All the Right Words


No one else will love you.

You have too much baggage.

F**** off.

If you leave me, I’ll kill myself.

If I can’t have you, no one will.

You just wanted me for a sperm/egg donor.

I’m not sure I love you.

I’m only with you until someone better comes along.

Why can’t you be like that person?

You’re too fat.

That outfit makes you look like a whore.

No one would believe you if you said anything anyway.

Who do you think you are?

You’re too beautiful to be with me.

You’re too wonderful for me.

Who are you really going out to see?

These are things that have been said by the same person. Out of one side of their mouth, they degrade you, they verbally beat you down, criticize and accuse you; while out of the other side of their mouth they build you up and claim they can’t live without you. An abuser is an expert at the backhanded compliment and the direct insult. They can say all the right things while making you wonder what the reality is, making you wonder if you are as horrible as they make you out to be, making you wonder why they bother staying with you, leaving you to feel as if you are lucky they stick around.

If the abuser can keep you confused, feeling twisted, worried, and focused on what is wrong with you instead of what is wrong with them, they can keep you. The minute you have the opportunity to stop and think about things, to recognize how badly you are being treated, they risk you leaving. They risk you deciding you are worth more than they allow you to think.


A lot of people have told me “It’s just words, get over it” or “Words can’t hurt you”. It’s not just words. Words have the power to destroy. We all know how hard it is when someone insults us, when they speak badly of us. Everyone experiences a time or person who is unkind. Occasional verbal cruelty from our loved ones is one thing, verbal cruelty at work or from strangers is another thing and both can be forgiven, forgotten and let go of fairly easily. We can change jobs, avoid those who are unkind to us, or allow for bad days from our loved ones, they happen, we all know it. Constant, regular verbal cruelty from the people who are supposed to love us (parents, spouse, etc.), who have made a commitment to us, that’s hard to recover from, to escape from.


Abuse is a pattern of behaviors that can otherwise be occasional common-place occurrences in every relationship. One of the hardest things about recovery from verbal abuse is that you hear the words so often, you are exposed to the message so frequently, that they repeat in your head. You can’t escape your own thoughts.

To recover from verbal abuse, one needs to be purposeful in retraining your thought processes. You have to deliberately change the message you speak to yourself. That can be hard to do, but not impossible. It takes time. Be patient, be gracious to yourself, give yourself time. Surround yourself with people who will speak positive messages into your heart. Be careful what you watch, what you post on social media. Watch for the good in your own life. Recognize your blessings.



2 thoughts on “All the Right Words

  1. You mention that physical violence doesn’t have to be present for there to be abuse. I’d take it a step further.

    There doesn’t have to be obvious verbal cruelty for there to be severe emotional abuse. My wife/abuser is extremely covert. She has plenty of supporters in church who see her has an angel. She demands peace at all costs… especially if it costs me. She did a bait and switch, and has starved me for any kind of meaningful emotional connection. She will do anything to maintain that image of being a sweet, patient martyr. She enlists /others/ to punish me verbally while she sits and watches, knowing that she used half-truths to manipulate them into this.

    Emotional starvation eventually leads to emotional emaciation. One thing is for sure, though — it will always be blamed on the victim.


    • I am so sorry that is happening. You are absolutely right, far too often abuse is subtle and insidious, hard to identify and place a finger on. This post is about verbal abuse, but I have (and will again more specifically) discussed emotional abuse another time. I pray you find refuge and healing.

      Liked by 2 people

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