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The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond
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The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  3,776 ratings  ·  213 reviews
In this fully expanded and updated third edition of the bestselling classic, you learn why verbal abuse is more widespread than ever, and how you can deal with it. You'll get more of the answers you need to recognize abuse when it happens, respond to abusers safely and appropriately, and most important, lead a happier, healthier life.

In two all-new chapters, Evans reveals
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 1st 2003 by Adams Media (first published May 1st 1992)
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 ·  3,776 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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Katya Kean
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: katya-faves, 4-z
This book blew my mind. It takes so much confusion out of human interactions.

It's one of the maybe 10 books that have actually changed the way I look at all of humanity, as well as my own behavior. The sense of clarity, peace, and empowerment that I got from this book has made it, rather awkwardly, one of my new favorite books.

Me - "I just read an amazing book on Verbally Abusive Relationships! You should totally read this!"
Friend - "Uh, wow, why are you reading a book on that?"
Me - "Um..."
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you put a frog ina pot of boiling water it will jump out; but if the frog goes into cold water that heats gradually, it will stay in and die.

The same is true for any habitual recipient of verbal abuse. you learn to accept things no person should accept. Ultimately you need to make a choice to leave, unless you have been able to set limits and stop it before then.

This seems so simple when you read about it in a book such as this one, but it is not so easy in practice after you have been wound
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction-read
I have read this amazing book many times, it will help you recognise and get your sanity back if living with verbal abuse, it was this book that opened my eyes in my previous marriage to what was really going on. Highly recommended. I can't rate this book highly enough.

If you are unsure of what verbal abuse is you will know by reading this book. You will learn new ways to respond to the abuse and how to know what is "them" and what is you. Verbal abuse can be subtle sarcastic digs or can be ful
Dec 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Annette by: Gail
Shelves: self-help
Patricia Evans did an outstanding job on the "How to Recognize" part of this book, however the rest of the book is terribly inadequate. Ms. Evans based this book on 40 interviews that she had with women who had been verbally abused by men. I wish that she would've stated this in the title or subtitle. I was turned off by the fact that she totally fails to recognize the fact that woman can be just as verbally abusive as men.

Another thing that bothers me is that Evans is not a psychologist which
Feb 28, 2008 rated it liked it
This review is taken from my blog at I apologize if there are any places where the formatting didn't transfer.

This entry will be more of a story than a real book review.

I've been fascinated for a long time by the subject of verbal & emotional abuse. I call it "white collar" abuse. Like white collar crime is harder to detect and a bit more sophisticated than knocking an old lady on the head with a beer bottle. What I call "white collar abuse" is abuse tha
Armando Espinoza
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First off, let me start by saying that I'm a guy. I had a time in my life where I became someone I didn't want to be. I somehow lost my way, and I was becoming the "verbal abuser" described in this book until I realized that I was turning into a monster and changed all of that. Knowing if you're in an abusive relationship is extremely hard, especially since there are usually no witnesses to the abusive behavior. I can tell you from experience that everything Patricia Evans says about "verbal abu ...more
Leo Robertson
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, fascinating and probably of use to most people.

I found this easier to read than the other book I'd read by Evans—I think because the other one introduced so much new terminology and had to do with the complex concept of internalisation. This book is more straightforward and empowering and outlines a number of essential concepts that we don't normally consider, such as what are reasonable demands for an adult relationship, when are we right to ignore someone's insistence that we are ov
Feb 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This was my non-fiction for February. After reading The Gift of Fear last year, it was an interesting to follow up with another look at abuse and violence. Even as much as I read, it can be very difficult for me to understand why people let themselves stay in abusive relationships for as long as they do, but one thing I really appreciated about this book was the way it described all the different types of verbal abuse - some of which I wouldn't have considered abusive at all, but maybe just frus ...more
Kathleen Anderson
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
i am working toward becoming my highest self, the best possible person in Christ's Love, so i can be more like Jesus. it is amazing how often i hear "unlove" in words and see this in action. my ministry vision is to promote seeing the God-given dignity in each person, "from conception to natural death" as Catholic Christianity states. combine this with the infant and toddler neuroscience and how the tiniest humans' brains are formed, and we can transform our entire human family! i do believe in ...more
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Although the main focus of this book is on couples, it is also extremely useful regarding friends, family, colleagues.
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
This was one of the better books I've read on the subject. It offers clear insight into the problems of mentally/verbally abusive relationships without adopting the “blame the victim” mentality so many of the other books had. For someone struggling with their decisions already, those types of books only make things worse. Although, this book, like the others, has suggestions for how to make things work with your abuser which doesn't help either if they don't want to pursue it. It just makes you ...more
Nov 30, 2009 rated it liked it
To sum this up:
1) If your relationship with someone is not absolutely wonderful then the man is an abuser.
2) If the woman saying “stop” does not immediately fix the issue and turn it into a wonderful relationship then the end the relationship.

This book was a slow read for me and I ended up needing to renew the library book two or three times to give myself time to finish it. Part of what slowed it down for me is the book is very detailed. There are many lists with 10 to over 20 items each. I was
Vanessa K.
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone - information is always a good thing
Recommended to Vanessa by: Desiree
I think that everyone should read this book. It helped me to realize some of the very non obvious forms of verbal abuse. There are so many things that happened to me that I never would have thought or considered verbal abuse until I read this book and was better able to understand my own circumstance. This book has helped me to understand myself better, my situation better, and to move forward with my life. The reason I think everyone should read this book is because it defines the many facets o ...more
Cecily Erker
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was a godsend to me when I picked it up at Goodwill for 50 cents. It helped me free myself from an extremely unhealthy and abusive relationship with my mother. I also read passages of it to my dad, who has been divorced from her for years but is still working through his own trauma from his marriage and his childhood. My aunt just happened to also have a copy of it and it led to a very eye opening discussion between me, her and my dad where I learned about her own abusive husband and h ...more
Ann Alton
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Saved. My. Life.

Seems a bit dramatic, i know, but it helped me to understand that most abuse isn't the kind you can see. I left a relationship that was bad on both sides because of it. So a gigantic thanks to the author.
Magnus Lidbom
Does a good job of showing what verbal abuse is and how you can recognize it. If it stopped there I would give it a far better score. Instead it "explains" the motivation behind abuse with ONE explanation for every case of abuse ever. I sincerely believe that the absurdly oversimplified black and white victim and perpetrator world view that this books pushes at you with virtually every single sentence is profoundly dangerous and destructive rather than helpful and constructive. If you have suffe ...more
Nick Blasier
I learned a lot about myself for sure, but honestly, my biggest take away from this book: as someone looking to understand potentially abusive behaviors they exhibit, and looking to change them, I feel thoroughly verbally abused by this book, by her own definitions. I can't count how many times it was repeated that I was unlikely to change, out of control, would only get worse, lived in a false and different reality, am incapable of empathy, on and on and on. I'm not sure the fact that it wasn't ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is a powerhouse. It covers, in highly relateable terms, every imaginable scenario of abuse that DOESN'T involve physical abuse. "Verbal Abuse" is an unfortunate term with which we are stuck. Unfortunate because non-physical abuse is most often much more than name-calling or yelling at someone. It ranges from controlling behavior, manipulation, oppression, degradation, all the way to emotional terrorism. You will learn how to recognize abusive behavior, whether in yourself (sometimes a ...more
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who's feeling bad about the way someone else treats them
Recommended to Kelly by: my mom
I have recommended this book dozens of times since purchasing it a decade ago. When my mom gave me just one chapter to read, I found myself on the way to healing. It made so much sense. Now I know what to look for when people try to play mind games, or try to manipulate a rational person with irrational tactics. I cut them out of my life! I'd give it ten stars if I could.

recommended for women who are losing self-confidence from the way their husbands treat them. Anyone experiencing abuse from an
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever lived close to a verbally abusive person!
My father was verbally very abusive when I grew up. He still is everytime I see him. This book helped me understand better what was going on. I felt empowered reading it, learning that it was not something wrong with me and that my feelings and reactions to the horrible situations that I have been subject to was accurate and healthy.

Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Enlightening. It explained my own experience and my responses to that experience. I recommend the book to anyone who has been through it, wonders if they are going through it, or knows someone who is.
I wrote a review but then my laptop froze so I lost it. I should really learn better and continue writing my reviews on Word and copying/pasting them here.

I've had this book checked out from the library for a while and even had to renew its due date because I didn't get to it in time. When I found out I couldn't renew it (again) because someone had a hold on it, I forced myself to read it.

I had to skim this book pretty quickly, but I did take a few notes somewhere. In the first section Evans ta
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you believe that you have ever been verbally abused or even if you want to read more about it, I would recommend this book to you. Usually when you think of abuse, you think of physical abuse. Verbal abuse does not leave visible scars, but the emotional scars that it leaves are hard to heal.

Sometimes we go along in life and think that we have to just go along with whatever life hands us. Even if you get into a relationship that is verbally abusive, you may not even realize it. Read this book
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
this book hit me like a tonne of brick.. most of us wouldn't know we are in an abusive relationship.. most of the time, we just accepted it as part of who (the abuser) are..

although verbal abuse relationship are not physically visual, the effects in has on one self-confidence and personality is just as damaging or maybe even more than a physical abuse..

words can really hurt a person.. and when i read this book, i realized that i was in an abusive relationship.. and Thank God i walked out.. this
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That I WASN"T crazy...If the words or attitude disempower, disrespect, or devalue the other, than they are abusive. In a verbally abusive relationship, the partner learns to tolerate abuse w/o realizing it & to lose self-esteem w/o realizing it. She is blamed by the abuser and becomes the scapegoat. Crazymaking.....
Evans relates the prevalence of verbal abuse as it relates to the power-over dominance promoted in our me-first society. Think Bullies.
This book in particular helped save my sanity a
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book provides a powerful framework for understanding the dynamics of verbally abusive relationships. So often, such relationships start off seemingly benign, and only after time, do the abusive behaviors begin to appear. Victims often don't realize what is happening to them as their entire sense of self becomes so unraveled in the face of constant abuse. Evans helps shed light on what is happening to victims of abuse while empowering them to take steps to change their situation. I recommend ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gender-studies
So, verbal abuse is a gender issue because, as with rape, it is nearly always the male wanting to dominate the female. It is about control and keeping the female in a subordinate position.
Updating my counselling skills training which was based on the problems being a 50/50 fault. No wonder is does not work in the case of verbal abuse. This has spurred me on to read more 'up to date' books in the 'gender studies' genre. 4 rather than 5 stars because of the waffling style with too much case histo
Jan 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Overall it was a good book that I would recommend to anyone who has a verbally abusive person in their life. My main complaint is that the author only used examples of women being verbally abused by men, and only in romantic relationships. It was just strange to me that it was so specifically geared toward women in verbally abusive marriages. I gave it 3 stars because the subject itself is really important, and Evans speaks clearly to her very specific audience.

Carolina Liechtenstein
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book gave me a great deal of clarity on what is going on when one is in an abusive relationship. It has also helped me cope with casual and social networking encounters that are abusive. This book is already changing my life, where I had been a narcissist magnet. I reject the patriarchy, and its female enablers, now that I see it clearly. It is true that cultural elements factor strongly in patriarchal abuse of children and women.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-psychology
pretty good. Some of the abuse was pretty extreme and nonrelatable for the average victim though
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Patricia Evans is the bestselling author of five books, including The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out, Controlling People, The Verbally Abusive Man: Can He Change? and Victory Over Verbal Abuse. She has appeared on Oprah, CNN, national radio, and in Newsweek and O, The Oprah Magazine. She has spoken to groups throughout the US, Canada, Madrid at the "Commission for ...more

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