In a toxic relationship, verbal abuse is a kind of interpersonal violence that is more calculating and insidious than it seems. It is a means of maintaining power and control over another in a relationship. This kind of treatment causes the person on the receiving end to question themselves, wondering if the abuser is overreacting, or may blame themselves.
When verbal abuse takes place, it usually happens in an environment where no one can intervene to call foul. This private abuse can become a regular form of communication within a relationship. A victim of verbal abuse may feel isolated since this disrespectful treatment chips away at one’s self-esteem. The isolation makes it difficult to reach out to a friend. Many women find themselves rationalizing the abuse in their heads, not realizing how criticisms, put-downs, and accusatory behavior creates an unhealthy form of communication. Those who suffer this treatment can become distressed or feel mentally exhausted.
Here are some signs:
- Accusations and name-calling. This type of verbal abuse is probably the easiest one to recognize. This includes being called names and/or being shouted at regularly.
- Sarcasm and condescension. When a person uses sarcasm, it is condescending and offensive to the recipient. This can become a regular part of the relationship. This includes being the target of the abuser’s jokes.
- Controlling through manipulation. This form of verbal abuse involves the abuser continuously pushing the other to do and say what they are not always comfortable with. Manipulation can be subtle when the abuser twists language to turn a situation around on the partner and assign blame.
- Constant Criticism. The person abused experiences frequent criticism and feels belittled. This is unhealthy, and over time, the partner feels worn down with a loss of self-esteem.
- Threats. Threats are used to frighten a partner or colleague. These threats can be expressed in a way that makes the abused person question if they are the reason for something the partner or colleague does.
- Accusations. Frequent accusations are a form of verbal abuse that comes from jealousy or assumptions of other’s intentions and motivations. If you are the target of allegations, you may start questioning yourself about being flawed in some way.
- Blame. This involves verbal projection onto the other, with the abuser hurling blame, rather than taking responsibility for their mistakes or actions. This projection often places blame onto the recipient, even for something they had nothing to do with.
Here are some ways to deal with it:
If you want to be certain you are in a toxic relationship, notice if you feel disempowered, always on edge, walking on eggshells. The first action is to be fully aware of the abuse. If your trusted friends and/or family are telling you that something is wrong, hear them out. You may have become numb to some of the abusive tactics. Others may observe or hear what is occurring more accurately. Empower yourself by setting boundaries and being honest about how verbal abuse triggers your feelings. Consider leaving the relationship. Reach out for help from a professional if necessary. Or see someone from human resources if this is a problem at work.
The insights in this article are the opinion of the writer