How to Deal with Verbal Abuse

Even when abuse isn’t physical, it’s still abuse. Often in abusive relationships, a person feels guilty and struggles to ask for help. If you’re experiencing verbal abuse, here are some suggestions:

1. KNOW THE SIGNS – They say “love is blind,” but being aware of abusive behaviours allows you to better predict and manage them in the future. If you feel put down by someone, or they make negative comments about things/people you love, it may be time to ask a counsellor for suggestions how to improve the relationship and protect yourself.

2. REACH OUT – A close friend, a relative, a trusted doctor, will want to help you. Surround yourself with people who care about you and talk about your concerns. You’ll feel supported, and reminded you are not alone.

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3. SET BOUNDARIES AND ENFORCE THEM – Boundaries are important in any healthy relationship. They eliminate the need for blaming and allow us to protect ourselves. Perhaps you can suggest better ways for an abusive person to speak to you. Perhaps you need to avoid that person altogether. If you begin doubting yourself, ask for reassurance from your support network.

4. POINT OUT THE BEHAVIOUR – During intense situations, our emotions can get the best of us. Sometimes we say or do things we don’t mean. Pointing out abusive behaviour as it happens might “snap” someone out of it. Try discussing the problems and think of solutions.

5. WHEN IT IS TIME TO LET GO – Sometimes people can’t or won’t change negative behaviours. If a friend or partner will not make the effort to change abusive behaviour, then it’s time to leave. A healthy relationship comes from good communication, friendship, and love, not hurt.

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If you worry you’re on the receiving end of verbal abuse, a professional counselor can help develop strategies to protect yourself. Call Depression and Relationship Counselling Services at (519) 253-1519. You can also email us at