Verbal and emotional abuse take many forms. Some forms of abuse are more overt and immediately noticeable, and other forms of abuse are subtle and masked.
Verbal and emotional abuse typically work hand in hand together. IF someone is emotionally abusive towards you, chances are they are also verbally abusive towards you.
Both are highly toxic to the recipient and can lead to all sorts of mental and emotional problems including depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), low self-esteem, low self-worth, physical ailments and the questioning of one’s own reality and perceptions.
What is verbally abusive behavior?
Verbally abusive behavior is defined as verbal tactics designed to undermine the confidence, self-worth and self-esteem in the victim. Abuse in any form is always about the abuser establishing power and control over another. Verbal abuse therefore is a tactic used by the abuser to create a sense of dominance over the victim, and is mainly rooted in a deep sense of insecurity and inferiority by the abuser.
Verbally abusive behavior can be described as:
- Put downs, cutting remarks and constant criticism
- Hurtful, cutting comments masked by sarcasm or presented as a joke
- Name calling
- Yelling or raging against the victim
- Blaming and false accusations
- Withholding – withholding information and refusing to share feelings and thoughts
- Countering – arguing, or dismissing the victim’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions
- Blame shifting – the abuser never takes responsibility for their actions, and shifts the blame onto the victim
- Blocking – the abuser controls what topics can be discussed
- Trivializing – the abuser trivializes what the victim thinks, feels or wants to do
- Denial – the abuser outright denies the victim’s perceptions of an event or conversation
- Rewriting history – the abuser fabricates or makes up different details of an event or a conversation that differ from the victim’s recollection
- Character assasination – personal attacks that degrade the victim’s character
Verbal abuse ultimately erodes the victim of a sense of self-confidence, self-worth and their perception of reality. Verbal abuse will eventually cause severe psychological problems, if prolonged and accepted by the victim.
What is emotionally abusive behavior?
Emotional abuse, also called psychological abuse, is designed to manipulate the victim’s emotions. Emotional abuse can be a matter of systematic brainwashing and can have just as devastating an effect on the victim’s sense of well-being as verbal abuse can. Similarly, emotional abuse is designed to control and have power over the victim. Emotional abuse can overlap with forms of verbal abuse.
Emotionally abusive behavior can be described as:
- Threats and emotional blackmailing
- Exertion of control over the victim in any way
- Indirect violence intended to intimidate the victim
- Verbal assaults
- The abuser is never wrong – the abuser shifts the blame to the victim
- When confronted, the abuser launches a verbal attack on the victim
- The abuser shows no empathy for the victim’s hurt feelings
- The abuser never apologizes for their poor behavior and treatment
- The abuser uses forms of mental punishment such as the silent treatment, or withdrawal of affection, love and sex when they are displeased or confronted
- Love-bombing or promises of change to make the victim forget the abuse
- Isolation of the victim, and making the victim fully dependent on their abuser
- Lack of reasoning – the abuser is typically unreasonable and makes unreasonable demands of their victim
- Creating a sense of fear in the victim
- Extreme mistrust and jealousy
Verbal and emotional abuse should never be acceptable in a relationship.
If you find that you are a victim of verbal or emotional abuse, rather than setting boundaries and trying to make the relationship work, my advice is to get out of the relationship.
Abusers rarely change and abuse statistically escalates over time, especially when the abuser thinks that you are theirs and often after a marriage has already occurred. Physical violence is always preceded by emotional and verbal abuse.
The more prolonged the abuse is, the greater your own mental and emotional suffering will be. However, never blame yourself for the abuse you have endured. It is always a matter of the abuser being the problem.
And remember that abuse is always about power and control over the victim. It is not love. So no matter how much you think you love the person, they are manipulating you and what they are giving you is a false sense of love.
Ultimately, abusers are deeply insecure, and therefore, they have a need to establish dominance over another to feel better about themselves. They relish in the power that they have over their victim’s sense of self-worth.
So, if you have found yourself in such a relationship, get out and save yourself from further damage. It will only get worse over time.
Here’s to healing and recovery from verbal and emotional abuse, which I will cover next, and here’s to your happiness!