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How to Deal with Verbal Abuse in a Relationship


What Is Verbal Abuse?

Abuse is a ruthless and cruel treatment. Now we are talking about verbal abuse, which is accompanied by crying, screaming, and disagreements. But it is hidden, and it cannot be easily recognized.

It is called this way because it cannot really be proven or shown to anyone to be true, but it’s far from being harmless, in fact, it is on par with physical abuse. Unfortunately, domestic verbal abuse is quite common. Let’s dive deeper into the question of “what is considered verbal abuse?”

how to recognize verbal abuse

Scientists have discovered a connection between chronic anxiety and long-term verbal abuse experienced by patients suffering from this mental disorder. The stress and experiences, accumulating day after day and year after year, sooner or later inevitably lead to physical disorders, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, emotional trauma, and even PTSD.

As the well-known psychologist Devon McDermott, who specializes in interpersonal relationships and trauma, writes that verbal abuse is intermittently recurring intercourse with another person, it is undesirable for the victim and harms the victim’s emotional or mental health. Often victims are exposed to this kind of violence from seemingly closest people, for example, family members, friends, mentors, parents or partners in personal relationships. Verbal abuse is not as harmless as you might have thought before: a disrespectful attitude towards someone, a violent disagreement with them and constant insults can quite negatively affect one’s health.

These long-term issues, low self-esteem anxiety, and depression can (and most often will) cause physical pain, discomfort and etc. The fact that it’s harder to evaluate emotional trauma than physical trauma doesn’t mean that the latter is more damaging. Yes, you understood everything correctly, a cycle of verbal abuse is one of the worst things, if not the worst.

What Is Verbal Abuse In a Relationship?

There are lots of types of verbal abuse, but in short, it is the repeated and/or sudden use of oral or written language, the content of which is humiliating and/or offensive in order to ruin self-confidence and the sense of the dignity of the victim. And its impact is by no means short-term or insignificant - on the contrary, it can lead to severe and prolonged psychological trauma. Moreover, unlike the effects of physical violence, this injury is not visible to the naked eye, nevertheless, it affects the psyche and personality of the victim. Since in many cases the victim of verbal violence is in a subordinate position in relation to the person who exercises it, the victim often cannot give a worthy response, even when their self-esteem is attacked. This can lead to loss of motivation, weakening of concentration, stress, depression and many other mental disorders.

verbal abuse in a relationshipIt is not necessary to make a distinction between verbal and emotional abuse, it’s the same thing, since verbal violence inevitably affects the victim on the emotional level, destroying their self-esteem and confidence. And these are just the short-term effects of verbal violence. In the long run, this type of violence, especially when the victim began their exposure to the abuser in early childhood, can lead to many health problems.

What are these effects of verbal abuse? Let’s list them right now.

Long-Term Effects of Verbal and Emotional Abuse

  • Thinking about one’s own shortcomings
  • Lowered self-esteem and lack of enthusiasm
  • Decision-making problems
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • A migraine
  • Chronic pain
  • Digestive problems
  • Food allergies
  • Suicidal thoughts

So, if you notice that someone you care about starts acting this way, and the behavior does not change for the better, consider whether or not they could be victims of verbal abuse, and, if it is so, try to help them cope with the current situation.

Is Verbal Abuse a Crime?

Short answer – no, it is unlikely that your offender will go to jail or pay any fine. Long answer – it depends on various factors and circumstances. It depends on the country in which you live, there are different laws and regulations that affect family relationships. It also depends on your situation, for example, whether there are any other signs of abuse, perhaps physical ones, or any other signs that can be proven. However, if after your split, a partner continues to follow and stalk you, sending offensive messages, threatening you with violence, then you should not just ignore it, all of these things can be shown to police, and a restraining order can be placed on your ex-partner.

How to stop verbal abuse? Don’t give up in a situation like that, and if you feel like your partner deserves revenge, especially if it is well deserved, then collect all the messages that they've sent you, report them to police, show all the needed signs and evidence that will point to their involvement in this, and justice will definitely be served. You have to understand that no one will be able to solve the case by your words alone, they cannot prove anything.

One thing remains certain, how to respond to verbal abuse? Fight it, seek help!

Signs of Verbal Abuse

How to recognize verbal abuse?

1. They deprive you of independence

Verbal abuse and attempts to manipulate you can start small. At first, it may not even seem strange to you that your loved one is jealous of your friends and relatives, but if it comes to the fact that they begin to forbid you to go somewhere without them, except for work, you should do a step back and take a critical look at this whole situation.

According to the National Violence Prevention Hotline, spouses who are prone to verbal violence often try to strictly control where you go and who you meet. Moreover, they may try to forbid you to leave the house in certain circumstances and even indicate what you can or shouldn't wear when you go outside. A partner who is so strongly obsessed with control over their “second half” may try to limit their freedom in other matters, for example, canceling decisions they have already made or controlling all of their expenses. A joint family budget or bank deposit is normal, but a loved one does not have to make all financial decisions for you or take personal money away from you.

2. They intimidate you or threaten you

Unfortunately, the clearest of signs of verbal and emotional abuse is also the most dangerous. Threats and attempts at intimidation by a loved one - something that cannot be ignored. This is unacceptable in any relationship. In healthy and proper personal relationships, you will never find yourself in a situation in which you feel neither love nor safety from a loved one. Even silent intimidation can be a form of verbal abuse. The fact is that body language is a very important part of communication between people and threatening or frightening body language is a loud alarm indicating that something is wrong with this person, and if this relationship is of close nature, then it’s definitely time to do something about it.

If a “loved one” is watching you or stalking you, their behavior, posture, and glance scares you, they do not allow you to leave the house alone, or, for example, in attacks of anger, they throw away your things or spoil them in any other way, then you should ask for help from people you trust – and do that immediately.

3. They make you do what you do not want to do

Hard conviction and inclination of a loved one to actions that they do not like is one of the types of verbal abuse that is not so easy to recognize at first glance. After all, often a partner manages to convince us that they do not put pressure on us out of the blue at all - that you must give in to them because you owe them something. At least the fact that they date you! If this is so, remember that first of all, you owe everything to yourself, and your own safety should come first. If your loved one puts pressure on you, trying to force you to make an unacceptable choice for you, or, for example, force you to have sex with them when you don’t feel like it, know that this is wrong. They should not force you to do anything that makes you feel emotionally or physically uncomfortable.

4. They are "gaslighting" you

Gaslighting is a very dangerous form of manipulating the consciousness, through which the victim is forced to doubt their own mental health and sanity of reasoning.how to stop verbal abuse If your partner gaslights you, they may begin to lie to your face, say that you remember the words they've said incorrectly, or, for example, say that you simply "think" that everything was exactly as you say. This exhausting and dangerous tactics of manipulation of consciousness begin with a small, but over time it gains momentum, starting to pose a real threat, even if at first it is imperceptible.

We all sometimes get the feeling that we make mistakes, or, let's say, we are doing everything “wrong” ... however, if you have started to constantly doubt yourself because your loved one questions your adequacy of a point of view, it is quite possible that this is because you have become a victim of gaslighting. Get the opinion of someone you trust about the situation and remind yourself that you just can't be wrong all the time.

5. They make you feel useless

The aggressive style of speech and insults are the most visible and obvious ways to perform verbal abuse, but these are not the only ways that people close to us can influence our way of thinking and self-esteem. A partner who is prone to verbal abuse and enjoys the suffering of others may be not aware of it, they may perceive their actions in some way that justifies them, yet it doesn’t mean that they are justified.

How to Deal with Verbal Abuse in a Relationship

How do you start dealing with verbal abuse? Psychologists are convinced that it is impossible to build a normal family with a tyrant. And you cannot fix it. A tyrant can only be corrected if they want to. And this is unlikely to happen. After all, to work on yourself is hard and not always pleasant. Therefore, it is better to stay away from emotional “rapists.” Otherwise, they will destroy you as a person. You will no longer trust your feelings and thoughts, turn into a being crushed by fear and self-loathing and will be completely dependent on your “savior.”

  • But, if you are not ready to leave, try to return at least a part of your identity.
  • Find a job, call old friends, visit relatives, remember a forgotten hobby, talk to a psychologist. Get yourself back together.
  • Stop trying to humiliate yourself. Be polite, but fight back if rationality has left a dialogue.
  • Do not agree with a partner just like that. Your point of view also has a right to exist.
  • Be bold. A tyrant, of course, does not like your desire to escape from their oppression. But you have to defend yourself. Otherwise, your personality and desire to live life will be finally crushed.
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