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How to Handle Verbal Abuse

Updated on October 11, 2012

Children and Adults are Victims of Verbal Abuse

Children are forever scarred by verbal abuse
Children are forever scarred by verbal abuse | Source

Verbal Abuse Has Deep Emotional Effects

Verbal abuse affects children and adults alike. The affects of verbal abuse are not readily seen. The scars one bears from being mistreated lie deep within the hurting soul of the person who is being abused. They often suffer in silence, but there is hope. With self awareness, therapy, and support the pattern of abuse can be broken and new healthier relationships can be established.

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes. Some are healthy and some are not. Some are easily recognizable as abusive and some are not. Verbal abuse in relaionships is not recognized by physical bruises or noticeable injuries.

Yet verbal abuse hurts deeply. The feelings of being in such a relationship can easily overwhelm an adult or a child. Verbal abuse against children often causes severe emotional damage to their self esteem. They may have trouble in future relationships with trust issues and establishing healthy bonds.

This can affect them socially, academically, and occupationally forever. People who are verbally abused are at risk for anxiety and depression. Sometimes the effects can be debilitating. A person may doubt their own decisions, feel helpless, hopeless, worthless, and undeserving. These psychological effects can impact the health and well being of the victim of abuse.

There is no difference in the terms verbal abuse, emotional abuse, or mental abuse.

People are sometimes unaware that they are verbally abusive. But if you:

  • call people names
  • belittle others
  • swear at people
  • say insulting things
  • criticize
  • say negative comments about people to other people when you know they hear you
  • threaten someone with abandonment
  • reject or exclude the person
  • make someone feel unwanted
  • threatening someone physically
  • blaming that person
  • making that person a scapegoat
  • being sarcastic to that person

You might be a victim of verbal abuse if:

  • You feel put down
  • You notice the person switches from being charming to being angry, with no warning.
  • You are walking on eggshells, trying not to set the person off
  • You feel tense, angry, upset, sad, drained,depressed.
  • You feel like your relationship with this person is somewhat out of control.
  • You are constantly critized.
  • No matter what you do,the person complains.
  • You are never able to satisfy the person.
  • The other person expects you to know what they are thinking
  • The other person expects you to put their needs ahead of your own
  • The other person twists things around so no matter what, it is your fault.
  • You feel misunderstood
  • You feel like there is no logical way to discuss and resolve the issues with the other person.
  • The other person takes much of what you say, as a personal attack on them, no matter how nonthreatening you say things, even though you are not criticizing them in any way.
  • The person makes you feel inadequate, incapable, and bad about yourself
  • The other person undermines you in front of other people.
  • The other person tries to control you in different ways.
  • The other person acts nice, after acting badly to you, without apologizing for their behavior.
  • You make excuses for the other person.
  • You feel like you can not tell anyone what you are going through.
  • You feel hopeless about the situation

Verbal Abuse in Relationships

Verbal Abuse affects self esteem and so much more.
Verbal Abuse affects self esteem and so much more. | Source

Are You in a Verbally Abusive Relationship?

After looking at these lists, you may find that you are in a verbally abusive relationship. The wonderful news about this new awareness is that you are on your way to living a life you want to live. You can recreate your story.You can be happy.You can be fulfilled.You can love yourself and you can be have people in your life that will value you.

The truth about verbally abusive relationships -

It is important to understand the dynamics of your relationship with the person who is verbally abusing you.

Abuse can be defined as any behavior that attempts to control and make someone else submissive by using tactics such as humiliation and fear. Verbal abuse comes in the form of incessant criticism, intimidation, refusal to please someone else, and making it difficult for someone else to please them, manipulation, insults, belittling, and putting someone down.

The effects of verbal abuse can erode someone else’s feeling of self worth, their ego, and their self perceptions. A person’s self esteem is damaged and can lead them to feeling invalidated, and distrustful of their own emotions, experiences, and viewpoints. Abuse victims often lose their sense of self. Their inner feelings of personal value are degraded, and the scars a verbally abused person wears are never seen by others.

Power and Control Wheel

Are you a victim of verbal abuse?
Are you a victim of verbal abuse? | Source

Patterns of Verbal Abuse

There are generally 3 patterns of verbal abuse:

  • attacking - name calling, blaming, accusations, threatening, judging, making the relationship unequal, belittling, controlling.
  • denying - failure to take responsibility for their actions,refusal to listen or communicate,.emotionally withdrawing to punish, silent treatment, lacking acknowledgement of someone else’s feelings.
  • devaluing - making the other person feel as though their perceptions are faulty, and their emotions are undeserving of being acknowledged. Making less of the other person, that they are inconsequential, unimportant, and discounting their points.

The recipients of verbal abuse will usually find themselves in other abusive relationships. If a parent or other signicant person verbally abused a child, that child will probably grow up finding a partner who will verbally abuse them. Why is this? Often victims of abuse have not learned how to validate their own perceptions, set their own standards, or develop points of view.

The feelings of being controlled and put down, actually feel comfortable. Even though this is counter productive and even self destructive, they have not learned the necessary defenses to protect themselves. We all seek what we know, even if it is unhealthy. Abused people often feel powerless, angry, fearful, and are hurt.

Abusers, in contrast, look for people who feel helpless, unworthy, and have poor self perceptions. In this way the abuser can feel more in control, more secure, and don’t have to deal with their own unresolved feelings.

We have relationships with others and let them treat us, much as we expected to be treated. If we don’t value ourselves, how can we find someone who will value us?

Relationships have particular patterns where each partner, or family member has a role to fulfill. In dysfunctional families, these roles may be unhealthy ones. It is hard to have your eyes wide open and be completely self aware in relationships, given the fact that our behaviors often are modeled from the time we are very young.

But you can still help yourself become more aware of your situations. Knowing you are, how you behave in your relationships, how you let others control and define you, and understanding your past will help you get out of bad relationships and avoid being abused.

Think about how you think about yourself, and how you truly feel about yourself. As you learn to think more highly of yourself, you will have healthier relationships with others.

Healthy Relationships

Learning to love yourself and having a healthy relationship will break the pattern of verbal abuse.
Learning to love yourself and having a healthy relationship will break the pattern of verbal abuse. | Source

What Is a Healthy Relationship?

What does a healthy relationship look like?

  • Getting emotional support
  • Being heard
  • Being respected
  • Being treated with politeness and courtesy
  • Having your feelings acknowledged
  • Being apologized to
  • Having the right to your own opinion, especially when it is different from the other person’s
  • To not be mistreated.
  • Not being blamed or accused, criticized, or judged.
  • Having the things you do, valued.
  • Being encouraged.
  • Not being subjected to someone else’s fits of rage.
  • Not being called names, or being put down.
  • To be asked to do something, instead of ordered.
  • To not be threatened, physically or emotionally.
  • To be valued as a person.
  • A healthy relationship will nurture you.

When someone is intentionally and repeatedlyhurt by another, they may be suffering from verbal abuse. Sometimes people will get into arguments with another person, and say something that is hurtful. This is not necessarily abuse. It is misdirected anger.

When destructive words are habitually part of a relationship, it is abusive behavior. Verbally abusive relationships involve one person undermining the other person by attacking their self esteem, manipulation, and devaluing the other person.

Sometimes verbal abuse is made in direct and insulting comments. Sometimes it comes out in the form of sarcasm, nasty looks, grimaces, cold shoulders, rejection, slamming doors, sighs, and to be uncooperative. These are just a few of the many tactics abusive people use on their victims.

You Deserve to Be Treated Right

Often, people who are verbally abused blame themselves. They think they are the problem, and buy into the devaluation and lack of self worth that is put upon them.Verbal abuse can break someone’s spirit.

You deserve to be in a healthy relationship. You deserve to be appreciated and appreciate yourself. Therapy is a very helpful way for you to become self aware so that you stop putting yourself in abusive situations.
If you are an abusive person, you can help yourself through therapy too. We bond with people, expecting they will love and care about us, that they will respect how we feel.
But sometimes those we chose, don’t care if we are hurt, or inflict emotional pain on us, in order to strike at us. We feel betrayed, when our partner lacks compassion for us. You don’t have to accept their abuse. You can stand up for yourself, you don’t have to allow yourself to be treated that way.

You just have to take the first of many healthy steps that are in your best interest to be treated right. Believe in yourself. Break the patterns that brought you to being treated unjustly. Love yourself and your world will surely improve. Re-evaluate your relationships and seek help so that things will improve.


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    • FirstStepsFitness profile image

      FirstStepsFitness 2 years ago

      Very well written Hub ! This is such an important topic to share . Some are not familiar with the scope of abuse because physical violence seems to be getting so much publicity but emotional is just as damaging . Thank you for sharing :)

    • bumbershoot profile image

      bumbershoot 4 years ago

      Thanks for this hub - it's great. It seems that the dynamic in verbally abusive relationships changes when it's outside of a romantic relationship. I would never tolerate abuse of any kind in a romantic relationship - but how does one handle it in a sibling? Family isn't a tie that can be broken so easily. If someone refuses to accept their behavior as abusive and you'd rather not cut someone out of your life, how do you deal with verbal and emotional abuse?

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      Hi Miss Mimi, It is amazing how long it sometimes takes us to recognize verbally abusive people, but when we do, it can make all the difference, and so awareness is so very important. Thanks for sharing your experiences and for your kind comments. All the best to you.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      Hi Spy, The best defense against a verbally abusive person is to see them coming. Awareness is everything, and I hope this article helped you see them coming. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Thank you very much for this extremely important information. I have saved it as important material to always keep in mind. God Bless You.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Sue, I am so sorry you were verbally abused. It takes courage to walk away. But better yet, the best revenge is to live a good life. I hope you appreciate the very special person you are everyday, so that the memories of being verbally abused can't hurt you anymore, and you won't allow anyone else to ever do that to you again. You deserve better. Thanks for voting my hub up and awesome and for sharing your story. All the best

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi toknowinfo

      I was verbally abused growing up. I never thought I deserved it. If I ran in to one of the bullies now, I would ask them why did they do it. My mom said because they knew it upset me. Yes, it did! Now, I would walk way.

      Voted up and awesome.

      Take care :)

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Mary, Thanks for reading and commenting. Verbal abuse is also tricky because the victim doesn't always realize they are being mistreated.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Tattoo, I am glad you liked the positive side of people I showed. In hubs, as in life we need balance. Thanks for commenting.

    • Miss Mimi profile image

      Miss Mimi 5 years ago from On the road again

      Thanks for sharing. I had a co-worker and friend who was very verbally abusive. Comparing her unpredictable bullying with the loving, supportive and positive relationships I have with many other friends and with my husband, I eventually recognised what she was doing to all of her co-workers as abuse and politely let her slip out of my life. It feels so difficult and confusing to end any abusive relationship, thanks for sharing this helpful and positive advice. Voted up for sure!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      i have a co-worker who always abuse us verbally. those list of things you've written fits her and acting like a queen but worse, saying all those mean and sarcastic things to others

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Midget, Thanks for sharing my hub. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Uban, It is very important to see the toxic people in our lives and clear them out, so that we are surrounded by loving and supportive people.

    • Mary Merriment profile image

      Mary Merriment 5 years ago from Boise area, Idaho

      Abuse comes happens on many levels. Verbal abuse is always a tricky one, because people don't realize that even though emotional pain can not leave visible wounds, the pain is still very real and very damaging. Thank you on your article to raise awareness in this matter.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 5 years ago from Lagos

      At one stage or the other in anyone's life, abuse in any form must surely come so the best way to cope is to cut ties with whoever is the projector of such abuse. Great piece

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Tom, Glad to see you, my friend. It is terrible to be in a relationship where you are verbally abused. I am glad you are no longer having to deal with that, and I hope this info will help well prepare you in any future relationships. You deserve the best and to be treated with kindness, not cruelty. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and only good things.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend great hub and great and useful information within it. I was stuck in a verbally abusive relationship once wish i had this information.

      Vote up and more !!!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Mh, Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

    • TattooKitty profile image

      TattooKitty 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I really love your section on healthy relationships. People often tend to focus so much upon what negatives in a relationship that the traits of a positive relationship are often left by the wayside. Glad that showed both sides of the coin!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Was just thinking about various forms of injustice and verbal abuse is indeed one of them! Thanks for sharing your insight on verbal abuse. I share this as well!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing this useful information. Popularity saved me.