What is Verbal Abuse?

See the following links:-

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbal_abuse    (excerpt below)

Verbal abuse is a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with one’s positive emotional development and, over time, can lead to significant detriment to one’s self-esteem, emotional well-being, and physical state. It has been further described as an ongoing emotional environment organized by the abuser for the purposes of control.

The underlying factor in the dynamic of abuse can be viewed as the abuser’s low regard for him- or herself. As the abuser may fear not being “good enough” and/or meeting other’s expectations, the abuser may attempt to place their victim in the position to feel or believe similar things about him or her self.

2. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-verbal-abuse.htm   (excerpt below)

Verbal abuse is a form of battery that involves the use of words, rather than blows and punches. In a verbally abusive situation, words are used to attack, control, and inflict harm on another person. Verbally abusive behavior goes far beyond mean behavior; it involves inflicting psychological violence on another person, attacking the very nature of an individual’s being and attempting to destroy his or her spirit. Verbal abuse can affect people of all ages and in all types of relationships. However, it is especially prevalent in marital relationships.

A number of behaviors are considered verbally abusive, including angry outbursts, screaming rages, and name-calling. Verbal abuse often includes blaming, brainwashing, and intimidation. Hidden aggression is a part of verbal abuse, as well. Verbal abuse is extremely manipulative, as insults are often disguised as caring comments. Verbal abuse can be overt or covert, but it is always about controlling and manipulating the victim.

Often, verbally abusive comments are offered as jokes. When the target of the joke is hurt or insulted, the verbal abuser laughs it off and says that the victim is overly sensitive. However, the intent of the verbal abuser is to cause this hurt. After a time, verbal abuse often escalates into physical abuse.

Arguments in verbally abusive relationships are far different from those in healthy relationships. Normally, people argue over real issues that have the potential to be resolved. In verbally abusive arguments, real conflicts are not the issue and problems are not resolved. The abuse becomes the issue, and often the victim is told that everything is always his or her fault.

Often, verbal abusers tell their victims what to think and how to feel. They typically refuse to see or understand the victim’s point of view. In fact, they often object, in a violently verbal way, to the victim’s opinions and desires. Verbal abusers often deny reality and attempt to keep their victims confused by constantly changing or distorting the issue.

Withholding is often a major part of verbal abuse. In a verbally abusive relationship, the abuser may withhold information, affection, support, or money. When the abuse victim attempts to speak up about such issues, the verbal abuser denies the issue altogether.

Verbal abusers often seek to isolate their partners, cutting off or blocking their relationships with friends and family. Sometimes, the verbal abuser works to convince the victim that the abuser is the only person who really cares about or likes the victim. In some cases, the verbal abuser may admit to his or her behavior and agree to stop. Typically, however, the behavior begins again within a short period of time.

Verbal abuse can be described as stealthy; it leaves wounds that are not visible to the naked eye. As it harms the mind and spirit, it can be more difficult to recognize than physical abuse. Also, its victims become so torn down by it that they are often unable to notice the abuse themselves.

Low self-esteem and confusion are ever-present in the minds of the verbally abused. The abuser is often able to convince the victim that he or she is the problem. In fact, verbal abusers often accuse the abused of playing the victim.

 Eventually, the verbal abuse victim becomes so worn down by the abuse that he or she becomes unable to put up a defense against it. Often, the victim begins to try to change or placate the abuser, thinking that such change will improve the relationship. Sadly, verbal abusers typically do not change on their own. For real change to occur, professional psychiatric help is usually required.

3.http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/abusiverelationships/f/verba_abuse.htmQuestion: (excerpt below)

Verbal abuse is difficult to identify and regrettably can be a common type of abuse in some marriages. Not all words that are meant to hurt are “ugly words.” A master at verbal abuse can damage your self-esteem while, at the same time, appear to care deeply for you. The use of words to punish is a very covert attempt to control and regardless of how loving your spouse may appear to be, verbal abuse is wrong and can be just has harmful as physical abuse.

Answer: Physical abuse is easily identified. There is no doubt, once you have been hit, that you have been abused. You don’t second guess yourself because the bruises and scars are visible evidence that abuse has taken place. Verbal abuse is different. The damage is internal, there are no physical bruises or scars, just a wounded spirit and sense of self-esteem.

Below are some common signs of verbal abuse:

  • Being called names by your spouse. Any negative form of name calling is unacceptable. If you feel that it is a put down, then it most likely is. There are names that are obvious and, without question abusive. Then there are the covert, veiled attempts to put a spouse down that are harder to identify. Verbal abusers love to use constructive criticism to beat a spouse down. If your spouse is constantly criticizing you, “for your own good,” be careful. This is the most insidious form of verbal abuse.
  • Using words to shame. Critical, sarcastic, mocking words meant to put you down either alone or in front of other people.
  • Yelling, swearing and screaming. I call this the “walking on eggs shells” syndrome because you are living with someone who goes verbally ballistic for very little cause.
  • Using threats to intimidate. No threat should be taken likely, even if your spouse tells you they are only joking, especially if it causes you to change behaviors or to feel on guard in the relationship.
  • Blaming the victim. Your spouse blows his/her top and then blames you for their actions and behavior. If you were only perfect they wouldn’t lose control!
  • Your feelings are dismissed. Your spouse refuses to discuss issues that upset you. They avoid discussion of any topic where they might have to take responsibility for their actions or words.
  • You often wonder why you feel so bad. You bury your feelings, walk on egg shells and work so hard at keeping the peace that every day becomes an emotional chore. You feel depressed and have even wondered if you are crazy.
  • Manipulating your actions. The persistent and intense use of threatening words to get you to do something or act in a way you find uncomfortable. 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, to get you to stay in the marriage. All in an attempt to get you to comply with their desires, regardless of what is best for you as an individual.

Responding to Verbal Abuse:

If your spouse, the person you are closest to habitually, verbally abuses you and dismisses your feelings, you will begin to see yourself and your needs as unimportant, of little consequence and irrelevant. When you finally recognize and come to terms with the idea that you are being verbally abused you need to also become focused on getting help. Here are some steps you can take if faced with verbal abuse:

  • Abuse is never justified so, you should never feel that it is your fault.
  • Let the abuser know how hurtful their words are and discuss with them the fact that it is unacceptable to you. Set boundaries on what you will and will not accept from your abuser.
  • Seek counseling, either together or separately.
  • Surround yourself with a support system of family and friends. Discuss with them what is happening and how you are feeling.
  • If the verbal abuse escalates to physical abuse, leave. Your personal safety is far more important than the relationship.
  • Do not engage in conflict with your abuser. If your spouse becomes angry stay calm, walk away and don’t give him/her what they want…a reaction from you.
  • Take back your power. If you react to the abuser, you are rewarding them. Letting them know they have power over your emotions. Don’t allow the abuser to have control over how you feel.

How Can Someone Identify and Respond to Verbal Abuse?

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