Verbal abuse is touched on in the article “10 Red Flags of an Abusive Relationship.” For this article we hope to expand on that topic. One study found that 65% of the participants were victims of verbal abuse at some point in their life. Verbal abuse is one of the first forms of abuse within a relationship. It is important to understand that verbal abuse doesn’t stop at being told you are worthless or stupid. Some forms of verbal abuse can be sneaky, leaving the victim wondering if something really happened or if they are just overreacting. This list, from Psych2Go, hopes to shed some light on some of the more common forms of verbal abuse.
This form of abuse isn’t so sneaky, but it really can sting. Belittling is a way for the abuser to make the victim feel small or stupid, without specifically saying it. Belittling can come in the form of something known as jabs. Jabs are small comments meant to have a large emotional impact.
- It’s so cute when you try to talk about something you’re clueless on
- It’s best if you give up
- Try not to take things so personally
As much as they try to sound caring, they are sarcastic remarks.
Ways to counteract include:
- Ignoring comment
- Recognizing that the abuser is toxic
- Finding distance
2. Telling you who you are and should be
An abuser might try to convince their victim that they know them better than they know themselves. They may tell their victim that they are too sensitive or hard to please. It could be something like telling the victim they are untrustworthy, that they are flakey, or that they are always lying. The objective is to make the victim believe those things about themself. Verbal abuse is often aimed at making the victim seem powerless. If the abuser can make the victim believe what they are saying, then they can control the victim even more.
The abuser will argue against anything that the victim says. It doesn’t matter if the victim is correct in what they say, the abuser will oppose it at every turn. There will be no reasoning or evidence to support the abusers side. They will just argue against whatever it is that comes up between them and the victim. Often times it will be a simple “no” or “you’re wrong.” This leaves the victim isolated from their own minds. They are left to wonder why they are always wrong and what they can do to fix that. Not realizing that, with this kind of abuse, there is absolutely nothing that they could do differently. Abuse is never about something the victim can control. It is not their fault, ever.
This form of verbal abuse is aimed at making the victim feel like they have no right to feel the way they do. The abuser may say something like “wow, I guess you just can’t take a joke” when the victim takes offence to something. The goal is to make the victim feel silly for how they feel, no matter how valid that feeling might actually be. The thing to remember with verbal abuse is that the abuser will never allow the victim to be valid in anything they feel.
This is a tactic used to make the victim feel as if what they have to say isn’t important. It doesn’t matter what the victim is saying, the abuser will interrupt them constantly. They may also use this as a way to gain the upper hand and control the victim and the conversation. The abuser might finish the victims sentences or just speak for them as a whole. The idea is to take the victim’s voice away from them.
This form of abuses is employed by the abuser to control the conversation, just like with interrupting. The abuser might tell the victim that they are talking too much, talking out of turn, or complaining too much. The victim will then be quiet, which allows the abuser to speak whenever and however they want. The abuser might also use this as an opportunity to change the subject onto the victim. Perhaps using this as a time to belittle them in front of others to make the victim feel as low as possible. Physical abuse is all about control and verbal abuse is no different.
Threatening is a very overt form of abuse. The threats might be something like “if you keep acting like this I will drive off without you.” It can also escalate to “you’ll be sorry when we get home if you keep acting like this.” The abuser might also use this form of abuse to control the victim if they try to leave the relationship. For instance, they might threaten to commit suicide of the victim were to ever leave them. Or they might threaten to tell the victim’s secrets if the relationship were ever to dissolve. All of these examples are intended to strike fear in the heart of the victim. A fearful victim is easier to control as they will want to minimize the damage coming at them.
Abuse is a very serious situation, no matter the type of relationship. Verbal abuse doesn’t happen solely within intimate relationships. A family member might be the abuser, or even a friend or coworker. If you are worried you might be a victim of abuse, please seek help. You can chat with someone at The National Domestic Violence Hotlines, they are there for you 24/7. The abuse doesn’t have to be domestic and they can help you understand what’s happening to you.
Do you know of any other forms of verbal abuse? Please share them in the comments below.
Brogaard, Berit. “5 Types of Subtle Verbal Abuse in Relationships.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 26 Apr. 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mysteries-love/201704/5-types-subtle-verbal-abuse-in-relationships. Retrieved December 7, 2017
Brogaard, Berit. “15 Common Forms of Verbal Abuse in Relationships.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 27 Mar. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mysteries-love/201503/15-common-forms-verbal-abuse-in-relationships. Retrieved December 7, 2017
O’Campo, Patricia, et al. “Verbal Abuse and Physical Violence among a Cohort of Low-Income Pregnant Women.” Women’s Health Issues, Elsevier, 18 Oct. 2005, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1049386705801070. Retrieved December 7, 2017