The Destructiveness of Verbal (Emotional) Abuse


There are various forms of abuse, but verbal abuse often gets ignored, and/or brushed aside as though it doesn’t really have any effects on the person who is abused.  The reason for this is that it doesn’t leave any physical scars.  There are many people who believe that if there isn’t a physical scar, it doesn’t matter.   Many women who suffer from verbal abuse are told “at least it isn’t physical”.  Since this is a common statement, it can make the victims of verbal abuse feel like it must not be happening – it’s all in their heads.

What is verbal abuse, and how can you decide if this a part of your relationship with your significant other?  Here is a definition:  “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”1

Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse or as “chronic verbal aggression” by researchers. People who suffer from emotional abuse tend to have very low self-esteem, show personality changes (such as becoming withdrawn) and may even become depressed, anxious or suicidal.


There are many long-term effects of verbal (emotional) abuse that can include:  chronic pain, migraine, headaches, indigestion, bowel issues and stress-related heart conditions.  The psychological effects can include anxiety, depression, PTSD, memory gap disorders, sleep and/or eating disorders, hyper-vigilance or extreme startle response, anger issues, addiction issues, irritability and/or anger issues, suicide or self-mutilation.


As you can see, being in a relationship where there is verbal (emotional) abuse has long-term effects.  The first thing you can do is figure out if you are in such a relationship.  The second thing you need to do is decide whether or not you want (need) to stay.  There should be no judgments on whether or not you decide to stay.  I understand that there are many considerations to be made.  If you’re dependent on the abuser, feel a need to stay; or whatever reason, this is your decision.  However, if you do decide to stay, being aware of the abuse is a step in the right direction.  You will no longer feel as if you’re “going crazy”, or wonder if you’re being “gas lighted”.  You will be aware, and can change your reactions to what is happening to you.

I’m leaving links in this post so that you can make yourself aware of what verbal (emotional) abuse is, what could be happening to your mental and physical health, and how you can care for yourself.  Be aware, be safe and be healthy.




The Effects of Constant Criticism


I live with two people who are free with their criticism.  Some of this criticism includes such things as the way the spices are organized to the way I do my laundry.  If this was constructive criticism I wouldn’t be so upset.  However, it is not.  This is done specifically to make me feel “less than”. It takes a toll on a person, and I decided to do a little research into exactly what kind of effects this has on the person being criticized. One notable effect is that being constantly criticized can really affect your self-esteem and sense of self-worth.  This is true, since after I’ve been criticized I really feel sick, whether it’s a headache, upset stomach, or both.  Then I find that in the days following such an attack I just want to curl up in my bed, hide under the covers and do nothing.  It takes every ounce of energy I’ve got to continue on my path to change.


When I looked up information on this subject, there was a lot of information regarding parents being overly critical of their children.   My parents were overly critical.  If I got a score of 100% correct, I was asked why I didn’t get 101%. When I graduated college with a double Major in four years, my Mother was upset that I didn’t also have a Minor.  My achievements were not recognized, only my “faults”.

So, I’m now struggling with this issue in my life, and either the attacks are getting worse, or I’m not dealing with the after-effects as well as in the past.  Being told to grow a thicker skin is not helpful, and not something I’d recommend to other people.  However, I try to look at the problems of the person who is attacking me.  As far as I’m concerned, the only reason they are attacking me has to do with them, not me.  If the criticism is valid, I look for the truths in it.  However, when the criticism is generally about how I do something, or say something, or in some cases just the very act of my being is the object of the criticism, then I try to remember that it’s not valid.   So, look into the critical statements, see if it’s valid and if it isn’t , consider the source.



Believing You Are Important



This is a tough subject for me. I was raised in such a way that I had little to no self-confidence or belief in myself. I was the one who at a young age not only shoveled my driveway and sidewalk by myself, but the elderly neighbor who lived across the street’s driveway and sidewalk. You would have thought she would have been happy that I shoveled for no compensation, however she would call and complain when I took “too long” to finish my own driveway and sidewalk. My Mother had a bad back, my sister had scoliosis and was in a back brace and my Dad was at work. My parents were perfectionists, so whatever I did it was just not good enough, whether it was school related or housework related. I grew up with the knowledge that whatever I did it was going to fall short. As an example, if I got a 100 on a test, my Father’s response was “Why didn’t you get 101?” This was not a jokey comment, but the only comment. When I graduated from college with two majors (B.A. and B.S.) in 4 years, they were upset that I hadn’t declared a minor.


It really seems ridiculous that such a thing can follow you around for a lifetime, however I do know that I’m not alone. Many people have been influenced by such things, and these feelings unfortunately can last a lifetime. When I was working with the elderly I was shocked at how many people would bring up feelings like inadequacy, or low self-esteem – and these people were in their 80’s and 90’s. They had been battling these feelings all their lives. Most of them had lived full lives and accomplished much. But they still had low self-esteem. This was one of the saddest parts of my life. People had lived so long, done so much, yet truly felt that they weren’t worth anything.


If you, too feel this way, please find some Affirmations. Say them to yourself over and over as many times a day as you can. Please, don’t hit your 80’s and 90’s feeling terribly about yourself. It only hurts you.