verbal abuse: How to spot it and what to do

11 signs of verbal abuse: How to spot it and what to do

Verbal abuse is the act of forcefully insulting, use of harsh words, criticizing, or embarrassing another person. It is accompanied by underlying anger and hostility. It is aimed to hurt the self-emotions of the other person and create negative emotions in them. Some people use verbal abuse to control or manipulate others.

Verbal abuse is also referred to as verbal attack or verbal assault. 

When verbal abuse happens within a family or relationship, the abuser seeks to shrink or altogether remove positive feelings of well being from the victim. Such feelings include happiness, confidence, and high self-esteem, which the abuser views as a threat or as a hindrance to their manipulative habits. 

In schools, verbal abuse is common, referred to as bullying, and is frequently accompanied by physical violence. The abuser may, in some instances, have low self-esteem and their wish is to bring the victim to their level. Verbal abuse will also crop up when an individual is under stress or experiencing physical discomfort. 

Have you been feeling emotionally drained and tired and cannot pinpoint what the cause is? Evaluate the nature of your relationships, be it, family, with your partner, or any social environment. Abuse can be in several forms, not only physical. It can also manifest as verbal. 

Difference Between a Normal Argument and Verbal Abuse

Disagreements happen, especially about basic issues, within different social settings, and it’s all part of being human. However, verbal abuse is not normal. 

Disagreements do not result in name-calling, however, it is people try to listen to the other person’s opinion, which is not the case in verbal abuse. The principal purpose is to humiliate the other victim. 

Here are the 11 signs of verbal abuse

1. Name-calling is a sign of verbal abuse

Be it in a romantic relationship, parent-child relationship, or at school, the abuser uses words to belittle the victim and sometimes include pet names to disguise the negative, insulting worlds. For example:

  • You cannot understand this, sweetie, because you are just so stupid. 
  • Darling, this is not for fools like you. 

2. The condescending attitude towards you

The abuser will use scornful, sarcastic, and shame-instilling words to humiliate and downgrade you. For example:

  • I will break it down to your level, darling, that you may understand what I’m saying. 
  • University education is not for you, but people with brains. 

3. Constant negative criticism is a signs of verbal abuse

Positive criticism is healthy. However, in a verbally abusive relationship, the abuser will constantly hurl insensitive negative criticism in their attempt to erode your self-esteem. For example: 

  • You messed this again! Can’t you do anything right?

4. Demeaning Remarks

The abuser’s goal is to erode your self-esteem and confidence. They want you to hate yourself by instilling a feeling of shame and humiliation. 

For Example:

  • No one wanted you before I came into your life. No one else will like you.

6. Manipulation

The abuser wants to control you in terms of how you feel about yourself and make you do things outside of your will. Manipulation is disguised, and the victim succumbs to it unknowingly.

For example:

  • Do this for me if you really love me. 

7. Blame game is also a signs of verbal abuse

Although sometimes we are at fault for some things, the verbally abusive person will continuously blame you for everything, including his/her behavior. For example:

  • Honey, why do you always make me shout at you?
  • You are the cause of all these mistakes. 

8. Unjustified accusations

A verbal accuser will frequently accuse you of things that are not true. Sometimes, they are the ones guilty of such behavior. These constant accusations can make you question your behavior, and if this happens for a while, it can make you paranoid. 

For example:

  • Why did that man look at you like that? You must be having an affair with him. 

9. Gaslighting

The abuser will instill a sense of doubt in the victim to make them question their own sanity, memory, and reality. Gaslighting makes the victim withdraw, feel depressed, and get defensive when verbally attacked by the abuser. 

10. Constant threats

An abuser will use threats on you to make you comply with their unrealistic demands. If you do not relent to their needs, the abuser will tend to withdraw by ignoring you or not wanting to be in the same room with you. 

They also will not listen to your side of the story. 

For example: If you do not do it for me, I will throw your belongings out of this house. 

11. Irresolvable arguments

In a normal argument, people will often come to a reasonable conclusion or find common ground. A verbally abusive person will tend to bring up the same argument over and over again without relenting. 

In a relationship, you may have given your stand about some issues. For example, you don’t want to lose any more weight, but your partner will keep asking you to take weight-loss diets and even call you fat and unattractive. 

What to do in case you are verbally abused

Verbal abuse may not be too obvious to notice immediately. Abusers will even accuse you of being too sensitive and not having a sense of humor.

Over time, verbal abuse takes a significant toll on the victim, and they lose their self-esteem and well being. The victim tends to question their existence and may view themselves as worthless, inadequate, and foolish. However, if you are a victim of verbal abuse, do not yield to these negative emotions as there is help for you. With the right support, you can handle and overcome the abuse. 

Here are helpful tips on how to handle verbal abuse.

  • Don’t blame yourself. Know that it is not your fault for the verbal abuse. 
  • Set boundaries. Reasoning with a verbally abusive person may be pointless. Let the person know you are no longer interested in unhealthy arguments. 
  • Limit your relationship with the abuser. Limit the time you spend with the abuser. If you can’t avoid the person, try to be always in a public place with them instead of being alone with the abuser.  
  • Cut ties completely. If the situation doesn’t get any better, make the difficult decision and save your life. Cut ties with the person. 

If you live together or have children with them, it may be complicated, and you may want to involve a counselor or a support group. Their advice will help you see things from a different perspective.