4 Reasons Verbal Abuse is So Dangerous (and what you can do about it)
1 year, 9 months ago Posted in: Blog, Emotional Development 0

What is verbal abuse? Verbal abuse can occur in any kind of relationship. It is generally a calculating, insidious process that intensifies over time. Suppose you’ve been the victim of someone who uses verbal abuse. In that case, you will recognize it when someone is repeatedly using negative or demeaning words or threats to gain or maintain power and control over you. Being on the receiving end of verbal abuse can cause you to question your own intelligence, value, or self-worth.

Verbal abuse can be harder to spot than other abuse types because it leaves no visible signs of damage and can be very subtle. This may lead the person receiving it to believe that these behaviors are expected, which may also make it difficult to recognize.

Four signs of verbal abuse that make it very dangerous

1. Generally, a person who repeatedly uses words to scare, undermine, belittle, humiliate, or discredit someone is verbally abusive.

2. The damage left behind by verbal and emotional abuse can be just as bad, if not worse in some cases, than physical injuries. The danger is in the unseen emotional damage to others. It contributes to many physical health conditions, such as chronic pain, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, self-harm, and depression.

3. If you remain in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship, it can have long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health.

4. Verbal abuse can be hard to detect for several reasons. Most abuse types occur behind closed doors and involve strategies that hide or discredit the abuse by encouraging you to feel that the abuse is your fault or deserved. The discrediting and hiding of the abuse might cause the receiver to feel as though it never happened at all.

Several types of verbal abuse

Discounting and Gaslighting:

“Discounting” means denying another’s rights to their own thoughts, emotions, or experiences. It occurs repetitively in dismissing someone’s feelings. Examples include telling someone that they are too sensitive, childish, don’t have a good sense of humor, or being dramatic. Gaslighting is denying events or describing them in a way so different from reality that the receiver starts to think that they are losing their memory or their mind.

Judging and Blaming:

Judging behavior appears as negative and judgmental evaluations that challenge another’s sense of self-worth. It involves using “you-statements” such as, “You’re never happy,” or “It’s never enough for you,” and “You’re so negative.” The use of the word “you” in this context can isolate the victim and become emotionally damaging. Blaming another person is also abusive when accusing them of forgetting things, ruining their reputation, or not finishing what they started.


This involves calling another person names that are negative or demeaning, such as “stupid,” “idiot,” or “worthless.” Or the abuser is negatively referring to one’s ethnicity, gender, race, religion, or state of medical health. This person might try to disguise name-calling as teasing to cover the harm. For example, they may say, “Women are always so emotional.”


A person using verbal abuse may repeatedly pressure someone else, often subtly. This kind of manipulation allows them to order someone to do something without directly staying it. These examples include, “If you really cared about me, you would do this,” and, “If you do that, everyone will think you’re a terrible person.”

Ways to overcome verbal abuse

Once verbal abuse begins, it tends to become a pattern in the relationship. Many perpetrators will either discourage, physically prevent, or threaten the victim to stop talking with others about the problem. Over time, it can affect one’s self-esteem and isolate them, making it harder to reach out for help.

Suppose verbal abuse occurs at work from a boss or co-worker. In that case, it should be reported to the company’s human resources department for counsel on how to handle the situation.

In other situations, such as relationships with family, friends, or at home, set clear boundaries, such as refusing to engage in abusive arguments or reducing contact with these people. For example, make a safety or exit plan with a person you trust who fully understands the situation. This is especially important in cases involving children and domestic partners.

If you are experiencing verbal abuse, you can often benefit from a certified counseling therapist. Select one who specializes in trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or emotional abuse

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