Verbal Abuse is an elusive type of abuse that happens in every day life. It’s easy to spot the extreme cases, like those depicted in movies, with name calling and screaming that continues long outside of an isolated incident. But, this kind of abuse lingers in a grey area, and lays a foundation for more violent forms of abuse. Verbal abuse can happen among friends, lovers and coworkers. Most of us tolerate the language in the beginning because we put effort into making our relationships work through difficulties, but if verbal abuse appears to be a behavioral pattern, it is best to separate yourself from the situation.
Since verbal abuse can be hard to identify here are 5 signs to recognize this negative behavior in another person.
1. Constant Criticism and Name Calling.
It feels like nothing you ever do is right. “That outfit is a little out of place. The meal’s seasoning was off. What will you do with all that stuff?You’re such a screw up.” It feels like your response to this criticism will make or break your relationship.
2. Easily Offended.
Since what you do most of the time is wrong, everything else you do is offensive. The other person takes your actions as personal and negative, and he/she lets you know. Most of the verbal abuse comes in surprise when you aren’t expecting it. All of a sudden you hear, “How could you second guess me and ask another person? Why did you assume I meant _____?”
3. Control Freak.
Someone who needs to be in constant control of the situation, puts you down in any case in order to gain control does it through verbal abuse. This case would be an alpha personality to the extreme. You always do what the other person says, when, how and now. The verbal abuse can be more subtle. I heard things like, “You don’t chop lettuce, you cut it. Make a decision to be do it well. I like natural nail polish colors, not red.” Even in these cases, the abuse wasn’t in the words themselves, but in the cruel delivery.
Everything is about him/her. This is the servant mentality in reverse. You’re here to always talk about me, meet my needs, serve my whims, and make me feel like a god/goddess. If you shift to you for a while, it is both wrong and offensive to the verbal abuser, and he/she will let you know how out of place you are. If you succumb to egotistical behavior, you aren’t a servant leader, but merely a servant.
When anything constructive does come out, it is always cruel and condescending. If you can’t tell if it’s honesty or cruelty, check your feelings. Does this talk make you feel guilty for being alive, insensitive, or selfish? Are you doubting your worth and losing self-esteem? People who erode your self-esteem, use it as a manipulative device to gain control, so they are free to abuse you as they please in order to elevate their own sense of self-esteem.
Your feelings are your guide to anything you experience in life, including abuse. How do you feel when you talk to the person? Do you feel loved even through conflict, or do you feel belittled and worthless? Can you clearly identify with the source of the abuse? If the person you talk to damages your sense of self-love and self-worth, this is a case when loving equals letting go. Respect yourself.
An abusive person will ALWAYS try to make you feel like you’re the one at fault for anything causing the abuse. Regardless of what you may have or have not done, there is a simple, respectful way to communicate and set boundaries. Diatribes of how wrong and out of place you were, are not only unnecessary, but are damaging and abusive.
The reason I know all this is because I was a victim of verbal abuse. The more I took it, the harder it was to get out of it because my self-esteem eroded. I’ve always been a pushover, so setting boundaries was almost impossible for me to do, which meant I allowed myself to take the abuse in return for the times I wasn’t being abused. Now that I”m out of that relationship, I can see the fault in my decision and am getting help of my own to grow my faith and trust in God, to forgive the other person and myself, to develop the strength and courage to set boundaries and to have better judgment of men in the first place so I never get involved with someone like that at all.
Beware of any verbal and emotional abuse around you, and take action to separate yourself from it because you can!