Names Can Always Hurt You

Abuse doesn’t have to be physical, it can also be emotional. The most common type of emotional abuse is called, “verbal abuse.” Verbal abuse can take place using spoken or written language and can occur with or without expletives.

In verbal abuse, there is a pattern of behavior which can interfere with or impair the victim’s self-esteem and positive emotional development. By causing these emotional changes, the perpetrator gains control over the victim. It is believed that the dynamic of abuse springs from the abuser’s own low self-regard. Because the abuser feels inferior or incapable of meeting his victim’s expectations, he attempts to turn the tables by making the victim feel this way about his abuser.

May Escalate

Reports of verbal and emotional abuse show that these occur most often in romantic relationships where the couple consists of a man and a woman. The typical victim who reports the behavior is female. But verbal abuse can occur with either gender, and for that matter, irrespective of cultural norms, race, or age. In the typical scenario of verbal abuse, the intensity of the attacks increases over a period of time and may escalate to physical abuse.

Because the effect of verbal abuse is to cause the victim to suffer lowered self-worth, he becomes subject to clinical depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even though the effects of verbal abuse may not be visible, there is real damage. Because there are no physical signs of this type of abuse, verbal abuse is not often addressed with the appropriate level of seriousness. Verbal abuse can be even more damaging than physical abuse, especially when perpetrated against a child.

When verbal abuse begins during the victim’s youth, there can be serious future repercussions so that the victim may develop attitudes or complexes that plague him even into adulthood. Those who feel they may be the victims of verbal abuse should seek professional help and should attempt to leave the abusive relationship or environment if at all possible. School children may be victims of verbal abuse by playground or classroom bullies. Parents should approach school officials and attempt to intervene on their child’s behalf in such cases.

Healthy Relationships

Identifying an abusive relationship becomes possible only when one has an understanding of a healthy relationship. In a healthy relationship, there is love, acceptance, understanding, faith, trust, and responsibility, among other qualities. Here are some of the signs of verbal abuse as exhibited by the abuser:

*Isolating the victim from supportive family members and friends

*Assigning blame to the victim for causing the abuse


*Threatening to leave

*Making the victim feel unloved or unwanted

*Causing the victim to submit to inappropriate behaviors


*Accusing the victim of manipulating the perpetrator’s ability to form decisions

*The purposeful humiliation of the victim by the perpetrator

*Skewing the meaning of the victim’s words

Constant Ridicule

*Consistent disrespect, criticism, and ridicule of the victim

*Ignoring the victim

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