Verbal Abuse Signs and Symptoms Cause Emotional Pain
First, let's define verbal abuse signs as different from verbal abuse symptoms. Verbal abuse signs are your observations about the person who is verbally abusive towards you. Things the verbal abuser does and says that affect your thinking, beliefs, or emotions. Verbal abuse symptoms are your observations about you. Symptoms live inside of you, so others may or may not notice them.
Second, if you are abused, you may find it difficult to "observe" your abuser and yourself. Observing implies "stating the facts" (which I'm sure you can do). But observing also implies interpreting those facts, and this is the difficult part for some abuse victims. You may second-guess your observations because the abuser consistently implants the idea in your mind that you cannot believe your own thoughts.
Disbelief of your own perception (a symptom of verbal abuse) sounds like you thinking, "Oh, she didn't mean it that way! Her favorite form of humor is sarcasm." or "He had another bad day; he told me that and I still pressed for conversation." So put aside excuse-making and self-blame and trust your gut instinct as you answer these questions.
Verbal Abuse Signs
- make derogatory comments about a group you belong to (gender, career, religion, etc.)? This comment might end with "I mean them, not you."
- make fun of or insult your ideas, behaviors, or beliefs?
- make negative comments about people, places or things that you love?
- say things that are almost true about you, but leave you wanting to defend yourself?
- say, "What? It was just a joke!" to dismiss a remark that offends you?
- ask you questions about something that just happened and reply to your answers, "Do you care to think about that and answer the question again?" or just sit there, staring at you, in a way that lets you know your answer wasn't "right"?
- engage you in long conversations about things on which you disagree until you reach the point of wanting to say, "Okay. Whatever. You're right!" Or insist that you repeat what they said and then, later, claim, "You agreed with me (then)!"
- somehow manage to physically back you into a corner or somewhere you cannot easily escape during intense conversations?
(see Examples of Verbal Abuse)
Verbal Abuse Symptoms
Do you feel...
- nervous when approaching them with certain topics?
- insulted because of their use of foul language, or does their use of foul language change the meaning of otherwise normal requests? (Such as, "Could you f*ck*ng tell me how much f*ck*ng longer it will be before you're ready for dinner?")
- a need to "tell on yourself" about innocent events in case the person hears about it later?
- misunderstood for the most part in your relationship?
Do you doubt...
- your sanity, intelligence, or communication skills because of difficulties relating to them?
- your memories when it comes to recalling conversations or events with the person because their take on it is so different from your own?
These questions relating to verbal abuse signs and verbal abuse symptoms describe how verbal abuse sneaks inside the framework of your relationship and poisons your thoughts with confusion and doubt.
Last Updated: 26 May 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD