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The Signs of Verbal Abuse

The signs of verbal abuse are usually invisible to the world outside of your family. Verbal, emotional and mental abuse eats you alive from the inside out. Abuse can do heavy mental damage and cause mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and PTSD. Those illnesses have visible symptoms, but after developing the illness, no one but your closest friends may notice. (If you still have friends after being isolated!)

So, the signs of verbal abuse are often felt instead of seen.

The Abuser Knows Some Signs of Verbal Abuse

To stop verbal abuse, you must recognize the signs of verbal abuse. Learn more about the impact and signs of verbal abuse. Save yourself. Read this.The abuser knows that some things you say or do in public could give away what he does at home. Abusers are very conscious of what they do to you. If they didn’t know what they did, abusers would fix their words and behaviors. Especially after you point them out. Healthy people don’t want to hurt others. Hurting others is how abusers survive.

Because the abuser knows what he’s doing, your partner expects you to be silent about the problems you have at home. Abusers want to project the happy family image. If you appear unhappy or talk about why you’re unhappy with outsiders, the abuser gets embarrassed (and mad at you).

Many, if not most, controlling people have an “adoring public.” People at church, work, PTA, in the neighborhood and in the community at large may think your abuser is the bees knees. The abuser often uses his stature in society as a means to further control and isolate you.

Who would believe you if you told about how he acts at home? If you thought, “No one” then your abuser has effectively isolated you to the point of despondency.

Your abuser knows some of the signs of verbal abuse, so you are not allowed to show them. Outside of the house you’re expected to be happy. To be a good parent. To have beautiful, smart, popular children. The abuser expects to see you happy because if you aren’t, people may wonder about the abuser. We can’t have that, now can we?

Symptoms and Signs of Verbal Abuse

The thoughts and feelings victims of abuse often feel are cumulative, built on doubt and humiliation over time. Verbal abuse is sneaky, hidden in the words of someone who says he loves you. It takes a while, sometimes a long while, for victims to notice how they’ve changed into a traumatized and pained shadow of their former selves.

There are some common symptoms and signs of verbal abuse that victims share. They’re internal and unseen by any outsider the abuser brings near his happy family.

  • You feel as if you are paraded about like a silent trophy when you attend group functions for the abuser’s work or activities. You’re afraid to say much of anything while out for fear of retribution for saying the wrong thing.
  • You distrust your ability to make sound decisions for yourself or family; you go along with your abuser’s poor decisions without much resistance.
  • You feel uneasy or anxious much of the time; you may jump at small recognizable sounds or feel your heart pounding for no understandable reason.
  • You do not get excited over much of anything; if you are excited over a positive event, then that excitement doesn’t last long because you begin to wonder how to present the news to your abuser in order to get the best possible reaction from him.
  • You think that you are crazy; you feel that you need professional help to overcome your problems.
  • Your internal voices are critical, judgmental, overpowering at times, and abusive; you hear the abusive words and phrases he speaks to you in your own internal dialogue.
  • You keep telling yourself it will be better when he retires, the children are grown, he gets that promotion, he finishes that project, after lunch, … . You constantly wait for the good times.
  • You believe that one day your abuser will realize how good of a spouse you’ve been and will be sorry; the abuser will do a complete 180 culminating in his admiration and respect for you. This belief is hard to shake because of the nice times in which your abuser stops his abusive behaviors long enough to allow you to think “It’s different this time” (a.k.a. the honeymoon period).

Signs of Verbal Abuse Change Into Symptoms of Disease

No one in this world can know what you think or feel unless you tell them (telling your abuser doesn’t count – he doesn’t care). If you recognized yourself in the list of signs of verbal abuse, then it is up to you to change your thinking. What you think is killing you.

If you continue living in abuse, you will stress your body and mind in ways so twisted that you no longer see his abuse as stressful. Abuse becomes normal.

Your abuser doesn’t have to work as hard to control you when you are preoccupied with thinking that you are good for nothing, not abused, and not under stress. If your abuser succeeds in turning your thoughts around to the point where you no longer blame him but instead blame yourself, then his work is a whole lot easier.

Chronic stress caused by verbal abuse or any kind of abuse can lead to or cause a number of physical diseases:

  • Heart problems
  • Immune system deficiencies
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Stomach issues
  • Sexual and reproductive problems
  • Lung troubles
  • Skin/Complexion issues

The signs of verbal abuse can lead to disease, physical and mental, that could kill you. It’s your choice whether you allow that to happen or not. Your thinking patterns feed your disease, so the best thing to do is change what you think.

You cannot change your abuser, you can only change yourself.

How Do I Stop the Verbal Abuse? (Part 1)
Reach Out – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 2)
Educate Yourself – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 3)
Self Reliance – How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 4)
Develop an Exit Strategy And Safety Plan (Part 5)
The Signs of Verbal Abuse (Part 6)

You can find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Amazon Authors, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.

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57 Responses to The Signs of Verbal Abuse

  1. LostSelf says:

    Hello I took the courage to post my comment too after all the stories I have read which I can relate to. I am 29 and a lawyer, I am educated presentable and engaged to my verbally abusing fiancé for 1,5 months, to get married in 4 months. Signs were there all along , he was always an introvert, uptight, poker face person with no light moments. It felt wrong from the very beginning but the whole handsome successful serious and relationship material profile kept me going . I grew up in an unhealthy environment myself, witnessing my parents constant name calling and fighting from as far as I can remember . Maybe this has changed my perception of what is acceptable in a relationship.
    The initial signs of verbal abuse did not take long to appear. Constant criticism, name calling , belittling , trying to make me feel worthless without him, constant accusations about my family, trying to make me feel helpless and dependent on him although I was earning as much as he did , wrongful accusations to the point I was thinking he was talking about someone else (bad with money, bad with housework, not caring about the house, not sharing common expenses which were completely untrue) . He also had a very weird relationship with his mother (he has had a hard childhood, being abandoned by his father with minimum contact and grew up as an only child by an insecure, psychotic mother who has never recovered from her divorce) with constant guilt being used by her towards him and us as a couple due to the fact that she lives alone in another town and we had to visit her every Saturday which used to cause me tremendous pressure and stress, not being able to decide for my own schedule on weekends.
    Our relationship was always hard to cope with, constant efforts, fighting to the point where I was embarrassed from neighbors to see me afterwards , it was generally hard. Walking on eggshells was my life , and imagine I was a strong , self sustained and educated woman . I can’t understand why did I ever put up with this . Being with him was simply hard .
    My abuser had the image of mr perfect to our close environment. Loving , caring , always helping with the housework, being relationship material. Even in private he was very loving with me when he wanted . I was even told by many female friends that they would wish for their husband to be more like mine. He would simply be another person in public . When I finally broke my silence and confided the details to friends and family they thought I was referring to someone else. Another thing that made me dispute my judgment even more .
    We got engaged last year and he forbid me to discuss anything about the wedding till when he said so. Two months later he hurt me with his words saying he despised me , I made him sick etc until one day we had an argument about something stupid and he asked for the ring back and kicked me out of the house . Living with him under the same roof was a constant struggle : not only did I have to put up with his bad character , I was kicked out of the house millions of times until my insecurities took a toll on me. I left him on that day and he begged me to go back . I did go then (I was only engaged for 2 months) but was emotionally numb, full of hate and disappointment, unable to try for this relationship. Still I couldn’t go. This feeling never went away .
    A few months earlier , I decided to change into a new job. The impact on my psychology was rather bad as I am terrible with change and I was slightly depressed for a few months . He decided he could not stand me , he threatened to leave me and he could not be around me because of all the stress I created . He decided to sleep on the couch for 2 months as he couldn’t be anywhere near me. Let alone the constant name calling on how unworthy I was for feeling this way , how I messed up his life and our lives by being depressed about my work and how he could not tolerate me. We finally had a huge fight for an irrelevant reason where he threw all of my belongings in the corridor and started screaming at me to get out, threw me a whole bottle of water in my face , tried to lock me in the room and was pushing me hard against the wall ( I am very petite and he is a very big guy- that didn’t stop him from laying his hands on me) . I didn’t leave but couldn’t live with myself after all this . Not only did he give me zero support when I needed him but he also made things harder for me . His ability to make a person feel better is simply non existent. A few days later he demonstrated similar behaviors when I Complained because he was very rude on me on the phone (told me to ‘kick my brain off’ because I was busy while talking to him and he lost patience) so he told me to go to the room as he couldn’t stand me and that he would make me sleep on the couch . I decided to leave him once again. I was feeling very wrong to have someone treat me this way. I came to my parents house for a few days and he begged me to go back . I did go back just to find out his only intention was to threaten me to quit my job or else he would abandon me. He even had his bags packed when I went to ‘discuss’. I absolutely denied , he implied that the root to all of our problems was my job and that he couldn’t be with me while I was there. He said he would support me but I simply said no (been working since 21 , fully self sustained and I was not willing to be financially dependent from a guy who said I was not contributing when I was paying half the rent and expenses plus a guy that kicked me out practically every month). He threatened and insisted for 5 long hours where he got me to a point where I couldn’t wait for him to leave . He did leave but that of course wasn’t the end to my problems . Constant texting , psychological pressure while I was at work and many more , got me to a point where I could not operate and I was told off by my superior for not meeting up his expectations at work. I took him back and I still don’t know why. He clearly can’t change and I clearly can’t try. Of course , we had another fight after that because of the fact that he decided he doesn’t like my parents as they turned their back against me when I was having job troubles . That isn’t true . I felt I couldn’t take any longer . Out final fight was all I could take and all to make me realize he could never change . We were having all this trouble due to his behavior (I do take responsibility for my reactions for work) and he still insisted on creating more problems when he promised he would change . He even said he was willing to try counselling (promised the same last year but didn’t go) but I really don’t thing he is a position to understand what he is doing wrong let alone fix it . I am also powerless to try . I am drained . I do have feelings but he killed most of them. I am now at my parents once again and I told him I am calling the wedding off and want us to separate. He doesn’t accept it; he says all is my fault for not trying to leave things behind me since last year. Truth is I was so angry and hurt I couldn’t. He thinks this is no excuse. I am in a dead end . I have his deadlines to cope with (have to give a final answer by tomorrow) plus the wedding stress (meaning call it off) and I cannot even trust myself anymore that I can make the right decision. I feel that I have lost faith in myself so much that I can’t even decide what’s best for me. Guilt is also an issue for not trying since last year . I do know I deserve better . I earn a very good salary, I am pretty, young educated and a good person and I really can’t figure out what is wrong with me and why can’t I just stop this sick and toxic relationship. A part of me blames myself for not trying and another part simply screams get away, it will get worse. Help!!!!!

  2. BeenThere says:

    Lost Self,

    You deserve a life of happiness. The situation you described sounds like a nightmare.

    I was very recently in your shoes. Masters degree, very successful career. 29 years old and engaged to an abusive man. But I married him. I knew his anger, violence, his abuse. But I did it anyway because I believed he could change. I thought he just needed love, support, and stability. I thought I could give that to him.

    I am in the middle of a divorce right now. Barely married a year, but there was nothing I could do. He wired that way, and it only got worse.

    Save yourself. Be strong. Don’t let the guilt cloud your judgement. There is a feeling in the gut, do you have that? Gnawing and ugh, just awful. Knowing you are in over your head. Knowing it’s not the way you’re supposed to be treated. Listen to it. Save yourself. And above all, don’t waste the pretty.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  3. Jp says:

    Wonderful insightful information. Obviously you are a skilled professional. As a colleague, I wonder if you might consider your editorial comments “Both men and women can be abusers………do not take any gender references….. In the context of abused males,
    like myself, reading your helpful article. You may want to consider if your subconscious feelings might have influenced your (non)-decision to avoid having to make that comment by simply writing he(she) in the text. Whatever your motivation, I hope it is helpful to realize I, for one, did feel offended as a male, despite your disclaimer.

  4. Jp, I’m sorry you were offended, but take into consideration this perspective:

    I am a female who was abused by a male. When I write about my situation, I will use the pronouns as needed to be truthful. In general, because more women die at the hands of their partners than men do, I speak of male abusers, female victims. I cannot accommodate everyone’s situations (gay, lesbian, heterosexual male, transgender relationships). It’s a freaking pronoun nightmare. Hence, the disclaimer.

    My subconscious is as clear as day. And if it weren’t, does that make the article any less useful to you?

    So, as I’ve asked men to do for a long time now: If you see the pronoun “she” just change it in your mind to say “he.” After all, women have “understood” that the masculine form of words speak to and for us, too. I’m not offended by all the “he’s” and “his’s” I read every day, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask for you to infer a masculine pronoun.

  5. Kevin says:

    I am a verbal abuser. My marriage is in tatters. I’ve read the comments above, and the scenarios sound like me to a tee. To begin this conversation I’m not providing excuses but to tell the story there has to be a beginning. Through out my childhood my parents especially my mother called me a cocksucker, faggot, piece of shit, I hate your fucking guts, I wish you were dead to name a few. My father on the otherhand had an extreme temper, and painfully physical. I am not to those extremes with name calling but destroy my wife with sarcasm, petty jealousy, and non communication out of fear of my previous explosions. I find it impossible to be happy for someone else’s success or relationships out of fear of losing. That is completely ridiculous; it’s just ego, and some idiotic sense of pride. I do not want to be this way any more. I’m seeing a psychologist & pychiatrist which slows the incidents occurrences but really only stems the tide. No one deserves to deal with this type of abuse. Words as they say cut deeper than a knife. My entire life has been a battle between self worth, and loathing. Wake up, and make a change. Don’t be a coward like me!

  6. I don’t think you’re a coward, Kevin. You’re getting help. You know where the behavior stems from. You can work on recognizing your triggers and develop alternate responses to them. Plus, you commented on this blog. You are not a coward.

  7. Angie leon says:

    Hello ny name is Angie im 43 years okd and im going through to much and im not being underestood. I go through verbal abuse and i need help on how to get out of it. If anyone that can help me or if i can speak to anyone please email me i need to get help to get out of this world of junk

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