What Should You Do If Your Partner Is Verbally Aggressive Toward You?

Relationships are always complex, but there are certain red lines that should never be crossed. For example, if your partner is verbally aggressive to you, it's important to take steps so that it doesn't become a habit.
What Should You Do If Your Partner Is Verbally Aggressive Toward You?

Last update: 11 December, 2021

Do you often find yourself asking why your partner is so verbally aggressive toward you? Furthermore, wondering why they have no respect for you and don’t ever take your feelings into account. As a matter of fact, communication problems are one of the main factors for feelings of dissatisfaction in romantic relationships.

Human relationships are complex and responsibility often isn’t one-sided. After all, a couple is made up of two individuals who participate in joint dynamics that couldn’t be maintained without the collaboration of one of them.

However, psychological or verbal abuse can cause damage to your self-esteem to such a degree that you’re either unable to recognize what’s happening or you don’t know how to act to remedy it. Therefore, if you’re in this situation, we’re going to offer you some guidelines to help.

Couple arguing

Is the problem a verbally aggressive partner or a communication problem in your relationship?

The first aspect to bear in mind is that your perception of your most intimate relationships isn’t always correct. In fact, your emotional vulnerability when you connect at a deep level with another can lead you to perceive yourself as a victim and label the other as the perpetrator. However, in effect, the problem might really be one of communication.

Sánchez-Aragón and Díaz-Loving described six possible communication patterns in a couple as related to the satisfaction experienced by both partners. Some of these communication styles (such as negative or violent) are clearly harmful and involve contempt, humiliation, and disrespect. However, others, such as reserved or avoidant styles are characterized by a cold and abrupt kind of communication that may cause damage to the partner, but which, in itself, doesn’t imply aggression.

This is especially relevant when the communication and coping styles of both members of the couple are diametrically opposed. For example, if one of the partners needs to talk and express themselves emotionally and the other opts for avoidance and prefers to be alone, it causes conflict.

Often, in these kinds of situations, pressure from the more outspoken person can make the other try to pull away and escape. For this reason, it’s essential to know your own communicative style and that of your partner, so you can find a balance.

Signs of a verbally aggressive partner

In order to clarify whether you’re a victim of verbal aggression or not, here are some typical manifestations of abusive communication:

  • Your partner judges you without trying to understand you.
  • Any attempt at conversation ends in yelling and arguing.
  • They make fun of you.
  • They use sarcasm and irony in order to hurt and ridicule you in front of others.
  • They’re not empathetic toward you.
  • They make you feel guilty.
  • Their goal is to dominate and undervalue you.
  • They always react badly to your views or opinions.

Why are they verbally aggressive?

Occasionally, verbal aggression and disrespect are evident. However, there’s never any justification for your partner to insult, yell, belittle, or mock you. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to understand where these behaviors come from. For example, they could be due to one of the following situations:

  • Your partner’s going through a complicated or stressful personal situation. Consequently, their inability to manage their emotions leads them to react inappropriately toward you.
  • As a couple, you’re immersed in a negative communication dynamic in which you both participate. In fact, disrespect is mutual and the process is escalating.
  • Your partner shows a personality pattern marked by aggressiveness, domination, or a lack of empathy that they maintain over time. This could be due to past trauma and requires personal psychological work.

What should you do?

Whatever the underlying motives, verbal aggression and disrespect shouldn’t be tolerated in a relationship. Therefore, if you find yourself in this situation, try some of the following measures:

  • Acknowledge and accept what’s happening. This is a fundamental first step. You have to stop justifying or minimizing the seriousness of your partner’s behaviors. Facing reality is painful, but the emotional consequences of continuing to allow it to happen will be even more so.
  • Identify the reasons that may be causing them to be verbally aggressive toward you. Are they going through a difficult situation? Do they find it hard to handle stress or anxiety? Is it a trait of their personality? Indeed, it’s always important to know what’s behind this type of behavior. Then, you’ll know the most appropriate actions to resolve the conflict.
  • Express yourself assertively. Let your partner know what kinds of attitudes and behaviors hurt you and what you expect from the relationship.
  • Set boundaries. Everyone has a bad day now and then or feels more stressed and irritated at certain times. However, there are certain red lines that mustn’t be crossed under any circumstances.
  • Take decisions. When you set boundaries, you must accept that these are accompanied by consequences. Therefore, if your partner continues to disrespect you, get away from the situation and end the relationship.
Sad woman because her partner speaks badly to her

Choose you

Having read this article, if you’re now absolutely certain that your partner is being verbally aggressive and disrespectful to you and is damaging you emotionally, you have to make a decision. Indeed, you’re at a key point where you have to choose, and you must choose you.

Ending a relationship is always painful. In fact, the fear of loneliness and the feeling of failure can be paralyzing. Furthermore, giving up the dreams and expectations you built together won’t be easy. However, staying in a harmful bond could be devastating for you on a psychological and emotional level. Therefore, choose to love yourself, take care of yourself, and respect yourself, and don’t stay somewhere you’re not offered the same in return.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sánchez Aragón, R., & Díaz- Loving, R. (2003). Patrones y estilos de comunicación de la pareja: diseño de un inventario. Anales De Psicología / Annals of Psychology19(2), 257-277. Recuperado a partir de https://revistas.um.es/analesps/article/view/27741
  • Otálvaro, L. E. O. (2015). Autoestima y adaptación en víctimas de maltrato psicológico por parte de la pareja. Psicología desde el Caribe32(1), 145-168.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.