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 People who suffer from emotional abuse tend to have very low self-esteem, show personality changes (such as becoming withdrawn) and may even become depressed, anxious or suicidal.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