Top 10 Signs Of An Abusive Wife

When we think about abuse the immediate image that comes to mind is a man with a tank top, beer breath, black dress socks, and red eyes.  The media has done a great job type casting men as the perfect depiction of perpetrators of domestic violence.  Of course some men provide the blueprint for that representation, but let’s be clear men are not the only ones that play the role of aggressor in relationships.  Women too are guilty of domestic violence.  The below piece is a phenomenal explanation of the top 10 signs of an abusive wife.  If you find yourself in a relationship with an abusive woman…GET OUT AND GET HELP!!! Your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health deserve better.

By Dr. Tara J Palmatier

Does your girlfriend or wife yell, scream, and swear at you? Do you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your relationship because they just wouldn’t understand? Is your relationship making you feel like you’re slowly going crazy?

If so, you’re probably involved with a woman who is an emotionally abusive bully. Most men don’t want to admit that they’re in an abusive relationship. They describe the relationship and their girlfriend/wife using other terms like crazy, emotional, controlling, bossy, domineering, constant conflict, or volatile. If you use words like this to describe your relationship, odds are you’re being emotionally abused.

Do you recognize any of the following behaviors?

1) Bullying. If she doesn’t get her way, there’s hell to pay. She wants to control you and resorts to emotional intimidation to do it. She uses verbal assaults and threats in order to get you to do what she wants. It makes her feel powerful to make you feel bad. People with a Narcissistic personality are often bullies.

Result: You lose your self-respect and feel outnumbered, sad, and alone. You develop a case ofStockholm Syndrome, in which you identify with the aggressor and actually defend her behavior to others.

2) Unreasonable expectations. No matter how hard you try and how much you give, it’s never enough. She expects you to drop whatever you’re doing and attend to her needs. No matter the inconvenience, she comes first. She has an endless list of demands that no one mere mortal could ever fulfill.

Common complaints include: You’re not romantic enough, you don’t spend enough time with me, you’re not sensitive enough, you’re not smart enough to figure out my needs, you’re not making enough money, you’re not FILL IN THE BLANK enough. Basically, you’re not enough, because there’s no pleasing this woman. No one will ever be enough for her, so don’t take it to heart.

Result: You’re constantly criticized because you’re not able to meet her needs and experience a sense of learned helplessness. You feel powerless and defeated because she puts you in no-win situations.

3) Verbal attacks.This is self-explanatory. She employs schoolyard name calling, pathologizing(e.g., armed with a superficial knowledge of psychology she uses diagnostic terms like labile, paranoid, narcissistic, etc. for a 50-cent version of name calling), criticizing, threatening, screaming, yelling, swearing, sarcasm, humiliation, exaggerating your flaws, and making fun of you in front of others, including your children and other people she’s not intimidated by. Verbal assault is another form of bullying, and bullies only act like this in front of those whom they don’t fear or people who let them get away with their bad behavior.

Result: Your self-confidence and sense of self-worth all but disappear. You may even begin to believe the horrible things she says to you.

4) Gaslighting. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t say that. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It wasn’t that bad. You’re imagining things. Stop making things up.” If the woman you’re involved with is prone to Borderline or Narcissistic rage episodes, in which she spirals into outer orbit, she may very well not remember things she’s said and done. However, don’t doubt your perception and memory of events. They happened and they are that bad.

Result: Her gaslighting behavior may cause you to doubt your own sanity. It’s crazy-making behavior that leaves you feeling confused, bewildered, and helpless.

5) Unpredictable responses. Round and round and round she goes. Where she’ll stop, nobody knows. She reacts differently to you on different days or at different times. For example, on Monday, it’s ok for you to Blackberry work email in front of her. On Wednesday, the same behavior is “disrespectful, insensitive, you don’t love me, you’re a self-important jerk, you’re a workaholic.”By Friday, it could be okay for you to Blackberry again.

Telling you one day that something’s alright and the next day that it’s not is emotionally abusive behavior. It’s like walking through a landmine in which the mines shift location.

Result: You’re constantly on edge, walking on eggshells, and waiting for the other shoe to drop.This is a trauma response. You’re being traumatized by her behavior. Because you can’t predict her responses, you become hypervigilant to any change in her mood or potential outburst, which leaves you in a perpetual state of anxiety and possibly fear. It’s a healthy sign to be afraid of this behavior. It’s scary. Don’t feel ashamed to admit it.

6) Constant Chaos. She’s addicted to conflict. She gets a charge from the adrenaline and drama. She may deliberately start arguments and conflict as a way to avoid intimacy, to avoid being called on her bullshit, to avoid feeling inferior or, bewilderingly, as an attempt to avoid being abandoned. She may also pick fights to keep you engaged or as a way to get you to react to her with hostility, so that she can accuse you of being abusive and she can play the victim. This maneuver is a defense mechanism called projective identification.

Result: You become emotionally punch drunk. You’re left feeling dazed and confused, not knowing which end is up. This is highly stressful because it also requires you to be hypervigilant and in a constant state of defense for incoming attacks.

7) Emotional Blackmail. She threatens to abandon you, to end the relationship, or give you the cold shoulder if you don’t play by her rules. She plays on your fears, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, shame, values, sympathy, compassion, and other “buttons” to control you and get what she wants.

Result: You feel manipulated, used, and controlled.

8 Rejection. She ignores you, won’t look at you when you’re in the same room, gives you the cold shoulder, withholds affection, withholds sex, declines or puts down your ideas, invitations, suggestions, and pushes you away when you try to be close. After she pushes you as hard and as far away as she can, she’ll try to be affectionate with you. You’re still hurting from her previous rebuff or attack and don’t respond. Then she accuses you of being cold and rejecting, which she’ll use as an excuse to push you away again in the future.

Result: You feel undesirable, unwanted, and unlovable. You believe no one else would want you and cling to this abusive woman, grateful for whatever scraps of infrequent affection she shows you.

9) Withholding affection and sex. This is another form of rejection and emotional blackmail. It’s not just about sex, it’s about withholding physical, psychological, and emotional nurturing. It includes a lack of interest in what’s important to you–your job, family, friends, hobbies, activities–and being uninvolved, emotionally detached or shut down with you.

Result: You have a transactional relationship in which you have to perform tasks, buy her things, “be nice to her,” or give into her demands in order to receive love and affection from her. You don’t feel loved and appreciated for who you are, but for what you do for her or buy her.

10) Isolating. She demands or acts in ways that cause you to distance yourself from your family, friends, or anyone that would be concerned for your well-being or a source of support. This typically involves verbally trashing your friends and family, being overtly hostile to your family and friends, or acting out and starting arguments in front of others to make it as unpleasant as possible for them to be around the two of you.

Result: This makes you completely dependent upon her. She takes away your outside sources of support and/or controls the amount of interaction you have with them. You’re left feeling trapped and alone, afraid to tell anyone what really goes on in your relationship because you don’t think they’ll believe you.

You don’t have to accept emotional abuse in your relationship. You can get help or you can end it. Most emotionally abusive women don’t want help. They don’t think they need it. They are the professional victims, bullies, narcissists, and borderlines. They’re abusive personality types and don’t know any other way to act in relationships.

Life is too short to spend one more second in this kind of relationship. If your partner won’t admit she has a problem and agree to get help, real help, then it’s in your best interest to get support, get out, and stay out.

I worked in direct clinical services for over a decade in a variety of settings including a women’s domestic violence crisis center and shelter (yes, you read right), university counseling, substance abuse and inpatient work with the chronically mentally ill. I then worked as a Managing Editor for three start-up web companies.

Dr. Tara is a clinical psychologist that also works as a multimedia editor, writer, web consultant, forum moderator and private coach and consultant that focuses on helping individuals have better relationships. She focusses on helping men (and women) break free of the female-dominated pop psychology stranglehold of the last 30 years that’s confused both men and women and caused untold relationship damage. To see more of Dr. Tara’s work visit Shrink4Men

13 replies
  1. Shaye
    Shaye says:

    @ Uchechukwu Peace Ijeoma, it is an abomination and just as biblically wrong for a husband to abuse his wife in any way. Read further in Ephesians about the husband’s greater responsibility to his wife. And to correct you the wife is not the only one who does the submitting in the marraige relationship, rather it is both husband and wife who submits to one another out of fear for the Lord. God wants harmony in the home and this can only be accomplished through mutual love, honor, and respect.

    No one has the right to be abusive no matter what role they play in a relationship. And no one should allow themselves to be abused in any way. This is not what God honors. Peace and blessings to all.

  2. locutrice
    locutrice says:

    None – yes, *no one* – should act in the manner described in this article. Relationships are meant to be links between two people who build each other up, not tear each other down (nor for one side to be trying to build up the other person while the second partner tears down the first).

    I must admit to being slightly diasppointed with the fact that the heading mentions wives alone, but there is truth to the fact that we are too often portrayed as the weaker ones and the men as the ones more prone to abusive behaviour, so much so that stereotypes about women always occupying the role of victim and men always being in the role of aggressor have sprung up – and these stereotypes trap both sexes, albeit in different ways:
    1) Some might behave in a similar manner to the stereotype associated with their sex because they expect it to be the norm;
    2) The stereotypes act as a cover for others to reverse the roles because, with the majority being fed the stereotypical "men abusing women"-type yarns, few would believe that the reverse situation (women abusing men) exists.
    Neither situation is desirable, and I honestly doubt God meant for it to be this way, even when He decreed the man to be the head.

    @ Vince: Might I ask for clarification on these points: on *what* sort of statistics are you basing your statement that "A LOT of women [are] guilty of [emotional abuse]" or that "a great number of women [come] from broken homes"? On what sort of scale are you basing those approximative figures (hundreds? thousands?), and where did you get your information from?

    @ PeterInWisconsin: *Everywhere*? That *might* be stretching things a little (you're implying – or you could be taken to be implying – that, universally, women are abusive). Not all women are like this, I'm sure, just as the percentage of abusive men – or truly loving husbands – is not 100%.

    @ Uchechukwu Peace Ijeoma: Might I ask you this, then: would it be biblically right for a male to act in any of the ways detailed in the article? (I'm not disputing your point; I just want to see if you and I are on the same page where abusive behaviour is concerned.)

    @ Briana @ 20&Engaged: I agree with you; misandrist behaviour needs to stop. Hate needs to stop on all sides, be we female or male, and we need to ensure that future generations do not take their anger out on their spouses (whether the latter be the husband or the wife).

    @ Jakki: True that. Your words could apply to any individual, though. Would that we all had this sort of wisdom…

  3. Uchechukwu Peace Ijeoma
    Uchechukwu Peace Ijeoma says:

    It is an abomination and biblically wrong for a Female to act like that. Proverb 21:9 says ‘ it is better to live on the roof than share the house with a nagging wife’ Woman was made for the Man, Created from Man and entrusted to Man. See Genesis 2:21, 3:16. Every Wife must be submissive to her Husband because God made him the Head of the Family as Christ is the Head of the Church. When anybody notices that kind of abuse, he shouldn’t delay to go for counselling before one looses ones life. Life is too short to be in such a Hell now!

  4. Sojourner Thomas
    Sojourner Thomas says:

    What about men who are being beat? There are plenty of men who are physically being abused by the spouse and these men most of the time are ashamed to talk or report the abuser.

  5. PeterInWisconsin
    PeterInWisconsin says:

    Great read. This identifies several behaviors endured by MEN everywhere.

  6. Marshall A Muhammad
    Marshall A Muhammad says:

    it does get to you after awhile you never seem to get it right and self doubt is the product of such a gnawing away at one character and the saddest issue to face is they are most likely doing these thing to you because its been what they saw as a young lady too them its love

  7. Vette
    Vette says:

    My Son is going through that right now. And the sad thing is they just had a baby one month old. She is abusive , I have seen it for my self. Now she is using the baby as a tool. she gets on his FB and Twiiter and paste girls pictures and says she will destroy him, now I'm just the grandmother and I love my grandaughter and Son and I'm trying to hold back from really getting in that a$$. I'm just thinking we need to go to court and get visitation.

  8. Radiah
    Radiah says:

    Can we get a similar post for baby mothers? My husband deals with this from his son’s mother and because they have a son involved, he has extra guilt which makes it doubly hard for him to realize that this is how she is. He saw enough to make him leave her – but doesn’t recognize the same behavior in their dealings related to their son. And of course, he won’t hear it from me. But because I am not the bully/emotionally abusive one – I sit back and try and wait for him to see it for himself. But Lord only knows how long that is going to take. smh…

  9. the suburban thug
    the suburban thug says:

    I’ve definitely experienced most of these “symptoms”. I got my wonderful daughter out of the situation, but in hindsight, it was truly NOT a healthy relationship for me or her. Thanks for sharing the warnings signs; hopefully more men will pay attention to them.

  10. Jakki
    Jakki says:

    Women we need to hear this, because many times we are so busy looking at what someone is or isn't doing, we fail to look at ourselves… So glad to have grown pass this stage in my life, I use to display one or two of these signs, I had to step back and take a good look at myself, deal with my pass hurts and frustrations and I became a woman who now knows how to love myself; therefore capable of knowing how to love a man~

  11. Chris
    Chris says:

    Thank you for posting this. I'm glad that someone is bold enough to point the finger at someone other than black men. There's a lot of crazy ass women out here pretending to be sane. And there's a lot of sane women out here a missed phone call away from going crazy. Thanks for showing that women aren't the only victims…..and men aren't the only perpetrators.

  12. Vince
    Vince says:

    Their are A LOT of women guilty of emotionally abusing their men. It makes sense though considering the fact there's a great number of women coming from broken homes.

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