Verbal abuse can be difficult to identify and, unfortunately, can also be a common thing to experience in a relationship. A verbally abusive relationship at first glance doesn’t seem to be any type of toxic relationship, but it is.
Verbal abusers, i.e. let’s call them “masters of manipulation”, can cause low self esteem disorder, but at the same time they seem to care very much about you. Using the word punishment is a very covert attempt at control. No matter how much your partner loves you, verbal abuse is insidious and can be just as harmful as physical abuse even though the consequences aren’t visible.
Verbal abuse can be called an act of violence by speech. This can involve violently criticizing, insulting, or condemning and threatening another person in a psychological way.
“Verbal abuse can be any way a partner uses their language to control a relationship, it can be speech used to make a partner feel less valued or important in a relationship.” Anonymous
Physical abuse is easy to recognize. There’s no doubt that if you have been abused, if your partner has hit or hurt you, you have some “sign”. Verbal abuse is different. The damage is internal. There are no physical bruises or scars, just a wounded and tired spirit. While both can have long-term internal effects such as depression, anxiety, and more, emotional abuse can be difficult to define without knowing the signs.
Individuals are more likely to be in a violent relationship if their partner exhibits signs of being a verbal abuser in the relationship:
- Their partner responds to what they perceive as criticisms or challenges by devaluing the alleged perpetrators without justifiable arguments.
- Their partner can’t tolerate disagreement because they think they’re always right.
- Their partner tries to isolate them from anyone who might have an impact because the people mentioned are perceived as potential threats or competition.
- Their partner never apologizes because they equate an apology with being “less than” or worthless or losers.
- Their partner subjects them to consistently-inconsistent behavior during which providing kind treatment to a partner in relation to ill-treatment seemingly arbitrary, random, and unpredictable.
- Their partner places emphasis on exercising power and control over them.
Critical, sarcastic, or mocking words aimed at putting you down, whether addressing you between four walls or among other people, are a type of abuse. These can be comments about the way you dress, how you speak, or your intelligence. It can be about anything. Any comments that make you feel inferior or ashamed are often intentional by the abuser. Never experience them as the truth!
“When a partner is verbally abusive, they do not have equality in the relationship at the center of their values.” Anonymous
When a spouse resorts to shouting without much provocation, you can be understandably worried that everything you say will irritate them. If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells and have to censor what you’re saying around them and pay attention to your every word, then of course that’s not a good sign. If your partner’s emotionally unstable and yells out loud to intimidate you, you probably won’t feel safe in a relationship.
If your spouse loses their nerves, do they blame you for their actions and behavior? This is called blaming the victim, and it’s a sign of verbal abuse that’s often associated with narcissistic personalities. The reasons or apologies they describe can be intentionally intricate to confuse you, resulting in your apologies for their actions.
This means they set the situation in their own way, the opposite of the real truth. Then they can be overly attached to make you believe that they never actually hurt you, that you just imagined it in some way.
“It’s important to remember that people in violent relationships don’t always experience variable abuse 100 percent of the time,” Anonymous
Often, after an episode of abuse, couples reconcile and briefly have a kind of honeymoon phase. This is a piece that leads to emotional complexity and lists victims to justify their partner’s abuse or take the blame for it. This means they don’t see the problem around them, they act like everything is normal.
A typical example of manipulation that works in such a way that it rejects your true feelings. When your spouse refuses to discuss issues that bother you, they may be avoiding their responsibility. Conversations about the actions and words that hurt you are over, and problems that reflect badly on their behavior are discarded. This is also a form of gaslighting: worries are ignored, and your partner insists that certain events “didn’t happen”. They try to force you to simply imagine that all is fine. Gaslighting can make you reconsider your own reality, which can lead to a cycle of blaming the victim.
Persistent and intense use of threatening words can lead you to do things or act in a way that’s uncomfortable and inconsistent with your personality. This form of verbal abuse is common at the end of a marriage. If your spouse doesn’t want a divorce, they will say whatever it takes to play on your emotions and keep you married. It will lead you to start believing in it. It’s an attempt to make you satisfy their desires, without looking at what’s best for you as an individual.
You catch yourself neglecting your feelings, trying not to upset your partner, and trying so hard to keep your peace that it becomes an emotional job for you every day. You may feel depressed or sometimes wonder if you’re crazy. What’s happening to you? You turn your stress inwards. By punishing yourself for your partner’s behavior, you feel like it’s all happening in your head. You think that everything happens because you’re doing something wrong and that you’re to blame for everything.
When someone abuses you, it can change your opinion of yourself. You become so preoccupied with the relationship and try to avoid harassing your partner by leaving the person you once were. You lose yourself and leave personal boundaries. If you find that you justify abuse in your relationship for any reason, and in the past you would never have imagined suffering such behavior, it’s probably time to seek help.
How to stop being verbally abusive in a relationship
Abuse is never justified. Remind yourself that it’s not your fault and consider the possibility of leaving when you experience it. If the person you love’s verbally abusive and rejects your feelings, you may not see yourself as you should. Listen to those feelings that go against what you know is right for you. If you’re told in any way that your feelings, thoughts, or emotions aren’t appreciated, it’s time to reach for some support that will help you get rid of that bad feeling.
When you realize you have been abused, try to focus on seeking help. Here are a few things to consider if you’re facing verbal abuse:
- Seek consultation with a relationship therapist, either together or separately. Judge for yourself.
- Surround yourself with a system of support from family and friends who can validate your experiences and be with you.
- Communicate with your “abuser” about their offensive words and discuss that this behavior is unacceptable to you and that you can no longer do so. Set boundaries of what you want and what you will not accept in a relationship.
- It’s time to put yourself first.
- Leave a marriage or relationship (when nothing else helps).
- Don’t blame yourself for someone’s behavior.
- Never stay in a relationship with someone who hurts you.
- Don’t ignore thoughts, feelings and instincts.
Although verbal abuse leaves no visible trace, those who experience it continue to suffer emotionally. However, nothing’s eternal. Your experience shouldn’t be discarded. By showing yourself the care you would show for others, you can embark on a journey of a fulfilled future. Remember, a verbally abusive relationship doesn’t have to leave a lasting effect. With the help of intervention, victims can overcome and cope with the violence they’ve experienced. You aren’t alone!
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