What Is Verbal Abuse and How Is It Harmful?

Verbal Abuse

**Content Warning: This article discusses verbal abuse and lists common examples. If you are experiencing abuse or domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for help and resources.**

Most people consider abuse to only be physical. However, abuse takes many forms, including financial, emotional, and verbal. Verbal abuse is very common but gets dismissed because most people don’t perceive it as harmful as other forms of abuse.

However, verbal abuse is very harmful and can have damaging effects on one’s mental health. This type of abuse can be seen everywhere, from families to relationships, and is even found in work and school settings.

Read on to learn more about this type of abuse as well as the harm that it causes. If you want to read further about verbal abuse or other types of abuse, you find more information and further reading at BetterHelp.

What Is Verbal Abuse?

Verbal abuse is the act of using words to harm, demean, control, or manipulate someone. This type of abuse is meant to put someone down or hurt their character. The abuser wants the person to feel bad about themselves. It is a form of control, as the abuser can use their words to control the other person’s mental state and well-being.

Common Examples Of Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse comes in many forms, but ultimate is any language that is used to demean or mentally harm another person. For example, an abuser may dismiss their abuse as “just an argument” or suggest the survivor deserved it. However, abuse is never deserved and is not a normal part of a healthy relationship.

Here are some common examples of verbal abuse.

  • Name-calling
  • Insults
  • Frequent screaming
  • Accusations (often unfounded)
  • Guilt-tripping
  • Gaslighting
  • Condescension
  • Criticism
  • Degradation
  • Manipulation
  • Blame
  • Circular arguments
  • Threats
  • May resort to using physical acts to intimidate, such as throwing objects or blocking an exit

It is important to note that verbal abuse is not the same as having an argument. Just because you and someone are in conflict or disagree on something doesn’t mean that anyone is abusing the other. Abuse is personal; it focuses on destroying the other’s character. Arguments are about certain subjects or topics and don’t involve personal attacks.

Harmful Effects Of Verbal Abuse

Though it is a very common type of abuse, many people dismiss it since it doesn’t leave any physical marks. But verbal abuse is psychologically damaging and can harm one’s mental health just as much as physical abuse. In fact, consistent verbal abuse can lead to anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, sleep or eating problems, irritability, anger, substance use, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide.

**If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7.

Verbal abuse can also affect the survivor’s way of thinking and behavior. Some examples include:

  • Difficulty making their own decisions
  • Believe that they are too sensitive, selfish, or that something is wrong with them
  • May feel unlovable or undesirable
  • Relive and ruminate over abusive experiences to figure out what they did wrong in the situation
  • Experience low self-esteem, confidence, or enthusiasm
  • Doubt their ability to communicate

It is clear that verbal abuse is a serious issue and needs more understanding and awareness. It can damage a person’s self-esteem and autonomy and leaves psychological scars that may take a long time to fade.

Final Thoughts

Verbal abuse, unfortunately, is very common and is widely dismissed as it doesn’t leave physical marks. After reading this article, you may even realize that you are a survivor of verbal abuse as well. If you have experienced verbal abuse, know that you have done nothing to deserve it. You can still find help by talking with a counselor or receiving support and help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).


Author Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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