Abusive relationships are always a cause for concern, such relationships may be between a parent and a child, between a couple, or even in school, it may even be in a fiduciary relationship. The fact remains that whatever the kind of relationship, abuse which means to literally treat someone with cruelty or violence is never welcomed.
Major attention is centred around the damage caused by physical abuse, which irrespective is in need of dire attention due to the spate of physical abuse and the effect of the psychology of the victims, who are usually children and women. However, the perpetration of abuse is not limited to its physical manifestation, there is also the issue of verbal abuse which bears equal importance as the effect causes an equal but albeit unquantifiable amount of damage on the minds of the victims.
Verbal abuse may tend to adorn the look of an everyday argumentative conversation thus making it quite difficult to immediately identify, thus it becomes a clandestine way to exert power over another person. It is an act that develops over time in a surreptitious and subtle manner. Such emotional abuse, may involve even violent outbursts used to intimidate, such as slamming doors, breaking things and causing damage to themselves or to other inanimate objects. Persons who are skilled in perpetrating this abuse often destroy the self-esteem of their victims while at the same time they paint a picture of them caring for the same victims. The effects of this is so bad and can lead to depression, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and emotional issues. Due to the fact that verbal abuse happens most times in private moments, there can be no intervention and it becomes difficult for the victim to accurately express how they feel, some of the victims even begin to entertain some of the thoughts being thrown at them and think on those things, thereby giving power to the abuser and their words.
Signs of Verbal Abuse
Due to the insidious, private and surreptitious nature of verbal abuse and it’s difficulty to understand it is important for everyone to see the tell-tale signs of verbal abuse. To understand what verbal abuse is, we must first discuss what verbal abuse is not.
- Verbal abuse is different from an everyday disagreement
- A normal disagreement does not result in name callings and personal attacks
- Such normal disagreement doesn’t happen everyday
- Verbal abusers unlike normal disagreeing couple do not listen to try and understand the other party’s position
- Normal agreements yield to compromise that does not involve punishments and threats
- Such disagreements for non verbal abusers does not have a winner takes all form.
On the other hand, cases of verbal abuse usually takes the following form:
- Name Calling: these are usually disguised in the form of pet names with an underlying tone meant to belittle the victim. It also involves the use of derogatory language that begins to tear down the self-esteem of the victim. These words may target the feelings of insecurities shared by the victims to their abusers who use these feelings to attack the psychology of the victims.
- Condescending statements: The abusers may effectively utilize the use of snide remarks that are meant to make the victim feel less of themselves, they may attack the way the victim looks, their intelligence, the way they talk etc. all in a bid to create a sense of superiority over the victim. It may come off as a joke, but over time it becomes derogatory.
- Blame Game: Through this means, the abuser recreates the scenario in such a manner that it portrays the victim as being the cause of the abuse they suffer. It also includes blaming the victim for things they are not reasonably expected to control.
- Yelling: One of the major ways an abuser tries to exert their power is by yelling at the victim, even without provocation, until they get what they want, they use the increase in their voice as a way to intimidate the victim into getting what they want.
- Criticisms: Constant harsh meant to cast doubt on the victim’s ability to think. These criticisms are usually not constructive rather they are intentionally destructive.
- Gaslighting: through this method abusers ensure that their victims are doubtful about their judgements, or about their decisions, it may even go as far as making the victim doubt the occurrence of an event.
- The use of Threats: abusers may begin to make statements that would be used to put fear in the victim, that would be meant to force the victim into compliance.
- Withholding: In this way, an abuser refuses to extend a show of affection towards their partner, they may exhibit silent treatment, refusal to share the same space with you which is meant to make you go the extra mile to win their affection.
- Manipulation: An abuser may attempt to subtly convince their partner to do stuff against their wish without necessarily being overt about it, it is a subtle way of gaining control which could be very abusive.
- Dismissive: Emotional abusers tend to dismiss their victim’s opinions, thoughts and experiences, they tend to give little credence to them which makes them lose their ability to determine the rightness or wrongness of their feelings.
Other forms of abuse usually include:
- Isolating the victim
- Humiliating the victim
Emotional and verbal abuse gets so bad that they often result in the low self-esteem of the victim, anxiety, depression, personality disorder, withdrawal, drug abuse, and severe stress among others.
How to Overcome Verbal Abuse
Thankfully, after spotting the signs of verbal and emotional abuse, it becomes inherent on the victim to make efforts to tackle these incidences of emotional abuse to avoid repetition and to salvage the mind of the victim from further abuse. There are some actions that may be taken that may help reduce put a check on an abuser’s tactics such as:
- Set Boundaries: by doing this, the victim makes known to the abuser what they can and what they can’t tolerate in the relationship and follows through with their decision to not tolerate such verbal abuse.
- Joining a group: the difficulty in sharing experiences from an abusive relationship may be hard, it is often considered safer to be alone in these circumstances, however the opposite is what is needed. It is important to be in the midst of people who may share ideas and opinions on how to deal with such situations, especially persons who may have survived similar experiences.
- Reduce Exposure: The victim limits the time they spend with the abuser and spends more time with persons who love them and value them. This gives the abuser the space to reset their understanding of the relationship and the victim is placed in an atmosphere where they are given the opportunity to value themselves again.
- Quit the abusive relationship: Where the abuser has adamantly refused to be amenable, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the victim, it would be highly advisable for the victim to leave such relationship because to continue may lead to escalation of abuse and more damage to the victim.
- Get professional help: it is important for the victim of an emotional or verbal abuse to seek help from a professional so as to cushion and eventually erase the short or long term effect of the abuse.
- Lastly, it is important for the victim to reemphasize to themselves how much value they are worth, and to speak positively to themselves.