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 People who suffer from emotional abuse tend to have very low self-esteem, show personality changes (such as becoming withdrawn) and may even become depressed, anxious or suicidal.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.




Emotional and Verbal Abuse

No one can “give” you self-esteem, but the opposite is also true. Other people can batter your self-esteem into pieces. This is something that takes time to do, with carefully chosen words. But, it can be done. Physical abuse is ugly and everyone can see it. It is something that can be documented. Verbal and emotional abuse is never seen, and seldom heard. This abuse is hidden and often you don’t realize what it is until too much time has passed. By the time you understand what has been done to you, you either have little self-esteem left, or you think you are the crazy one. An abuser is often charming to everyone else, but nasty to you in private. This makes you question your own sanity.
Thinking you’re the one with the problem is incredibly easy for a lot of women. We’ve been trained to “fix” relationships, so we may spend a lot of time looking for flaws in ourselves in order to “fix” the relationship with an emotional/verbal abuser. Unfortunately, if you’ve been told something often enough, by someone you love, even though you may wonder if it is true, you will still believe it.
My advice is that if someone keeps telling you something about your flaws, that on a gut level you know sounds wrong, ask someone else. Listen to what that person says, and take their advice. Don’t take anything someone who you suspect is an abuser tells you at face value. Think about it, listen to your intuition and speak to another person. Then decide. You likely are not the crazy one.
Patricia Evans has written a good book about this subject that I suggest anyone who thinks they may be in such a relationship should read: The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond.

Earning Ability and Worthlessness

Often-times people judge others on their earning ability. Saying that those who make less, are of less value. This is happening to me on a daily basis. I am a highly educated women, who stayed home to raise, and home school her children. My kids went to school to grades five and two. Then due to a lack of textbooks in our local school, I home schooled each child until high school. They went to a smallish high school that had an excellent program. My kids didn’t “fall through the cracks”. They had a good education, and my daughter has chosen to go on to college. My son is working in a good career where he both earns good money and will be able to move up the chain of command, so to speak.
However, my earning ability, or lack thereof, is making my life difficult. I wrote before about how I worked with the elderly. I job that although important, and of social value, isn’t well paid. Someone close to me has decided that since my earning ability is low, I have no value as a human being. What I do other than work, also has little or no value. This is where the stress that I have been dealing with is coming from. I have done other things with my time. I’ve raised two children. I’ve written numerous short stories and an entire novel. However, because I haven’t made any money from them, they have no value. Just like me.
I thought that if I tried to transform my life by becoming more healthy, fit and happy within myself, I would be able to handle the stress of someone else finding me worthless. This is the point where I hit my head against the wall. Every time I try to transform. It seems as though I get to a certain point, and this person decides to make sure I am reminded over and over again exactly how valueless I am. In the past I’ve let this person steamroll over me, while I once again cringed in the corner, believing myself to be valueless.
Not this time. This time I am going to go on with my transformation. It’s been 28 years of this, and that’s too long to time to continue down the same path. No more.