• Lady J


Updated: Jul 5, 2020

“You aren’t a great cook, you know that.  Your food is disgusting.”  “Stop being so sensitive, you such a cry baby.” “I work hard everyday and this is how you treat me?” “I was so angry at you, I could’ve hit you, but I didn’t.  Give me credit for that at least given how much you pissed me off.”

If any of this sounds familiar to you, you are an in verbally abusive relationship.  If you’re not sure what that means, you will be at the end of  this post as well as how it affects your mental health and how to get help.

What is Verbal Abuse?

According to Wikipedia, verbal abuse (also verbal attack or verbal assault) is the act of forcefully criticizing, insulting, or denouncing another person. Morningsiderecovery.com further explains although verbal abuse is not physical in nature and does not leave visible bruises, it is just as damaging and can leave an individual with emotional scars and trauma.  For those that struggle with mental illness, this type of relationship can make your symptoms make your trauma(s) worse, thus causing you to spiral downward.

With verbal abuse, the abuser uses words as a way to exert control and dominance over the victim. It is a behavior that is often thought of in terms of domestic violence; however, it can occur in places of work, school, etc. Spouses, teachers, employers, girlfriends, boyfriends, or friends can be verbally abusive. When it comes to relationships, it is often a precursor to physical violence.

9 Ways to Recognize Verbal Abuse

Below are some examples of situations you may experience while in a verbally abusive relationship:

Name-calling: if the name calling is positive and uplifting to such as Babe, Honey, Sweetie or a name that you decide on, this is considered healthy name calling.  However, “pet names” names that belittle you and negativity affect your self esteem is negative and demeaning.

Example: Sweetie, don’t embarrass me at this party with your childish antics.  

Condensation: this another form of belittling you.  In order to make themselves feel superior, the comments they make are sarcastic, arrogant and patronizing.

Example: Go back and change that dress, it ugly and makes you look fat

Criticism: constructive criticism is something that should be supportive in making positive changes.  However, in a verbally abusive relationship, the criticism is harsh and is intended to break down your self esteem.

Example: You know how I like chicken cooked, you can never make it the way I want.  In fact, you mess everything up!

Degradation: Making you feel bad about yourself is the abuser goal.  How do they do this, they humiliate you and degrade you.

Example: You should be glad I agreed to marry you, no else wanted you and sometimes I don’t want you either

Manipulation: In order to control you and make you confused, abusers attempt to make you do something that you don’t want to do, but they don’t want to make it obvious that they are manipulating you.

Example: I haven’t felt loved by you in a while, but by you doing this, it will show me that you do.

Blame: We all make mistakes and are to blame for some things, but abusers make everything your fault and they blame you for their behavior.

Example: I hate getting into fights with you, but your pettiness makes me so mad!

Accusations: If your abuser is guilty of how they have treated you, or are envious of you they turn it around and make you question if you’re in the wrong.

Example: Did you know your ex was gonna be at that party, were you with him when you went to the bathroom?

Isolating or withholding: Ignoring you, not talking to you or not making eye contact with so that you can work harder to get their attention.

Example: At a party you say something that makes them ‘upset’ and they storm off to sit in the car.  They tell you that it’s time to leave and they don’t speak to you for a day or two.

Gaslighting: A planned effort that makes you question what events have happened or happening.  You find yourself apologizing for things that were not your fault and it can make you more dependent on your abuser.

Example: You bring up something such as an argument and they tell you that it never happened, deny it, or you made it up. 

Circular Arguments: arguments and disagreements happen, not everyone is going to agree all time, but most can come to an agreement or compromise.  However, the abuser will use this as a way to manipulate you, hurt you or aggravate you.  Coming to an agreement or compromise wasn’t their intention.

Example: You’re not ready to start a family, but your abuser brings it up every month

Threats: Threats in many cases is a sign that verbal abuse will escalate and may lead to physical abuse.

Example: If you leave this house to have lunch with your bitch friends, I might just slap up for not wanting to spend time with me

Please remember that these behaviors can go from verbal assaults to physical assaults.  I know it may be hard, and you might be in denial, but if you’re reading this then you know that something is wrong with your relationship and that you need help and soon.  

How Verbal Abuse Effects Mental Health

If you have been hurt physically or emotionally at an event or events, you have experienced trauma.  Trauma can have lasting effects that can impact your mental, physical and emotional health.  When you experience abuse or trauma, this puts you at a high risk for certain mental health conditions such as:

If you want to learn about each disorder, click on the terms.

You can experience verbal abuse as a child or as an adult.  Here are the long-term effects of verbal abuse:

  • Severe anxiety, stress, or fear

  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs

  • Depression

  • Eating disorders

  • Self-injury

  • Suicide

  • Mood swings

  • Lowered self-esteem 

  • Misplaced guilt

  • Isolation and loneliness

  • Post Traumatic stress disorder

How Can You Get Help?

Leaving any abusive relationship is hard.  You go through so many emotions like fear, guilt, conflicted and the list can go on.  However, you may have to have to hit rock bottom before you decided to leave, or you decided enough is enough.  What matters the most is that you leave and get help ASAP.  If you need to go to the police, make the call - and don’t feel guilty, especially if you feel like you are in danger.  If you’ve been physically hurt, go to hospital, be prepared to speak to the police, doctors are required to report certain cases if they feel the need (I watched ER enough to know this).  Both the police and doctor can document what happened, if you should want to press charges this document will help.

If you notice a change with how you behave, think and feel - make an appointment to see a therapist.  Verbal abuse can take its toll on you mentally, especially if your abuser constantly belittled, demeand, and made you feel less than.  If you believe what was said and it has affected your self-esteem, seek counseling.  Counselors can help you make sense of how you're feeling, help create a treatment plan that can help manage your symptoms.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911!  Here are some helplines to get help if you are experiencing more than verbal abuse:

I hope this information has educated, empowered, supported and encouraged you to find the inner strength you have to leave and get help.  

My 2 Cents

  1. Not excusing their behavior, but those who are abusers have experienced some type of trauma or abuse themselves.  They haven't received help or they may have stopped and they take out their own issues on someone else.  This is why it’s important for the stigma to end, so that people can feel free to seek help without shame.

  2. I want to stress the importance of leaving and seeking help ASAP.  Don’t wait, the longer you wait you may suppress your feelings or take you feeling out on others.


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*I am not a licensed therapist.  This post does not serve as a form of therapy or diagnosis.  If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or your doctor.