Are You being Bullied by a Bully/Verbal Abuser? (here’s how to tell)


1. Withholding

2. Countering

3. Discounting

4. Verbal abuse disguised as jokes

5. Blocking and Diverting

6. Accusing and Blaming

7. Judging and Criticizing

8. Trivializing

9. Undermining

10. Threatening

11. Name Calling

12. Forgetting

13. Denial

14. Abusive anger

Other kinds of abuse:

15. Sexual abuse

16. Physical abuse

17. Emotional & Mental abuse (usually in the verbal abuse categories)


If there is a relationship, then there must be more than the exchange of information.

A relationship inquires intimacy.

Intimacy requires empathy. To hear and understand another’s feelings and experience is empathetic comprehension. The intimacy of a relationship cannot be achieved if one party is unwilling to share themselves and is unable to support their friend/family in an empathetic way.

. . . If both parties can say, for example, “Is this what you mean?” or “Is this how you feel ” or, “I think”. .Or “I feel . . .”

One person cannot create intimacy in a relationship.

The abuser who refuses to listen to their friend/family, their experience, and refuses to share themselves with others is violating the primary agreement of a relationship. They are withholding.

Withholding speaks as loud as words and is a category of Verbal Abuse. Simply put, withholding is a choice to keep all one’s thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams to oneself and to remain silent and aloof toward one’s friends/family to reveal as little as possible, and to maintain an attitude of cool indifference. A confirmed verbal abuser may go for months or years without attempting to engage his family and without empathetically responding to them.

Withholding can go on for years because their friend/family, after trying to engage the person, may assume that they are, after all a very quiet person, or totally self-contained or, maybe, extremely shy or has some hang-up, or is, maybe slightly autistic. They can conjecture any one of these reasons for the verbal abuser’s behavior more readily than they can conceive of his reality.

Although the friend/family may wish for more companionship and conversation, they may decide that they cannot expect more than it is within the person to give.

“I told him that I’d heard him mention this, and I thought it was wonderful that he was expressing his thoughts that way, and that I’d love to have him share that kind of thing with me. I thought now, at last, he’ll understand.  . . .He’d always been so silent, except for jokes and occasional comments, that I had come to think he was sort of autistic.”

If there is to be a real relationship. Two other kinds of communication are also important. These are communication which engage another and communications which respond to another.

Following are three lists which illustrate these kinds of communication:

Communication of functional Information

Do you need some help with that?

The car is almost out of gas.

Where’s my hammer?

Communication Which Engages Another:

Guess what happened on the way to . . .

What would you like to be doing a year from now?

How did you like . . . ?

Communication, Which Responds to Another:

Oh, I see what you mean.

Oh! I’ve always looked at it this way.

Yes, I understand.

I’ll think it over and let you know.

Pg. 89


How dare they have a different view from his? If they see things differently, he may feel he is losing control and dominance of them. Consequently, he may choose to argue against their thoughts, their perceptions, or their experience of life itself.

As a As a category of verbal abuse, countering is one of the most destructive to a relationship because it prevents all possibility of discussion, it consistently denies the victim’s reality and it prevents the friend/family from knowing what this person thinks about anything. An abuser who constantly counters seems only to think the opposite of their friend/family. Therefore they cannot know that person. A withholder-counterer is almost unknowable.

When a verbal abuser counters their friend/family, he does not preface his response with any phrase like, “It seems to me . . .” or “I think . . . “ or “I feel . . .” He simply says that what their friend/family says isn’t so. A confirmed verbal abuser who chooses countering as a means of domination and Power Over counters their friend/family’s thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.

“I feel like I can’t anything without being put down. I don’t think there’s anything I can say that he won’t counter.”

This friend/family tried to explain to this person that they simply had a different experience from him. He told her that both their experiences and their feelings were wrong. They said that he was so angry they thought they must be wrong.

Friend/Family: It seems to me that we’re spending too much on arms and not enough on education.

Abuser: That’s not so and you can’t get any statistics to prove it.

Countering truly blocks all communication and all possibility of intimacy.

Pg. 91


Discounting denies the reality and experience of the friend/family and is extremely destructive. If the friend/family does not recognize it for what it is, they may spend years trying to figure out what is wrong with themselves  or what is wrong with their ability to communicate. Discounting denies and distorts the friend/family’s actual perception of the abuse and is, therefore, one of the most insidious forms of verbal abuse.

. . .Is discounted to the extent that it is deemed valueless, worth nearly nothing. In reality the verbal abuser discounts their  friend/family’s’s experience and feelings as if they were worth nothing. If the friend/family says, for example, “I felt hurt when I heard you say.” or “I don’t think that’s funny, it feels like a put down” or I feel bad when you yell at me like that,” the abuser may discount the friend/family’s feelings, saying something that gives them the message: “Your feelings and experience are wrong they are nothing.”


“You’re too sensitive.”

“You can’t take a joke. “

“Your imagination is working overtime.”

“You read things into my words.”

They may spend hours trying to figure out how it is that they comes across the way he says they do, not realizing that his discounting statements are said to avoid having to take responsibility for his behavior.

Pg. 93


Abuse disguised, as a joke is a category of verbal abuse which all of the women I interviewed experienced. It takes a quick mind to come up with ways of disparaging the friend/family either crassly or with wit and style. This kind of abuse is not done in jest. It cuts to the quick, touches the most sensitive areas, and leaves the abuser with a look of triumph. This abuse never seems funny because it isn’t funny

Since the abuser responds with anger, the friend/family may believe they did “take it wrong” and that is what he’s angry about, or (as some friend’s of abusers do) they may wonder if there is something wrong with their sense of humor. The brainwashing effects of verbal abuse cannot be overemphasized.

An abuser may also startle or frighten his friend/family after which he will laugh as if it were a joke.



Blocking and diverting is a category of verbal abuse, which specifically controls interpersonal communication. The verbal abuser refuses to communicate, establishes what can be discussed or withholds information.

He can prevent all possibility of resolving conflicts by blocking and diverting. Blocking may be by direct demand or by switching the topic.  Blocking may also be accusatory; however it’s primary purpose is to prevent discussion, end communication, or withhold information.

Examples of blocking are:

You’re talking out of turn

You know what I meant.

Often the friend/family does not notice that the original topic is no longer the topic. They have been diverted.

Pg. 95-96


A verbal abuser will accuses their friend/family of some wrongdoing or some breach of the basic agreement of the relationship, blaming his friend/family for his anger, irritation, or insecurity.

The verbal abuser accuses his friend/family of attacking him. In this way he avoids all intimacy and all possibility of exploring his friend/family’s feelings.

The friend/family’s communication is not accepted, and they are accused of being unfaithful and thus blamed for the abuser’s insecurity. The implication is meant to goad them into submission. 


The verbal abuser may judge their friend/family and then express his judgment in a critical way. If they object, he may tell them that he is just pointing something out to be helpful, but in reality he may be expressing his lack of acceptance of them.

Statements which begin With “The trouble with you is . . .” are judgmental, critics, and abusive.

Statements which begin With  “Your Problem is.. . . .” judgmental, critical, and abusive.

Critical statements made about you to others are abusive.

She never stops nagging.

Critical “stories” about your mistakes or actual lies about you, which embarrass you in front of others, are abusive;

. . . The partner feels frustrated finds herself saying, “That’s not what I meant.” This type of abuser is likely to frequently tell his partner she always has to be right. Criticism disguised as help or advise is abusive.

Pg. 99-100


Trivializing says, in so many words, that what you have done or expressed is insignificant. When trivializing is done in a frank and sincere voice, it can be difficult to detect. If the friend/family is very trusting, they may listen with an open mind to the abuser’s comments and end up feeling perplexed that he doesn’t understand them or their work or interests. Trivializing can be very subtle, so that the friend/family is left feeling depressed and frustrated . . .

This verbal abuse set up the friend/family for extra hurt. The friend/family were very open and vulnerable to the trivialization of it.  First the abuser said he was impressed, then he commented on the smallest thing about it, refusing to acknowledge the effort or the results.

Trivializing is confusing to the friend/family because, if they don’t recognize it for what it is, they believe they somehow hadn’t been able to explain to that person just how important certain things are to them. The abuser may feel one up when he puts his friend/family down but the friend is kept on an emotional roller coaster.

Pg. 100-101


Undermining not only withholds emotional support, but also erodes confidence and determination. The abuser who undermines his friend/family has usually verbally abused them in many other ways. Consequently their self-esteem and confidence are already low, making them much more vulnerable to the abuse.


“The article described everything I was interested in for the workshop as faddish, and it described the people who were interested in diet and health as fanatics. I felt very strange. I couldn’t get any motivation up or get going on it.”

(Researching to always prove one wrong)

This kind of sabotage undermines the friend/family’s determination and sense of well-being. Another form of sabotage is disruption and interruption. For example, the abuser may sabotage his friend/family’s conversations with others by causing some disturbance such as breaking into uproarious laughter or walking into the room and pounding on the piano, as did one abuser. He may also simply interrupt them finishing their story, opposing them, or negating them.

Pg. 102


Threatening manipulates the friend/family by bringing up their greatest fears.

Verbally abusive threats usually involve the threat of loss or pain.

Some examples:

“Do what I want or I’II leave.”

“ Do what I want or I’II take a Mistress.”

“ Do what l want or I’II get a divorce.”

“ Do what I want or I’II really be angry.”

“Do what I want or I’ll hit you.”

OR “If you . . . , I’ll . . . .


Name-calling is one of the most overt categories of verbal abuse. All name-calling is verbally abusive. Forms of endearment such as “sweetheart” are, of course, accepted, unless said with real sarcasm.


Forgetting involves both denial and covert manipulation. The declaration by the abuser that what occurred didn’t occur is abusive. Everyone forgets what happened now and then. However, consistently forgetting interactions, which gave great impact on another person, is verbally abusive denial.

Often, after the friend/family collects themselves after being yelled at they may try to talk to that person about it. He will have conveniently ‘forgotten’ the incident, saying, for example, “I don’t know what you’re talking about I’m not going to listen to this.”

Some abusers seem to consistently forget the promises, which are most important to their friend/family. Often the friend/family is truly counting on a very important agreement made by that person. He will have “forgotten” the agreement.


Ordering denies equality and autonomy of the friend/family. When the abuser gives orders instead of asking respectively for what he wants, he is treating his friend/family as if they were the glove on his hand, automatically available to fulfill his wishes. Following are some examples of ordering:

Get rid of this.

Get in here and clean this up.

You’re not going out now.

Get this off of here.

You’re not wearing that.

We won’t discuss it,

Shut that off.

We’re doing this now.



Although all verbal abuse has serious consequences, denial is one of the most insidious categories because it denies the reality of the friend/family. A confirmed verbal abuser may use every form of verbal abuse on a regular basis. This very same abuser might very well read this section on the categories of verbal abuse and say that he has never been abusive, that he loves his friend/family, and that he would never do anything to hurt them. This is denial:

I never said that.

You’re making that all up.

We never had that conversation.

You’re getting upset about nothing.

I don’t know where you got that.

You’ve got to be crazy.

These are all examples of denial.

15. ABUSIVE ANGER  ~ The Anger Addict – pgs. 105-110

Is essential that the friend/family fully realize that they are in no way responsible for being yelled at, snapped at, raged at, or even glared at – no matter how demanding, accused or blaming the abuser is. This means that, since they are not responsible in any way for the abuse, they need in no way defend themselves  by explaining themselves. They may protect themselves, however, as Chapter 11 will describe.

The friend/family of verbal abusers know that explaining what they really said, meant, or did has never brought an apology such as “Oh, I’m so sorry to have snapped, shouted, or yelled at you. Will you forgive me?” The friend/family of verbal abusers know this from experience. But they hope that they will not have to give up the hope that this time he will understand. This hope may be the hardest to give up.

In Chapter 2, I gave an example of what happens when the friend/family defends or explains themselves.  What happens is that they step back into & toward the abuser’s reality. He then thinks they are in his reality where battles are the norm, and he really starts to battle them. Apologizing is the last thing on his mind.

It is also important for the friend/family to fully realize that there is no “way they can be” to prevent the abuser from venting his anger on them. Speaking more gently, listening more attentively, being more supportive, more interesting, more learned, more fun, thinner, cuter, or classier – being more anything will not work.

The abuser’s power arises out of his general since of powerlessness. He expresses his anger either covertly through subtle manipulation or overtly in unexpected outbursts directed at his friends & family. These outbursts accuse and blame the friend/family. By making them his scapegoat, he denies the real cause of his behavior and convinces himself and usually his friend/family, how that they have somehow said or done something to justify the abuse.

When the abuser vents his anger on his friend/family, he releases the underlying tension he feels from his sense of Personal Powerlessness. As a result the abuser feels good and the friend/family feels bad.

Attempts by the friend/family to find out what is wrong simply do not work. The abuser will deny his anger outright or claim that his friend/family is to blame for his behavior. If the abuser were to admit to his friend/family were not the cause of his anger, he would have to face himself and his own feelings.  In most cases abusers are not willing to do this.

Most verbal abusers are filled with inner tension, which they periodically and unpredictably release with angry outbursts directed at their friends/family. The tension then builds again until the abuser releases it again with another outburst. This build up of tension and its release become a cyclical pattern of behavior. As soon as the tension is released it begins to build again.  I call this the cycle of anger addiction and abuser who follows this pattern an anger addict.

The cycle however is not regular. It is not predictable. The abuser doesn’t vent his anger at his friend/family every morning, or every evening, or every Saturday night. The intensity of the outbursts varies. Factors affecting the cycle include: opportunity, changes at work or at home, the thoughts of the abuser, his current sense of power, his fears, his feelings of dependency, and his feelings of inadequacy. If he drinks, alcohol may play a part.

The cycle carries a double reward for the abuser. The rewards are like a fix for an addict. The first reward is that the abuser feels a sense of relief, a kind of euphoric high after exploding at his friend/family because he has released the tension built up since the last outburst. The second reward is that he has reasserted his dominance and Power over his friend/family. There is nothing they can do or and no way they can prevent the next attack.

. . . Friends/family may believe they are somehow to blame. Eventually, without realizing it, they may end up living in a prepared “on- guard” state. Coping may become a way of life without the friend/family realizing it. Not only is the friend/family affected by the abuse but also, at some level, all members of the family are affected.

. . . affect them deeply. Being verbally shouted at, raged at, or snapped at leaves the friend/family in pain and confusion. These attacks throw them off balance. They disrupt their equilibrium and batter their spirit. Although they have nothing to do with the friend/family in their origin, they hurt deeply, because hostility against another human being, whether it is physical or emotional, is painful.

Some friend/family have tried to ignore that person’s angry bursts, thinking, “I am strong. He doesn’t really mean it. I won’t let him get me down.

What happens as a result of this approach? The friend/family uses their strength against themselves. They struggle to stay balanced and serene while using their strength to endure and to try to understand the abuse. They may suffer from traumatic shocks. And, certainly they become more confused. As Ann put it; “He loves me. He just doesn’t like me.”

Also if the friend/family calmly endures the abuser’s behavior, they will feel thwarted. He expects a reaction. He needs his fix of both the release of tension and the sense of Power Over his friend/family. If he hasn’t gotten his friend/family down, if they show no signs of losing their enthusiasm, he will increase the abuse. This is probably not a conscious decision. He’s just angrier, more tense, and more dependent on his fix of Power Over. This is one of the reasons that verbal abuse increases over time. As the friend/family adapts – tries to ignore the behavior, possibly hoping it will stop or hoping they won’t advertently provoke him or that they’ll figure out what they’re “doing wrong” or why they’re “feeling wrong”, the abuser increases the intensity and/or the frequency of the abuse.

As the friend/family uses their strength to ignore the outbursts or to make sense of the relationship, or to hope that it will get better, the abuser uses his strength to increase the abuse. If the friend/family tells that person how upsetting his outbursts are to them, they will usually face an intense angry denial telling them that they’re overreacting.

For as long as he can deny his responsibility for his anger and can accuse his friend/family of causing it, the abuser can continue to maintain his equilibrium and to get high at his friend/family’s expense. The friend/family of anger addicts and verbal abusers in general are consistently shocked to realize that that person feels good when they feel so hurt.

In general the anger addict’s attitude is, “How can I be doing anything wrong when I feel so right?”

Bert agreed to go to a marriage counselor with me. At the counselor’s he heard me say I felt hurt and fear when yelled at me. After we left he yelled at me again, saying I’d attacked and blindsided him. I was confused. I didn’t know what he meant or how he thought I had been attacking him.

The accusatory nature of the abuser’s angry outbursts usually leaves the friend/family wondering what they’ve said wrong. It is not uncommon for the friend/family of an anger addict to mull over events, struggling to discover what they did or said that angered him. If he directs his anger at them and blames them for it as well, if mutual friends tell them how lucky they are to have such a wonderful person, if the abuse doesn’t take place in public, if the abuser tells them he loves them, if their family of origin did not provide a good model of a loving relationship, they may have no idea that they are actually suffering from abuse. They will keep looking for rational reasons for that person’s behavior.

Abusive anger diminishes the partner’s desire for sexual intimacy. When this occurs, the abuser then accuses their mate of being uncaring and unfeeling ~ and they may think that something is wrong with themselves.

. . .  It does affect them deeply. They will feel emotional pain even if they do not recognize that their family is hostile towards them, and even if they think that they are to blame, in some as-yet-to-be-discovered way, for his anger.

Abusive anger may begin with irritable snaps and then evolve into rages. This increasing intensity and frequency usually develops very, very gradually over years, but it may develop very rapidly widen the first year or months of the relationship.

Although abusive anger is accusatory and blaming the friend/family does not provoke, nor do they consciously or unconsciously plan to provoke or “get” the abuser.

Some signs of abusive anger are a lack of warmth from that person as well as all verbal abuse, irritable outbursts, sneers, argumentativeness, temper tantrums, shouting, yelling, raging, explosiveness and sarcasm that is directed toward you and/or others.

Sarcasm is the tip of the iceberg, which conceals a mountain of anger.

Physical signs of abusive anger include all the body language associated with anger, such as clenched teeth and a raised fist. Also, of course, any physical assault and destruction of your property is a demonstration of abusive anger.

Some verbal abusers do not express their anger overtly, but abuse much more covertly. These more covert abusers are also angry and hostile. However, they don’t express their anger in the pattern of the anger addict. It seems that they may be more inclined to develop long-range plans to control and manipulate their friend/family.

Anger addicts, on the other hand, are usually quick to anger and are easily irritated. Most friends & family don’t realize that an easily irritated person is an angry person. The anger addict will reconstruct whatever he hears in such a way that it becomes for him the “reason” for venting its anger on his friend/family. The anger itself is irrational,  . . .


I am glad you have taken the time to read this VERY IMPORTANT blog.

If you have been raised in an abusive atmosphere, you may find yourself taking on some of these ways of communicating with your family and friends. Don’t delay praying about this and getting help from professionals before your life becomes a repeat of the past sins of your family.

If you find yourself in a verbally abusive relationship or have been in one for a long time and just realized it ~ seek help immediately from a professional who has been specifically trained in this area ~ NOT ALL FAMILY AND CHILD COUNSELORS ARE REALLY TRAINED, THOUGH THEY SAY THEY ARE ! Do your research on finding real help.

This is a very hard and serious relationship blog ~ people’s lives and relationships are destroyed every day by people who threaten and bully one another. Jesus told us to “Love one another.,,,”

This is not love.

Be blessed and I pray God will deliver us all and heal and restore what has been stolen and lost in our lives.

In Him,


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