101 Things an Abuser Might Say

“Love…is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its intimidationown…”

I Corinthians 13:4-5 (in part)

The abuser claims to care, but it is not love that motivates him.  His end-game is to assume total domination and control over his victim, to coerce his bride into accommodating his egocentric agenda and surrendering to his all-encompassing will. To accomplish his purpose, he has at the ready an arsenal of verbal strategies and cues designed to invoke a predetermined response in his victim.  His design is to dismiss, disarm, distract, confound and ultimately intimidate his victim into forfeiting her person-hood and assuming a role as his powerless possession.

Bearing these things in mind, here are 101 things you might hear an abuser say.


  1. You’re a nag.
  2. You’re a witch.
  3. You’re a whore.
  4. You’re a liar.
  5. You’re a loser.


  1. You’re fat.
  2. You’re ugly.
  3. You’re stupid.
  4. You’re lazy.
  5. You’re selfish.
  6. You’re crazy.
  7. You’re sick.
  8. You’re deluded.
  9. You’re psychotic.
  10. You’re worthless.
  11. You’re pathetic.
  12. You’re a horrible wife.
  13. You disgust me.


  1. Shut up
  2. Leave me alone.
  3. Go away.
  4. I don’t care.
  5. Stop wasting my time.
  6. Don’t even think about it.
  7. You don’t want to go there.
  8. If you don’t like it, you can leave.


  1. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
  2. Whatever gave you that idea?
  3. I never said that.
  4. Don’t be ridiculous.
  5. You never make any sense.
  6. You are always exaggerating.
  7. Everyone agrees with me.
  8. You’re wrong, and that’s all there is to it.


  1. How dare you.
  2. You should be ashamed of yourself.
  3. This is all your fault.
  4. Who do you think you are?
  5. You got what you deserved.
  6. You don’t know how good you have it.
  7. I don’t need you; you need me.
  8. After all I have done for you; this is the thanks I get.
  9. You should be apologizing to me.


You just need to be more…

  1. …forgiving;
  2. …patient;
  3. …unselfish;
  4. …understanding;
  5. …submissive;
  6. …gentle;
  7. …quiet;
  8. …respectful
  9. …sensual.
  10. I said I’m sorry.
  11. It’s not that big of a deal.
  12. You need to get over it.
  13. You’re always overreacting.
  14. You’re overly sensitive.
  15. All you do is complain.
  16. Nothing I do is ever good enough for you.
  17. What more do you want from me?
  18. You can’t take a joke.
  19. You expect too much.
  20. You are never satisfied.
  21. You’re not perfect.
  22. You just need to trust me.


  1. I make the decisions around here.
  2. I don’t care if you made plans; I just changed them.
  3. This conversation is over.
  4. Stop talking.
  5. Just do as I say.
  6. There is nothing you can say that will make me change my mind.
  7. Don’t ever bring it up again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re not going to…

  1. …get your degree;
  2. …get a job;
  3.  …make me look bad;
  4. …leave me with the kids;
  5. …spend time with your friends;
  6. …spend time with your family;
  7. …have people over to the house;
  8. …go anywhere without my permission.

I never said you could spend money on…

  1. …household repairs;
  2. …social outings;
  3. …clothing or personal needs;
  4. …medical attention;
  5. And by the way, we’re moving away.


  1. You have no idea what I am capable of.
  2. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to the children.

If you ever decide to leave me…

  1. …you’ll be sorry;
  2. …I will make your life a living hell;
  3. … you won’t get a dime from me;
  4. …someone’s going to get hurt;
  5. …you will never see your kids again;
  6. …no one else will ever want you.
  7. …no one will ever find you.

Faith-based exploitation:

  1. I am the head of this house.
  2. You must submit to me.
  3. Your body belongs to me.
  4. If you divorce me, I will make sure everyone knows you’re the one who gave up on our marriage.
  5. I have already talked to our pastor, and he’s on my side.


  1. You know I love you.
  2. I promise it will never happen again.

These  comments that correlate with an abuser mindset only scratch the surface of the array of verbal and non-verbal means an abuser will use to intimidate a bewildered victim.  Other tactics include raging, cursing, isolation, the silent treatment, posturing and physically blocking, glaring, terrorizing (throwing things, slamming doors, harming pets, etc.), destroying or selling personal property, material deprivation, neglect, financial hoarding, and sexual abuse.

If this pattern represents the kind of relationship in which you find yourself, I have given you 101 reasons to get out.

Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved

8 thoughts on “101 Things an Abuser Might Say”

  1. Hi, Cindy. Very accurate, as usual.

    Unfortunately, underneath the vitriol implied in the statements is what is perhaps most frightening of all, once we understand it: abusers feel ENTITLED to abuse.

    Sadly some targets don’t realize this until it might be too late, especially in certain Christian circles where patriarchal notions about male superiority and entitlement to “be submitted to by the wife” contribute to the evil.

    It is very hard to extricate from this kind of a relationship, but it is possible.

    1. Hello, P.

      You are right. And there is perhaps another, more subtle component – the church’s presumption that the abuser means well, that he is merely ignorant of the effects of his actions or has wounds that need to be tended; that he simply needs to be well-respected and loved. It is a denial of the true nature of the abuser and abuse. Then add to this the notion that God hates divorce (which is a horrendously incorrect interpretation of Scripture), and Christian counselors essentially impose mandatory reconciliation even where overt wickedness is present.

      That’s another piece I’m working on… It’s truly stunning how profoundly harmful this combination of instruction and dogma can be.

      It’s good to hear from you. I always appreciate your input.


  2. A put down my ex used to say to me whenever I would apologize for something — “Yes, you ARE sorry”.

    Although many of the #101 rang true for me, #92 and 98 especially. He threatened to take our boys if I ever tried to leave him…you know, that should have told me right then and there that he knew exactly what he was doing since he obviously had to threaten me to keep me.

    And #98 — oh yes. He told everyone that I only wanted a divorce and was not willing to reconcile even though he loved me and wanted to save our marriage. And all this after HE left me!

    What was always so hard for me to understand is how anyone could treat another person like my ex treated me. How can you speak such evil hateful things to someone and just not care?? It was and is beyond me how people treat one another with such cruelty.

    I once really hated my ex, especially for all the horrible things he did after he walked out on me and our two boys, but today I can honestly say I have no hate for him only pity. I do though despise how he ripped a family apart and almost destroyed the relationship between our two sons, and tried to put the blame on me without ever taking responsibility. He still plays the victim to this day. I just feel sorry for him.

    I thank God daily that he delivered me from such an evil marriage and then brought a wonderful man into my life in which I’ve been happily married to for almost 6 years now!

    Thank you for being a voice for victims of abuse. I always pass on your information whenever women contact me.

    1. Hello, Amy, and let me just say, “Yikes!” You have been through hell and lived to tell about it. Your abuser is a scary beast – a miserable man who must try to cut off the giant’s legs to try to make himself feel taller. I’m so sorry for what you and your sons have been through, but what a blessing that you have found a man who loves and appreciates you. It’s a sweet validation that it was never your fault or your responsibility to fix it.

      There are some very wicked people out there masquerading as normal folk and people of faith. But like you shared, once we get past the anger and see who these people really are, it makes it easier to let them go. They have made the choice to treat people the way they do. No matter what any of us has been through, we can always decide to change…

      Thanks for taking the time to share.

      And thank you for sending hurting women my way. I’m happy to help if I can.



  3. “….presumption that the abuser means well, that he is merely ignorant of the effects of his actions or has wounds that need to be tended; that he simply needs to be well-respected and loved.”
    That statement, alone is so much of what I have had to contend with from the “churched” and secular by-standers. Notice I referred to them as by-standers? Yes, they want to know how I am but will only ‘stand-by’ and not approach ‘him’ about his behavior. Many believe he is suffering. I have had someone tell me that he takes full responsibility for the dysfunctional family. REALLY? If he is taking responsibility then why doesn’t he repent and truly show that he loves me as his wife? Why do adult children and others condone such wickedness and feel sorry for him??
    I apologize for my “letting go moment” … I’m frustrated with the way I seem to still be in a fog and unable to move forward more quickly. What makes matters worse is that I’m being emotionally abused at my present place of employment.
    I’m concerned that my messed up life certainly doesn’t portray the “Christian” witness that others feel I should be living.

    1. Hello, Friend.

      You do not need to apologize for anything. Stumbling into the truth is helpful, but it is a sobering reminder of the half-truths and lies into which we have been indoctrinated. Just because other people don’t understand your pain doesn’t mean that your pain isn’t real or justified. I pray that you can find your way out of the fog, to identify and dispel the lies and stand on the bedrock of truth that has the power to set you free.

      You are also welcome to e-mail me and, if you are ever interested, I also provide phone consultations for a reasonable cost. There is more information on the website, and it has been extremely helpful for those who have used this service. I just want you to learn how to trust your instincts and your experience, and then to have the strength to act on what you know.

      All the best,


  4. I have just stumbled into your blog so I am rather late in adding my comment. My husband is a very passive person and appears gentle and subdued on the surface. I am so hesitant to refer to him as abusive. On the surface he is helpful and seems loving. He would make sure I have my breakfast and dinner and take care of our children.

    He worked for a few years after our marriage and then gave up after my first child was born. He said he was not needed in his place of work but I am not sure of the real reason. He looked for jobs for a while and then stopped. We moved to another state, at his insistence to find better working opportunities. I found a good job but he did not, since we arrived and that brings us to 16 years. Now he has lost the confidence to work. Instead he looks after our kids.

    Since he did not or could not find a job, I let him look after our kids. I did not want to push him to look for a job because that always ended in arguments. What I did not know was that he started viewing porn on a regular basis. He denied it each time I confronted him and that would end in another argument. Each argument left me feeling that I was always wrong. My husband kept accusing me that I could not admit my faults. He would accuse my family of being cold, distant and that they had no clothes sense. I would get angry and fight back and the argument would then go on and on. He even started an argument once saying I was looking cynical.

    It may have been the influence of the porn but after a while he started to neglect me and refused any physical contact. He would give various excuses but it was always my fault. i was fat sometimes and other times I was not sexy or on other occasions he said I was aggressive and men were not attracted to this quality he said. All these years I believed him and viewed myself as worthless, ugly, incapable of being loved by anyone and having no value at all.

    I believe he was having affairs with other women although I have no proof. I did ask for divorce a number of times and he said he was committed to our marriage and wanted to work at it. It was all empty words as he continued with his conduct as before and showed no repentance.

    There was a much darker side to him which I never told anyone. I had quite a bit of jewellery given to me by family members. I kept them in the jewellery box in my cabinet. One day, there was a burglary in my house and the jewellery got stolen. Only the jewellery and not the loose cash or computer. I have always doubted whether it was burglary because the burglar knew exactly where to find my stuff. My home was not messed up or thrashed or ransacked. It was so neatly executed and the burglar did not go to any other room to look around for valuables. I have no proof that my husband took all the jewellery and staged the burglary. But at that time we were away from family and I suspect that my husband was already viewing porn at that time and possibly having girlfriends. He did not even suggest making a police report.

    He has now admitted to having a girlfriend but he has not ended the affair. Every day I live with the fact that he is communicating with the girl. He has shown no remorse and I am now wondering if he was ever a Christian.

    In my state spouses are entitled to half the assets in a divorce. I hate the thought that he would get what I worked so hard for. I am at a loss. May be deep down I still love him.


    1. Hello, Ann. I am glad you took the time to write, but I so grieved to read your story.

      There is a lot of information here on the site that might help you. Several articles come to mind that I would urge you to read for starters:

      Am I Being Abused?

      Why The Abuse Victim Doesn’t Leave (In Six Words)

      Give Me Five Minutes

      Isolation: Another Weapon in the Abuser’s Arsenal

      I would also like to take a moment to simply acknowledge the very real offenses that have been committed against you. Those things were not your fault or your imagination. Pornography use is a form of adultery, and he has obviously been unfaithful to you. His lack of repentance is not just appalling but, from where I sit, unacceptable. Why should you ever be expected to live with that? And your suspicions concerning the theft of your jewelry also seem valid based on what you shared. That’s not what love does.

      I can understand your concern about finances should you consider separating. In this vein, I would simply encourage you to consider meeting with a family law attorney or research the legal options available where you live. The longer you wait, the more difficult things may become. Information will at least give you a starting point and options to consider should you decide to make a change.

      I hope you will let me know what you decide to do. And if I can direct you to other resources, let me know what kind of information you may need, and I will do what I can. I also provide phone consultations, and if you are interested, you can check out how that works on the website. Consultations are generally very effective, and most clients only require one or two sessions to get grounded. Just something to keep in mind…

      Again, I appreciate that you took the time to write. The more you grow in knowledge, the stronger you will become. I truly believe that.

      I’m sorry if there are duplicate article links – my system is not cooperating…


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