Subtle Signs Of Verbal Abuse & What Can You Do About It

Last Update on August 10, 2023 : Published on June 15, 2021
Signs Of Verbal Abuse

When we talk or hear about abuse, our minds automatically translate the word into some sort of physical attack but did you know that physical abuse is not the only kind of abuse. Verbal abuse is a subtle form of bullying or abuse and can have rather mental and emotionally damaging consequences.

Because of the lack of awareness about verbal abuse, many people do not realize that they are being abused and manipulated.

We are more likely to hear about abuse in a romantic relationship or a parent-child relationship but verbal abuse is not limited to these relationships. This form of abuse can occur in the workplace, society, friendships, and other family relationships.

What Is Verbal Abuse?

Getting into arguments with others is common and so is yelling but that’s it. After arguments, people move on, compromise, and let go. But when it comes to verbal abuse, the bullying doesn’t stop at compromise.

Verbal abusers use verbal jabs to cause emotional harm that often leads the victim to develop issues such as low self-esteem, trust issues, and more. Verbal abuse may make a person feel worthless, inadequate, and often stupid.

Verbal abuse can also be a non-physical manipulation tactic to control other’s behavior, actions, feelings, and choices. Verbal abusers may disguise their abuse as concern and love but in the end, the abuse may leave a person feeling fear. Fear of failure, abandonment, or humiliation.

Read Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse in Relationships!

What Are The Types Of Verbal Abuse?

Verbal abuse, like I mentioned earlier, is a subtle form of abuse and bullying. Verbal abuse – for people who’ve been subjected to such a form of abuse since childhood – may even be overlooked and treated as a normal way of communication.

Types of verbal abuse can be:

1. Name-calling: Can be disguised as pet names or teasing, name-calling can be categorized as verbal abuse.

2. Criticism: Constructive criticism can be good but harsh and hurtful remarks can be a form of verbal abuse.

3. Demeaning: A way to make one feel bad about themselves. Demeaning words can chip away at a person’s confidence.

4. Manipulation: An attempt to make one do something without directly ordering it can also be verbal abuse. Manipulation is used often as a means to exert control.

5. Blaming: Making someone believe that the abuse or its consequences are their responsibility.

6. Gaslighting: A covert form of abuse where the victim is forced to question their actions and judgments.

7. Withholding: Not giving one attention, not talking to one, or withholding affection is also a form of verbal abuse.

8. Threatening: Making threats outright is also verbal abuse. This is a way to frighten and manipulate the victim into compliance.

Some examples of verbal abuse can be:

  • “You are too sensitive.”
  • “Your ideas are dumb.”
  • “You are behaving childishly.”
  • “Why can’t you take a joke?”
  • “You are such a naive person.
  • “I was only teasing.”

Verbal abuse can have some seriously emotionally damaging impacts such as:

What Are The Impacts Of Verbal Abuse?

Verbal Abuse In Other Relationships

Verbal abuse, as I said, is not limited to romantic relationships. This form of abuse can occur in family relationships, child-parent relationships, platonic relationships, professional relationships, etc.

Workplace verbal abuse can be presented as threats, yelling, intimidation, gossip, false rumors, etc. Such behavior can make working miserable and unproductive. Continued verbal abuse at the workplace can affect not only your productivity but also your job security, financial security, and happiness. If you’re experiencing verbal abuse at your workplace, please contact HR to take action.

Verbal abuse when it comes to parent-child relationships can also affect one’s quality of life. If a parent is abusive (verbally or emotionally), it can affect how a child, in the future, forms relationships with others. However, if a child is abusive to their parents, it can cause the parents to lose confidence, self-esteem, ability to make decisions for themselves, or negatively affect their overall health and wellness.

Verbal abuse in friendships, however, can be disguised as teasing and playful. In truth, it can be as hurtful and harmful as any other form of bullying.

Friends tease and make fun of each other, all in good fun but when their teasing turns into hurtful remarks such as name-calling, belittling in front of others, manipulating, or criticizing you, it can be a sign of verbal abuse too.

What Are The Signs Of Verbal Abuse?

Signs Of Verbal Abuse in relationship

Here are some signs of verbal abuse you should keep a lookout for:

1. They call you names. Calling your partner pet names is okay but using those pet names to belittle your attributes is not okay.

2. Their words are meant to belittle you. Using mocking and sarcasm to make you feel less than or inferior than is a sign of verbal abuse. This can be in the form of comments about your dressing, how you look, or how you talk.

3. They make fun of you. When someone treats you as a joke or makes fun of you at your expense, it can be recognized as a sign of verbal abuse too. Verbal abusers attack their victims where they are most vulnerable.

4. They humiliate you in front of others. Nothing hurts more than being humiliated and made fun of in front of others. This subtle sign of verbal abuse can cause the victim to develop low self-esteem and feelings of shame.

5. They always criticize you. As I said before, constructive criticism is welcome but when the criticism is directed towards you in a negative light, it is never good nor helpful.

A verbal abuser aims to make their victim feel less than and inferior to them.

What To Do About Verbal Abuse?

1. Recognize The Signs

The first step you should take is to recognize the signs of the abuse. Once you acknowledge the signs of verbal abuse, it becomes easier to learn how to deal with it and take control again.

2. Set Boundaries

Once you’ve identified the signs, the next step is to tell your abuser that they don’t get to call you names, threaten you, or manipulate you in any way. If they yell at you, you walk out of the room until they take your actions seriously.

3. Set A Positive Support Network

The next thing to do is to step away from them and step into a positive support network. Interact with people who love and support you no matter what you do or how you act. Surround yourself with a group of friends and family who make you feel not less than or inferior.

4. Cut Ties

The next step is to see if the abuser is making efforts to change their behavior. If you see they are not, then it’s time to cut ties and end your relationship with them. Before you cut ties with them, make sure you consult with a counselor or a trusted friend or family member and create a safety net to fall back on if something goes wrong.

5. Seek Professional Help

Coping and healing from any kind of abusive relationship isn’t easy so in case you’re stumbling with the end of your relationship, seek professional help. A therapist or a counselor can help you understand your emotions and help you learn effective coping skills to help you in the future.

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Verbal abuse is subtle but it can be as devastating as any other form of abuse. Once you’ve recognized the signs of verbal abuse, you can learn to extract yourself from situations where your relationship – romantic, platonic, or professional – can turn abusive or toxic.

Bullying, in no form, is okay and if you see someone being bullied or abused or if you are being bullied or abused, please step up and speak against it.

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Be safe and take care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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