12 Signs Of An Abusive Wife And How To Deal With Her

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Although in most relationships, we see men being blamed for wrong behavior, women may be at fault too. Therefore, to better the relationship or check the wrong behavior, it is important to recognize the signs of an abusive wife. Interpersonal relationships reflect a person’s personality. Both men and women are equally responsible for nurturing interpersonal relationships. Therefore, in the absence of proper love and care, a relationship might break. Intimate partner violence (IPV) between married couples is supposed to be a violation of human rights and contributes to public health problems. This post informs you about the characteristics of an abusive wife and gives tips on how to deal with her.

In This Article

Are Men Really Abused By Their Wives?

Women are not the only victims of domestic violence. Since patriarchal notions and gender stereotypes dictate that men are in a position of power in most matters compared to women, it is automatically assumed that men abuse this power against women. This creates a worldview that women can never inflict physical, verbal, or emotional abuse over men (1) (2) (3).

Hence, a man may feel ashamed of accepting any form of abuse from their woman in the first place. A man abused by the wife feels humiliated even to admit such a thing.

12 Signs Of An Abusive Wife

Men tend to exhibit more extroverted behaviors and emotional outbursts, while women can be subtle in their emotional expression. An abusive woman might be much more common than we have been led to believe.

If you are confused about your wife’s behavior, here are 12 signs that tell your wife is abusive. It is possible that the couple might see some of the signs as acceptable behaviors in the relationship even though, the signs may not be necessarily healthy.

1. Ostracizing

 If your woman punishes you with the silent treatment, it’s unhealthy

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Arguments and clash of thoughts is a sign of a healthy relationship as it gives both of you a chance to get to know each other. It is normal for couples to stop talking to each other for a while after a fight. But if your woman believes in punishing you by using the silent treatment, it’s time to wake up!

The silent treatment is a conscious and neglectful choice to ostracize you and stop all communications to make you feel guilty. This could go on for days and can hurt your feelings deeply.

2. Neglect

An abusive wife often neglects affection and physical intimacy as a coercive measure to punish her man for something. Although consensual sex between the partners is the norm, suppressing any physical affection can cause damage to your relationship and emotional connection in the long run. Watch out for this one!

3. Intimidation

Using threats to bully, scare, or intimidate may damage your mental peace

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“I will break this marriage if you don’t do as I say.”

“I will leave you for good if you don’t agree to this…”

Have you heard these lines often? If your answer is yes, your wife is abusive. Using such threats to bully, scare, or intimidate may damage your mental peace and emotional stability.

4. Manipulation

This one is easy to spot. If your woman questions your love or loyalty towards her to validate her stance, she is manipulative and abusive. You will often hear verbal abuses, such as, “You would agree with me if you loved me,” or “You will not meet with that friend of yours if you cared for my feelings.”
Deja vu?

5. Criticism

She may criticize you for everything you do

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Do you often feel “not good enough” for her even though you do everything you could do to nurture the relationship?

If yes, it is possible that you are being criticized for everything you do. For example, it is your anniversary, and you took time out of your busy schedule to organize a get-together with friends despite an important product launch at your company. She says, “I had a good time but only if…, I believe you will always find a way to ruin my mood.”

6. Gaslighting

This may be one of the most subtle but dangerous forms of abuse by your wife. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser repeatedly manipulates the situation to induce the victim to distrust their own memories, beliefs, and opinions. If your partner often makes you question your part in the relationship or your feelings, she is gaslighting you. In doing so, she will make you apologetic and guilty for something you never did!

protip_icon Point to consider
Excess jealousy is another sign you should watch out for. Sometimes jealous wives can also be possessive and make life hell for you

7. Controlling

This is a power-play displayed by an abusive partner in the relationship. She will often want to know about your whereabouts or call you frequently to monitor your movements. She may be doing it because she cares for you and worries about your safety. But if she does it with an intention to control your life, such behavior is less about her concern for you and more about exerting an invisible control over you.

Keep a tab on this one as it can be very subtle to notice.

8. Yelling

Yelling over little things is a sign your wife is abusive

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When couples yell at each other, respect for the foundation of marriage deteriorates. Your spouse has no right to subject you to this or any other form of emotional abuse under any circumstances. If she yells, is aggressive or screams at you often without reason or over little things, it can be mentally upsetting for you. Yelling is another sign that you are living with an abusive wife. This is an unacceptable and demeaning behavior that should not be tolerated.

9. Over-demanding

We have certain expectations of ourselves and those around us. When you are in love, you will have established expectations from your partner, but what if she demands a luxury car when you can only afford a hatchback?

In the long run, such high expectations will not only damage your financial situation but also hurt your family dynamics.

10. Public humiliation

An abusive wife may embarrass you in public

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This one is a no brainer. If your wife deliberately picks fights and arguments in public or discloses certain things about you or your relationship that are inappropriate for social gatherings, she is shaming you and abusing you publicly.

11. Belittling

An abusive wife tends to be dismissive and belittle you by displaying negative body language. She might dismiss your opinion and be critical of you in a public setting. Imagine you are sharing your most vulnerable thoughts with her while she either eye-rolls it or sighs it off and says, “This is ridiculous.”

That, my friend, is emotional and verbal abuse!

12. Blame game

She will blame you unnecessarily, and everything that makes you feel wrong is your fault, even her own. All the blaming can make you feel frustrated, demoralized, and angry. Even if it was not your fault, you might apologize.

How To Deal With An Abusive Wife

Go through all the signs of an abusive wife that we have listed above and assess your situation. Here is a small activity to help you do just that.

Try to answer these questions with a yes or a no:

  • Does she yell at me?
  • Does she neglect me often?
  • Am I being emotionally manipulated?
  • Is my wife controlling and intimidating?
  • Does she humiliate me in public?

If your answer is mostly “yes,” you may be dealing with an abusive wife.

Now, let us have a look at some ways to deal with such a spouse:

1. Getting out of the denial

As highlighted above, once you understand the situation and determine that you are a victim of wife abuse:

Do not hide from it. Do not deny it.

Men often tend to ignore the opinions of friends because friends can easily recognize signs of abuse in your relationship. Avoid shrugging now!

2. Journaling and vocalizing

Keep a record of all situations where you find that she is abusive towards you.

Speak with her and create some boundaries on how you want to be treated in this relationship. Tell her how her behavior makes you feel. Maintaining healthy communication and building bridges are important steps in dealing with emotional abuse. But what if she denies and shifts the blame? Well, it only proves that she needs professional counseling.

3. Counseling and asking for help

Before deciding whether to remain or quit your relationship, it is wise to seek help from an experienced counselor.

You will be surprised to find that sometimes seeking help from family or friends will give you the strength to adapt to your situation. Don’t avoid those who really care about you.

4. Seeking legal help

If things get out of control, there is absolutely no need to worry about seeking legal help, filing a complaint, and divorcing. This is your life, and your mental health is a top priority.

5. Undergoing therapy and healing

Abusive relationships can leave you scarred to the point that you may be afraid of building a new relationship. You may even stop trusting people, which may damage you on the professional front. Therefore, you must sign up for therapy to heal. It can help you emotionally and guide you towards a better life.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the causes of an abusive wife?

The abusive nature of your wife can run much deeper than you think. A research study states that some of the reasons your partner is abusive can be childhood abuse or they have seen their parents fight too often (4).

2. What type of abuse is lying?

Lying is a form of original covert abuse used by the abuser to gain control over the victim slyly. In relationships, lying can manifest in many forms, from half-truths and black lies to broken promises and denials. Essentially, the abuser uses lying as a tool to manipulate their partner.

3. What is the gray rock method?

The gray rock method helps deal with difficult people or those who try to manipulate you. It involves not displaying intense emotions or engaging in interesting conversations with them. Instead, you respond with uninterested remarks, discouraging their focus and manipulation.

4. What is the difference between mental and emotional abuse?

Mental abuse refers to actions that harm your mind and make you feel bad, such as manipulation, constant criticism, or undermining your self-confidence. Emotional abuse involves actions that cause you emotional pain, such as blaming, humiliating, embarrassing, or withholding affection, which can leave you feeling deeply upset or hurt.

Men are also subjected to verbal and emotional abuse by their spouses, which is an issue that should be addressed. Some clear signs of an abusive wife are that she excessively intimidates you, is disrespectful, neglects you, always yells at you, or is overly controlling. If you think you are living with an abusive partner and the circumstances are out of your control, don’t be afraid to take action. Seeking help from an experienced counselor, undergoing therapy, and maintaining a journal can help you overcome this situation.

Infographic: Why Men Usually Do Not Leave Abusive Relationships?

The events of men being abused by their wives make fewer headlines than those of the opposite sex. However, that does not make it a minor issue, and men suffer the consequences equally. The infographic below explains why it may be difficult for men to leave an abusive relationship.

why is it difficult for men to come out of an abusive relationship (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Abuse may come from the wife in the form of silent treatment, intimidation, criticism, or neglect.
  • Identify the signs of gaslighting, blame-game, or public humiliation before it affects your mental health.
  • Counseling and other therapy may help you heal but do not hesitate to seek legal help if things go out of control.

Are you worried your wife is toxic? Watch this video to learn 9 signs that could indicate your wife is toxic. Get the help you need to make your marriage healthier.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Suzanne C. Swan, et al.; A Review of Research on Women’s Use of Violence With Male Intimate Partners; Violence and Victims (2010).
2. Sanjay Deshpande; Sociocultural and Legal Aspects of Violence Against Men; Journal of Psychosexual Health (2019).
3. RaMon B. Younger; The Effects of Domestic Violence: The Male Victims Perspective; School of Graduate Studies, East Tennessee State University
4. Rosenbaum, A. & O’Leary, K. D.; Marital violence: Characteristics of abusive couples. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1981).
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