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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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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

1. Compare Yourself to Others

People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[1]. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

2. Be Mean-Spirited

People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

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If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

4. Dwell on Failure

It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

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People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset[2]. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

6. Try to Please Others

They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

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7. Close Yourself off

Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”[3]. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

9. Fish for Compliments

If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

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10. Be Lazy

People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

11. Shy Away from Risks

When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

12. Gossip

People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

The Bottom Line

Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

More Tips on Building Confidence

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem
[2] Brain Pickings: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
[3] Forbes: Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better

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