Commonly referred to as bullying or reviling, verbal abuse is best defined as an ongoing emotional environment organized by an abusive party for the purpose of belittling a victim. The primary factor in the dynamic of verbal use is the aggressor’s low self-esteem or low regard for him or herself. As a result of this feeling, the abuser will attempt to place their victim in a position to form a warped sense of self—the attack is initiated to bring down the victim to the bully’s level.
Verbal abuse may be elicited to a person of any sexual orientation, race, gender, age, size or culture. Typically, verbal abuse attacks escalate into physical abuse; rarely does an instance of verbal use not intensify over time. After the initial verbal strike, a victim may fall into depression or a stress disorder.
Although verbal abuse is the most common form of abuse, the form of attack is generally not taken as seriously as other forms of abuse, primarily because there is no tangible sign or symptom of an attack. That being said, verbal abuse can be more detrimental to a victim’s health than physical assaults. If verbal abuse starts at a young age, it will contribute to the formation of codependency, borderline personality disorder and several other psychological disorders that may plague a person throughout their adult life.
Verbal abuse includes the following actions: countering, discounting, attacks obfuscated with jokes, judging, criticizing, trivializing, undermining, name-calling, abusive anger, denial of abuse and threatening.
Characteristics of Verbal Abuse:
Verbal abuse, in all forms, perpetuates mental anguish and emotional pain. The attacks are often hyperboles; they are attacks on a victim’s physical appearance, beliefs, family, personality etc. Verbal abuse can exist in a number of forms; verbal abuse can exist in relationships between family members, spouses, lovers, friends, co-workers, students etc.
Regardless of the form, verbal abuse is delivered with the intention to degrade or belittle the victim. Although the attacks are not delivered physically, the sharpness of the words and the attached intent, can often lead to the formation of severe emotional problems.
Verbal abuse is also rarely a solitary attack; verbal abuse is incessant. The abuser’s goal is to disparage the victim until the individual is stripped of confidence and any resemblance of self-worth. Because the attacks are malicious and perpetual, it is necessary to mitigate or extinguish the relationship or source of the verbal attack.
How Do I Get Help If I’m A Victim of Verbal Abuse?
Victims of verbal abuse—those who are verbally attacked—must seek professional counsel or remove themselves from the damaging environment whenever possible. Staying in contact with a verbal aggressor is deleterious to a person’s well-being—all steps must be taken to change the situation.