If we look at verbal abuse as a means of maintaining control and power over someone, we can think of the types of verbal abuse listed and explained in this post as being ways that someone tries to dominate or control their partner.
Does this mean that the abuser actually feels more powerful when he (or she), for instance, subtly puts down his partner’s interests? Yes, as incomprehensible as this is to some of us. Does this mean that their partner feels put down? Not always. He or she may feel a twinge of sadness because they cannot share this interest. Or he or she may feel a twinge of sadness that their partner can’t enjoy, say, a particular artist or composer. Does this mean that the abuser can’t (or doesn’t) enjoy this pleasure? Not always; he or she may simply find greater pleasure in feeling that they have power over their partner.
We will also see that verbal abuse prevents real relationships. This seems obvious, but the partner of an abuser may live under the illusion that he or she has a real relationship. This may be for a number of reasons; an important one is that, as a couple, the abuser and their partner may function adequately in their respective roles. Verbal abusers generally experience many of their feelings as anger. For instance, if a verbal abuser feels unsure and anxious he may simply feel angry—possibly angry that he is feeling unsure and anxious. Yet part of being human is the ability to feel. The ability to feel, like the ability to think, is universal to humanity. Unfortunately, the abuser is generally unwilling to accept his feelings and unwilling to reveal them to a partner. He builds a wall between himself and his partner and maintains that distance.
Withholding is primarily manifested as a withholding of information and a failure to share thoughts and feelings. A person who withholds information refuses to engage with his or her partner in a healthy relationship. He or she does not share feelings or thoughts. When he or she does share anything, it is purely factual or functional information of the sort their partner could have looked up online, read on his or her Facebook wall, or figured out on their own. Examples of withholding communication that fail to engage the partner include: “The car is almost out of gas”; “The keys are on the table”; and “The show is on now.”