top of page

Andrea Anderson Polk’s Blog

Clinically Practiced, Biblically Informed

  • Writer's pictureAndrea Anderson Polk

A Story of Emotional and Verbal Abuse

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

photo of a man sitting on a couch and feeling sad because he is experiencing emotional and verbal abuse in his relationship with a loved one.

In a previous post we looked at what characterizes an abusive relationship and how to recognize if you are in one. If you haven't read it, click the link above and take a few minutes to read it before you continue.

The following is a story that illustrates emotional and verbal abuse.

Thomas was given a drum set as a Christmas gift from his close friend Dave, who knew Thomas had played in college and hoped to encourage him to pursue his long-lost musical talent that work pressures had displaced. Thomas also enjoyed spending time with his family when he was not working.

Dave admired how Thomas prioritized his wife and family; they were his pride and joy. Dave knew Thomas tends to put the needs of others above his own and that he was too busy with work to purchase the drums himself.

Upon receiving the drums, Thomas was hesitant and a bit anxious to tell his wife that he was going to take lessons at the local community center after seeing the class advertised in the newspaper.

Once he mustered up the courage to tell her, he left the conversation feeling afraid and guilty for pursuing something he was passionate about outside of his work and family. Thomas’s wife criticized him repeatedly: “You are a terrible father for choosing to take lessons for your silly drums over spending time with your own children.” “You are going to damage your children because you are going to make them feel abandoned each time you go to your lesson.” “You don’t really want to spend time with our children or you wouldn’t play the drums.” “You are trying to avoid the responsibility of being a parent.” “I am like a single parent in this family, and you are like another child: selfish and irresponsible.”

Rather than celebrate his opportunity to pursue a personal passion and encourage him, despite his fears, she became passive-aggressive and did not speak to Thomas. She slept in another room and avoided him for long periods.

Although Thomas pursued his drum lessons, she repeatedly told him he was neglecting his children and her when he played the drums. He began seeking counseling because he felt disoriented and recognized that this painful pattern of constant criticism of him as a father and husband had manifested in other ways for a long time in his marriage. The verbal and emotional abuse had been invisible to him.

An abusive relationship slowly erodes your sense of self and thwarts your purpose.

As a counselor, I have worked with many individuals and couples where abuse is present in the relationship. At times, abusers are unlikely to seek counseling because they may not want to believe that anything is wrong with them. If they seek counseling, following through with counseling is also difficult for these individuals because they can become defensive and question the counsel they are given by therapists who want to help.

I have found that these individuals become extremely upset and disappointed when they are not given the answers or the solutions they seek, or the special treatment they deeply believe they deserve. For this reason, it has been my experience that they tend to jump from counselor to counselor, hoping the next advice from a counselor will align with their behavior.

Based on my experience, it is more often for other symptoms such as substance abuse, infidelity, a work crisis, depression, or anxiety when they seek counseling. The problem occurs in the relationship when the person is unwilling to be accountable for their abusive behavior and do the necessary work to change their actions.

To repair such a relationship, it is essential that a person in an abusive relationship breaks the silence of their suffering and seeks help. The abusive person must be equally willing to pursue help and do the work necessary to overcome their toxic behavior patterns, so they do not continue to hurt their spouse or friend.

In the next post, I’ll help you understand people who abuse others by taking a deeper look into their heart and struggles to help you navigate the healing process.

23 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Sign up here to receive blog posts in your email inbox each week

Thanks for submitting!


Andrea Anderson Polk is a licensed professional counselor, nationally certified, registered clinical supervisor, and certified professional coach. She has a private practice in Northern Virginia with nearly 20 years of clinical experience helping hundreds of clients on their healing journey.

She is driven by a deep calling to help ambitious women of faith experience healing and breakthrough so they can live each day with peace and purpose. 

Andrea believes healing happens through relationship. The wounds that occur in a relationship must be healed in a relationship. Andrea invites you into a life-altering relationship.

Work with Andrea one-one- by contacting her here.


Andrea has spent her career studying the human experience and has developed a fascinating analogy that compares cuckoo birds, nature’s master manipulator and imposter, to situations and relationships that leave us feeling drained, confused, lost, and empty. Her new book, The Cuckoo Syndrome, helps us fend off the cuckoos, the unhealthy relationships, toxic thinking, and self-sabotaging behaviors in our life that never truly satisfy the deep longings of our souls and the desires of our hearts. 

Andrea’s clinically proven, innovative method helps us recover the lost pieces of ourselves, discover meaning in suffering, and transform our pain into purpose by teaching us to uncover the truth of who we are and who God is so we can be healed and live free. 

Purchase the book Andrea’s clients call “a life-changing breakthrough” for yourself and the people you care about today.

Hard-Cover-and-Back-Book-Mockup (3).png



If you….

Feel internal pressure to do all things well. 

Tend to neglect your needs to please others and search for validation.

Continually attract toxic or one-sided relationships leaving you drained. 

Want to build a life that is unashamedly true to who you are and what you want.


Then…this is the time to reclaim your JOY, ENERGY, AND TIME so you can live each day with peace and purpose!


Curious to know how?

bottom of page