Verbal and Physical Abuse Often Go Hand-in-Hand
Verbal and physical abuse tag team abuse victims. In a relationship, verbal abuse and physical abuse work well together because verbal abuse is versatile! Using verbal abuse techniques, an abuser can tell you they love you and then hate you and then hide the hate with loving words. The victim of verbal abuse must decide which feeling to believe, and a practiced abuser knows how to almost guarantee their victim will cling to the love.
A stranger does not need verbal abuse to commit a physical assault, although they may use it as an intimidation tool. But an intimate partner must implement verbal abuse before and after physical violence or their power over the victim will disappear. Verbal and physical abuse must coexist in an abusive relationship – the victim could easily leave a physically abusive partner if brainwashing and coercive language were not a part of the package.
On the flip side, verbal abuse doesn't need physical violence to be effective. It takes time to gain enough control over someone to make sure they will not leave after a physically abusive event. Verbal abuse tactics are the easiest way to implement domestic abuse without the victim noticing it. Tragedy occurs when the abuser feels that the verbal abuse is no longer working. The abuser's anger and fear of being unable to control the victim erupts in physical violence. All types of verbal abuse are red flags foretelling physical violence.
Verbal and Physical Abuse Compared
Physical abuse affects the victim's body in some way. If the abuser physically abuses you, she or he will:
- Cut, stab
- Hit, punch, kick
- Bite, scratch
- Push, pull
- Grab or restrain in any way (block exits, lock doors, drive to unfamiliar or dangerous places, use Taser or mace, etc.)
- Deprive of sleep or food and water
Verbal abuse negatively affects the victim's thoughts and emotions. You cannot see this abuse and, of course, it has no visible effects unless it continues for a long time. Unlike physical abuse, verbal abuse uses deception and runs the gamut from loving words to hateful ones. Verbal abuse attacks are as punishing to the victim's psyche as physical violence is to their body. After verbal and physical abuse, the abuser will say things like:
- "If I didn't love you, I wouldn't care where you spent your time."
- "I don't blame you if you leave. I'm always screwing things up."
- "It's your fault I act this way! I know you want to hurt me!"
- "I can't control myself when I feel like you don't love me!"
- "I love you! I'm sorry! Let me get a cloth for your bloody nose."
After the verbal and physical abuse, the perpetrator uses verbal abuse again to take advantage of the victim's shattered and shocked emotions. The abuser begs for forgiveness and proclaims eternal love, plays to the victim's sympathies, or blames the victim for the attack. Verbal and physical abuse works together to reinforce the faulty connection between abuser and victim over and over again.
Last Updated: 26 May 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD