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Understanding verbal abuse in a relationship

Texas law holds provisions against the verbal and emotional abuse of spouses or adult partners. Some individuals might have questions about what constitutes this practice and where the line exists between abusive behaviors and arguments or disagreements.

When it comes to verbal abuse, certain behaviors show up again and again.

Clear signs of verbal abuse

Information from Healthline describes verbal abuse as when a person uses words to repeatedly demean, frighten or control another person. A number of practices fall into the category of verbal and emotional abuse:

  • Name-calling
  • Constant criticism
  • Condescension
  • Manipulation
  • Accusations
  • Isolation

Most instances of verbal abuse have roots in the desire to control another person. It can help to have a better understanding of what a normal disagreement looks like. Though disagreements can seem unpleasant and evoke negative feelings, they do not happen all of the time and they do not dissolve into name calling or personal attacks.

While regular disagreements often involve anger, they do not rule out the possibility of compromise. Sometimes people say hurtful things in an argument, but this does not lead to threats or character assassination campaigns.

Subtle signs

Not all instances of verbal abuse seem so clearcut as threats or name-calling. For example, circular arguments can suggest a problem with the relationship that could move into the category of abuse. This involves a person bringing up the same argument not with the intention of working out a problem but just to sow discord in the relationship.

It helps to know more about verbal and emotional abuse. Some gray areas exist that can create confusion for individuals and could lead to legal jeopardy.


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