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Verbal Abuse Is Much More Destructive Than You Think. Don’t Overlook That

Verbal Abuse Is Much More Destructive Than You Think. Don’t Overlook That

You may have heard disparaging comments directed at someone, or maybe even yourself: in the girls’ locker room, on the bus, at work, but when someone faces them on a regular basis, it cracks their self-esteem and erodes their self-confidence. They feel hurt, lonely and maybe even afraid.

Verbal abuse is “the excessive use of (negative) language to undermine someone’s dignity and security through insults or humiliation in a sudden or repeated manner”.[1] It does not get better after a time, it only gets worse.

According to statistics, 1 in 5 college women have been verbally abused by a partner[2].

The first verbal attack will take you off guard. You may even think you heard it wrong, they were joking, or more than likely, misunderstood them. But then you may notice these incidents more and more.

Common Forms of Verbal Abuse

  • Name calling
  • Crude remarks
  • Put-downs
  • Sarcasm & mockery
  • Hostility
  • Threats
  • Spreading rumors
  • Yelling & screaming

Lesser Known Forms of Verbal Abuse

These lesser known forms of verbal abuse often go over-looked, as they happen in relationships and often privately.[3]

Blocking & diverting

You try to have a conversation with your partner and they switch gears mid-conversation and redirect the subject away from what you intended. Other times they refuse to discuss the subject point blank.

Blaming

Everything that goes wrong seems to be your fault. They can’t find their wallet- you must have moved it (you didn’t). They forgot their dentist appointment- it’s your fault you didn’t remind them. It doesn’t matter what the issue- they could hit you and still tell you it’s your fault! They refuse to take responsibility themselves.

Denial

They deny everything. No, they didn’t eat that last piece of cake. No, they aren’t having an affair. You may even catch them doing something and yet they will still deny it.

Criticizing

They let you know that everything you ever do in life is wrong. Your cooking is all wrong. Your choice in clothing is atrocious. You wonder how you ever survived all these years making such bad choices! It’s not you- it’s them. You will never live up to their imaginary standards- no one could.

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Treating you like a servant

They expect you to drop what you are doing and tend to their needs- now, as if they are the most important person in the world and you are their lowly servant. They think your own jobs should be put on a back burner when they are around. They believe they are king of the castle, and will make you feel miserable if you don’t bend to their wishes.

Undermining

You have dreams and goals, and they set out to make them collapse under you. If you plan a weekend away, they suddenly have an important meeting that came up at the office and they need the car. Any shining light towards a free life of your own they will hunt down and snuff out. They don’t want you to be free or chase your own dreams, as they don’t want to lose their power over you.

Telling you that you are crazy

You know what happened the other night, but they twist the scenario around to suit them and tell you that you must be going crazy. It sounds insane that you could even fall for it, yet when it happens over and over, they are conditioning- or brainwashing you. Eventually you will begin to doubt yourself and your perspective. You may even believe you might be crazy. You aren’t.

Making you feel like you are with a Jekyll-Hyde

One moment they are charming and lovable and the next they are an unbelievable terrifying monster. You live a stressful life around them as you are never sure which version you are going to face. You tip-toe around certain trigger topics just to avoid Mr. Hyde from rearing his ugly head.

The Negative Influences of Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse takes it’s toll on victims mentally and physically[4].

Verbal Abuse Affects You Mentally

  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Memory issues
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome)
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleeping issues
  • Alcohol & drug abuse
  • Self-mutilation
  • Suicide
  • Becoming an abuser yourself

Verbal Abuse Affects You Physically

  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines & frequent headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Gastric issues
  • Stress-related heart conditions

Why Abusers Act Like That

Verbal abuse steals lives. How can someone choose to torment and manipulate another human being?[5] Many abusers are known to be charming and powerful figures in public, some even pillars of their communities. But their victims witness their other side in private. What are the reasons that causes their abuses?

Power & Control

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They feel the need to be in control, and by bending you to their will, they have power over you. Everything else in their life may be going haywire, but if you are trapped under their spell, they have control over something.

Low personal self-esteem

Abusers often suffer from low self-esteem. Instead of trying to raise their own self-confidence, they choose to bring everyone else down to their level and push them under.

Personality Disorders

Some abusers suffer from psychological disorders, like narcissism or psychosis. They may even suffer from brain damage. They exhibit little or no empathy. In their eyes, you are not a person. You are an object, their possession, to be manipulated and used by them.

They were abused themselves or grew up watching abuse in their household

Some abusers were abused as children or they witnessed an abusive relationship in their youth. If they were not privy to healthy relationships, they may even mistakenly believe that is how the dynamics work in relationships.

The Psychology That Causes Victims to Stay in an Abusive Relation

A verbal abuser sees you as their target[6]. They are not going to stop. The solution is transparent to someone viewing from the outside of the relationship, but when you are trapped inside, caught up and manipulated by your abuser, it can be difficult to see or even think clearly.

Some abusive relationships are cut and dry- bad from the beginning, but others can go through cycles of good and bad that confuses the victim into thinking each incident is a one-off situation [7].

Also the victim may fear repercussions from leaving the abuser- physical violence, stalking, kidnapping of their children and even homicide[8].

The Cycle of Abuse

Your relationship starts out good, then an ‘incident’ happens. The abuser may feel bad, and even apologize profusely and you both go back to as before.

However, the next incident or series of incidents arise. Afterwards, there’s more apologies, maybe flowers this time. Then all is well until the next incident of abuse.

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You may forgive and forget, but by doing so, you are accepting their deplorable behavior and also conditioning yourself tolerate it. This becomes a vicious cycle that escalates. You start wondering if it’s something you did, or tell yourself it must be alcohol or drug-related. Eventually those episodes become more frequent with less happy times sandwiched in between.

Then one day you wake up and find yourself trapped in a nightmare situation, with no self-confidence, questioning your own sanity, and wondering how on earth it all happened. You believe you are truly alone. But you aren’t, not really- that is just what your abuser wants you to think.

The Solutions to Verbal Abuses

You may choose to cut all ties with your abuser. However, for whatever personal reason you have, if you decide to stay, there are ways to help you deal with verbal abuse[9].

Arm yourself with knowledge

Giving a name to what you are facing can lessen the power of your abuser. When you know you are being baited or recognize the senseless blaming for what it is, you are more able to control your own reactions to the situation. Read up online about verbal abuse. Arm yourself with knowledge.

Stop reacting to their baiting

Once you stop reacting to their baiting the way they expect, you take their power (over you) away from them. Tell then to “Stop it.” Name their game and step away from the situation.

Instill boundaries

Set boundaries in your relationship and have consequences if they are crossed. Carry out those consequences.

Tell somebody

If only to maintain your sanity, tell a close friend or family member what is going on and keep an outside perspective on the situation. Whereas you may get sucked into the lulling stages of the abuse cycle, someone outside of that circle may be able to call it out for what it is. Set up a safe word you can text them or say over the phone if you need rescuing from a situation, or for them to call the police.

Seek professional counselling

Sometimes you need professional help. You may be in a long-term relationship or have children- something you can not see yourself easily extracting from. Seek help. Not all counselors are trained to deal with abuse issues, so look for a domestic abuse counselor.

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Find community resources to help you

Contact social services or your local domestic violence agency. You can also seek support from others who know exactly what you are facing at Domestic Violence Meetings.

Remove yourself from the situation

You may be able to walk out of the room and away from the craziness, but what if you can’t? Verbal abuse can quickly spiral into physical violence. If you feel physically threatened, leave immediately. Call 911 when you are safe. There are some situations that may require you to get out fast and far away. There are safe places you can go .

Call the authorities

If you are threatened with violence or someone wanting to hurt themselves if you leave them, call the police (911) immediately.

It is High Time to Leave the Abuse

If you make the decision to leave your abuser, the Woman’s Law website has detailed advice on everything you need – from personal effects to legal documents to make planned and emergency escapes.

Plan an exit strategy and keep yourself safe. Do not place yourself in a volatile situation.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

You are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Reference

[1] Prevention-violence.com: Prevent Violence at Work
[2] TheHotline.org: Abuse Statistics
[3] Verbalabusejournals.com: Types of Verbal Abuse
[4] Healthyplace.com: Effects of Verbal Abuse on Children, Women & Men
[5] Mentalhealth.net:Why Do People Abuse
[6] Healthyplace.com: How Do I Stop Verbal Abuse-Part 1
[7] Domesticviolence.org: Cycle of Violence
[8] StopAbuse.Umich.edu: About Domestic Violence: Barriers to Leaving
[9] Healthyplace.com: 5 Ways of Dealing with Verbally Abusive relationships

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Sally White

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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