A message to all wives: Words can be a weapon too 174

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A few years ago one of my baby boomer girlfriends came to me in tears. She had been married for about 10 years at the time and her relationship with her husband had always been a bit rocky. But the tears were over something that had come out of the blue and she just couldn’t even comprehend.

“You”, he told her, “have been abusing me throughout our marriage”.

“What on earth are you talking about,” she responded. “I have never touched you”.

“No, not physical abuse, but you are guilty of another type of abuse – emotional abuse,” he said. “You constantly tell me I’m dumb. You might not be hitting me but your words are doing just as much damage over a long time”.

Predictably, their conversation ended in an all-out yelling match, which had added to her deep distress at the accusation.

I tried to do what I could to calm my friend down, and suggested that maybe they should both get some counselling, but she and her husband split up soon afterwards. The accusation was the final nail in the coffin of their relationship.

I will never know if my girlfriend was guilty of emotional abuse, but the fact she was accused of it highlights what is a very real problem in some relationships.

Here is what one male Starts at 60 reader posted on a story we ran about domestic violence some time ago, decrying the fact that most articles he had read were about women being abused.

“Why do articles like this always paint the female as the abused victim?” he wrote.

“Emotional abuse is a female ‘weapon’. I know, I lived it on and off for nearly 20 years.

“I was constantly being told I was ‘stupid’ that I ‘didn’t know’ and got abused for ‘extravagance’ when I bought McCains frozen peas instead of home brand.

“And the man just has to take it, if he reacts in any way, his abuser has the full force of the law and public opinion on her side. He doesn’t even have to physically assault her to be condemned.

“How many times have you seen a woman giving her husband a ‘mouthful’ in public, compared to the reverse?”

So, while we tend to hear more about domestic violence being perpetrated on women, it seems men can be on the receiving end of domestic violence and emotional abuse too. Even words can be a damaging weapon if you don’t think about what you are saying and think about the impact on the person you are saying them too. And sometimes we don’t even know we are doing them.

Has any male you know ever encountered emotional abuse like that described above? Tell us your experience. 


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  1. i suppose men can as well. my husband picks his words very carefully, my memory is astounding

    1 REPLY
    • My response was the same as your husband’s & then I was criticised for taking too long to respond. And you’re right about that 30 year memory, except she could never recall previous conversations in which she came to a different viewpoint even if I could assist by recalling the date relative to other events in the period, the place, & the circumstances. So how does that work?

  2. I agree with this. I would not want to be put down constantly like that. I once lived next to a family with 5 children. I cringed every day as I heard the mother telling those kids they were stupid, or that she could not stand them, or to get out of her sight she never wanted to see them again. I doubt she meant what she was saying, but to a small child those words could be devastating. We all need to be respectful in our words when talking to our loved ones, no matter what their age.

    5 REPLY
    • My mother’s??? Favorite was, l will put you in a home. Believe me she meant it. She hated me and shoes it. I was about six when l first remember it. I heard it all my life.

    • Sue Gardner I think this lady probably meant it also. I can’t see how anyone could use words like this if they did not mean them.

    • my dad is a Narcissist ,while my mother was co–dependent…I then went on to marry a Covert Narcissist…as that is what I grew up with,and was my normal….To the outside world.my now ex was a humble,quiet “good”man ,(covert narcissist)that brainwashed me over a period of time ,into believing I was the bad person…….so many victims ,living my experience are still living in fear like this behind closed doors…what happens to you in childhood changes who you become as an Adult,as females model on their mum,and boys model on ther dad…….We have also been brought up in a patriacal society,in which the man was given power over the female…..We as a society must change this culture if we are to overcome Domestic Violence!!!!

  3. I often hear women on planes speaking abusively to their husbands and it really upsets me. Neuroscience has proved that emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse. So important that both sexes respect each other and accept our differences.

    1 REPLY
  4. I have lived with this too,it is a power thing and is usually handed down from parents ,it is a case of monkey see monkey do my husbands grandfather did it and his father ,my husband hated the way his father treated his mum but alas he followed suit

    2 REPLY
    • Mine is not a women hater he has to be boss ,but he would tell anyone that he wants to be equal with his wife and he truly believes that but his behaviour gives him away

  5. Respect is about treating others as you want to be treated and when you degrade others, you are really asking others to degrade you

  6. Yes it has come to light and I knew it all along my ex husband had done his level best to use this type of abuse on me for years and I walked away 30years only now do I believe that some one in my family who is or was very close has been doing this to me and I have allowed it that is until Monday the final straw come and slapped me up the side of the head(in words) when I said not to him or his wife that enough is enough NO MORE. In my heart it hurts and in my soul its seems to be feeling very good. His wife and her mother (DEC) were are serious offenders and NOT one person stops them> Well guess what it stops with me now. I am a valuable person with gifts to give and a beautiful spirit and they aren’t doing it to me anymore.

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