so convinced by my viciously critical (ex)husband that no one wanted to hear my stupid comments. He also used sarcasm and humor ("Why are you so touchy? I'm just joking! You have no sense of're such a martyr...your Joan of Arc act is getting boring.")

Anyway, could write 1,000 pages.... I looked up this book today because I know someone who needs to read it and I want to email the exact title and author to her. And I just want to say, I have had the most wonderful 12 years of my life since this book helped me recognize how my ex-husband was destroying me, and that I wasn't imagining things, and it wasn't my fault, and it didn't matter how clearly and calmly I communicated about our relationship--he would always choose not to understand, (as soon as I left him he immediately understood how to speak to me in a respectful tone--after years of using a sneering, contemptuous tone to deny that he was using a sneering, contemptuous tone of voice), and gather just barely enough resolve to leave. (A wonderful friend let me stay in her home and she fielded all his phone calls, so he couldn't mess with my mind while I was vulnerable.)

Reading this book and letting it confirm my almost completely repressed instincts and help me step out of the swirling vortex of self-doubt and confusion, was the best thing I ever did for myself. I hope it will give you a new and wonderful life too.
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on October 16, 2011
I learned so much by reading this book. This book was recommended to me by my therapist. In my relationship I experience a lot of witholding. I learned some about that and alot about other forms of abuse I was also receiving. I discovered how to label what I was experiencing along with ideas on how to start being more effective at sticking up for myself. From what I have experienced over the years this book hits it all on the nail. In my relationship I learned to keep my mouth shut or was always leery of saying the wrong thing to set off my spouse for the fear of the "temper tantrums" and the silent treatment that followed and would go on for days until we all just let it go like nothing ever happened. Living a life wher nothing is ever resolved and acting like nothing is wrong or happened. Emotionally dead! I could go on an on. I am going to re read this book and buy more for those I care about. BUY THIS BOOK!!!!!
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