The Effects of Verbal Abuse and How They Hurt
The effects of verbal abuse hurt me in both the short-term and long-term. Short-term effects of verbal abuse were the sting of his words or suggestions and the long nights spent crying silently to myself, figuring out what I needed to do to make the relationship better. Long-term effects, for me, are posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. Some victims of abuse suffer dissociative identity disorder, too.
How does that happen? Why does a healthy person become a victim suffering from mental disorders?
Effects of Verbal Abuse Move In Slowly
In the beginning, the effects of verbal abuse are not readily apparent; victims notice something is different, but it's hard to explain the problem. When friends ask why you're down, you may say, "We're going through a rough patch in our relationship." And when friends ask you to explain the rough patch, you'll say something like, "I don't know...he is so moody and it's hard to communicate" or "Beats me...Women. [eye roll]".
Victims of the effects of verbal abuse are lucky if they connect their feelings to domestic violence early in the relationship, but that rarely happens. The victim often ignores or misinterprets both the abuse and the effects of verbal abuse because verbal abuse itself throws you off-balance and makes you unsure of yourself. Those feelings are caused by verbal mind-games like brainwashing and gaslighting.
Later Effects of Verbal Abuse
Later on, the effects of verbal abuse either mimic or become depression and anxiety. I believe that eventually, science will show that abuse forces the brain's neural pathways to create deep ruts of depression and anxiety. (Don't go telling your friends that - it's just my theory.) For now, all we know is many victims of abuse end up with depression and/or anxiety and worse.
To complicate matters, after a person feels off-balance enough to seek treatment, the symptoms of abuse (depression/anxiety/etc.) tend to be treated instead of dealing with the cause (the abuse). In my experience, when doctors figured out that I was depressed, their questions stopped. They treated the depression without probing further to discover the cause. How could depression go away when I lived with the dis-ease (abuse) that causes it?
The Effects of Verbal Abuse List
Ms. Patricia Evans gives a list of the effects of verbal abuse in her book The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to recognize it and how to respond. The following list does not include all of the effects of verbal abuse that Ms. Evans listed in her book. I assume that most of the effects of verbal abuse she lists would affect men too.*
The effects of verbal abuse can cause a victim to:
- distrust her spontaneity
- suffer a loss of enthusiasm
- live in a perpetually in a ready, on-guard state
- wonder about how she is coming across
- think and feel that something is wrong with her
- soul-search and review incidents in hope of determining what went wrong (see Ruminating Can Harm Your Mental Health Recovery)
- wonder why she isn't happier and feels that she should be
- sense that time is passing and she is missing something
- tend to live in the future -- "Everything will be great when/after," etc.
Those effects of verbal abuse illustrate symptoms similar to depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. The chicken and the egg question does not apply when it comes to domestic violence and abuse. The abuse comes first. Then the mentally healthy victim succumbs to insecurity and mental disorders. If the abuse victim-to-be is mentally unwell when meeting the abuser, the abuse will worsen the mental illness or create new illnesses.
Your best defense against abuse is to take care of yourself physically and mentally and be aware of the signs of an abuser.
*If you're a man and want to explain how males feel differently as compared to Ms. Evans's list, please comment.
*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so please do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.
Holly, K. (2015, January 19). The Effects of Verbal Abuse and How They Hurt, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2015/01/the-effects-of-verbal-abuse-and-how-they-hurt-me
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
Saddie, can you reach out to family and friends and focus some of your time on them? To remind yourself of the people in your life that love you. Can you reach out to a therapist? I credit going to see a therapist as something that helped me overcome great hurdles in my life. Therapy can be life-changing. You deserve to be loved and respected and cherished. This does not have to be your life.
Here's a link to some important resources, please check them out:
<a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/suicide/suicide-suicidal-thoughts-and-behaviors-toc/" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">Suicide, Information, Resources, and Support</a>
<a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2017/11/verbal-abuse-reasons-to-leave/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Reasons to leave a verbally abusive relationship</a>
Thank you for reaching out Saddie, please feel free to do so anytime. Hang in there. -Emily
Again, I'm so very sorry for your difficult situation. Please feel free to reach out to us anytime. -Emily
Do you think I should tell her that what she is doing is verbal abuse ? I'd really like this to be resolved and ending with us still together. She can be a very fun woman to be around. When we are with friends she really has a different behavior.
Thank you for your comment. I agree that verbal abuse is something that can be difficult to define. It tends to be more of a sliding scale than a definitive line between "abusive behavior" and "non-abusive behavior", though there are certain signs and symptoms to watch out for.
I think the important detail in all of this is not whether she is verbally abusive, but rather how she makes you feel. It's easy to label ourselves as "too sensitive" or "too insecure" without placing any responsibility with the person who is making us feel this way, but this is rarely productive. My guess is that anyone in your situation would feel insecure if their partner was constantly trying to change them and telling them they're not good enough. I was in a relationship similar to the one you're describing, but I didn't realize I was being verbally abused at the time.
You definitely need to talk to your girlfriend and explain your feelings. You will need to be direct so she doesn't just dismiss your concerns like usual. Tell her that her behavior is making you unhappy, and that although you want to be with her, you're not prepared to stay in the relationship unless she changes the way she treats you. If she doesn't want the relationship to end, she will have to sit up and listen.
You deserve better than to be treated this way, so stay strong and don't ignore your gut instinct. Good luck!
Believe it or not, you are completely separate from him, he does not define you. You have value and worth that has nothing to do with him, you are deserving of love and admiration. I think you've found yourself in a dangerous spot here, it sounds like this has gone on for some time now. I hope you very seriously consider seeking therapy and leaving. Your life does not have to be this way. You are capable of living a happy life, filled with love and laughter and genuine connections. Please continue reaching out. Thanks, Emily
lottery and it wouldn't be good enough. Nothing, I mean
nothing will ever be good enough because their past can't be fixed. Whatever went wrong in their youth is there forever with them. They're not like normal people who can overcome it and move on and realize they don't want to be like that. They're always fighting that person who treated them bad and you happen to be that person who gets to relive the horror over and over again. You are the perpetual punching bag. They never won the fight with their abuser, and in turn they're going to make sure you never win the fight against them. it's like ground hog day living with an abuser. It happens over and over again. You can count on it sure as the sun will come up. Don't feel you have to say you love them, it's not necessary. They are not lovable. They are monsters. I feel pity at times because they can't ever enjoy life, but love, hell no, because he doesn't really love you. We're just the whipping boy for all his petty grievances, even the ones that are so small that you have to laugh because they're so stupid. You're there to facilitate what they think they need. It's not love, believe me. You're the puppet and he pulls the strings. I read stories about couples who have normal give and take and support and I feel so sad because I can't have it with the psycho I live with. I envy friends who live what I see as normal lives where people get together and do things but I can't because I know at some point my psycho will ruin it, so I just stay away and do things by myself. It's all about self preservation. I'm just too weak and too much of a coward to walk away. Anyone seeing my psycho in action would think i have lost my mind sticking around. There's just barely enough good to keep me here, plus the thought of trying to start over at 55 with little family and no job is overwhelming. None of us should ever feel for 1 millisecond that any of this is our fault. We are whole, they are not and most likely never will be.
My abuse happens everyday but my husband will dress up his insults as "Jokes". If I don't give him what he wants (in bed) he will say " Well I guess I have to go out and find myself someone who will". He taunts me with female friends and women we both know saying stuff like "I wonder how so and so would be like in bed, I bet she isn't broken down all the time like you" or "I have to go find me a spare for when you're broken down". He will check out women in front on me and he lets me know hes doing it by pointing out the woman and saying "Look at the a$$ and boobs on that one not saggy and old like yours" (I am 32 by the way). I thought that if I just ignored it and didn't show him it bothers me then maybe he would get bored and stop, well 15 years later and he still does it every time we go out to see if he can get a rise out of me. Its embarrassing because he doesn't hide it he doesn't whisper and half the time these poor women see or hear him and give me this poor you face. When I do get mad about it he flips it on me and makes it about me and how I have trust issues.
He blames me for everything that has ever gone wrong in his life. If he lost his keys its because I moved them. If he has a bad stomach its because of my food, if the kids act out its because I sick as a parent.
He treats me like a slave or his mother because he can't do anything for himself. I have to make his meals for him and literally serve them to him. If I forget something or over look it I get called out for it. If I don't get the food for him he will either not eat or pout and get mad like a child. If I ask for help with something he totally ignores me until I get fed up and just do it myself yet gets mad at me and yells at me when I over do it and hurt myself. I have arthritis in my spine and when I do over do it (which is often) he doesn't help out with house work or meals instead he will have our 11 year old daughter and 6 year old son pick up the slack for him and help me to the stove to make the meals.
Everything I like is stupid. The music, movies, tv shows, sports, any views or opinions I have on any given topic is stupid and not worth listening to. If I am discussing something with him and ask him what I said he will say " I don't know I tuned you out because most of the stuff you talk about is useless, meaningless information that does not have anything to do with anything important so its not worth my time and effort to listen to you".
I am terrified to drive when he is in the car with me (which is all the time because he has a suspended license and I am now his personal chauffeur). If I don't drive the way he wants me to he will relentlessly and brutally yell, insult and call me every word in the book and reduce me to tears while I am driving to the point where I have to pull over to compose myself. He has done this in front of the kids and my parents.
When I confront him about his behavior he says "That's fine I will buy you and the kids a ticket and send you home to your parents, if you don't like it there's the door". He knows by telling me this it will shut me up because I have no where to go I don't have a job or make my own money, I am a stay at home mom with no family close by. I am totally depended on him. I am depressed, physically and mentally exhaust. I am walking on egg shells all the time wondering if I joke with him is he going to pitch a fit and get mad at me, if the house isn't perfect will I get yelled at. He has never laid a finger on me physically, what do I do? I am sick all the time and honestly I think its because of all this, maybe all this stress is being manifested into physical pain and ailments, is that even possible? Please any advice is welcomed.
This is a short response, but very sincere. Get some support and help as soon as you can. You do not deserve what he says and does to you. You're worth so much more.
I pray you've gotten away from him, i'm decades with mine!!
I cant respond much, its devastated me to read something so precise. God protect you and your babies.
It's hard cause I buy into something about me. Says I'm living in a fantasy because I can't accept his being "annoyed" as "human." I buy into his assessment that I'm too sensitive. Gets angry if I disagree and explain I get annoyed by how I feel he dismisses me when he won't discuss with me what to do about something he said he would take care of. Tells me to Google it - he can't be bothered. to me feels like being dissed.
If it's "human to get annoyed" then I'm not sure why my getting annoyed is worse than his, so much so that his rage feels justified. Feels like projecting because he says I never see my part then goes ballistic. Seems he's pretty darn sensitive himself to get that out of control.
I realize now I have bought into this "too sensitive" thing from my early childhood. My dad told me my mom was too sensitive and emotional and he didn't love her anymore. My whole family has always said that. So am I? I simply start believing that, and think maybe I am.
Bottom line, i just want a less grumbling partner and one who follows through and doesn't feel like I'm imposing on him when I ask a question he can't answer about some household thing. I want collaboration and a supportive interest in my needs.
rage is destructive. He will say I'm
Sorry" a day or two later but doesn't say what for, last time he just said "I'm sorry I'm so unhappy."
At face value when he's enraged he doesn't want me - hates me, calls me awful things, later says he's sorry (in a day or two). But then we both settle in and act if nothing happened. We kiss and hang out. Maddening.
But it now sits under my skin and I cannot ignore it.
He's promised to see a therapist and sees someone once or twice, but doesn't feel they are good, but doesn't invest in finding someone better.
I know I can't control him. I know I can only work on myself. But as long as there is a slight chance "if only I'd get better" or "make a change myself", that it could tilt things such that he wouldn't rage, I stay in it.
What the h is wrong with me - either truly that I am "in a fantasy" sick and messed up - or that I myself cannot find the courage to leave - either way I feel helpless. Bad feeling. Stuck and anxious.
First off, you are not "in a fantasy" or sick/messed up. Almost every abuser says those exact things. Mine told me I didn't understand the real world and that I was fu@#ed in the head. You'll find that theme in many stories of abuse you can find online.
The second choice, that you can't find the courage to leave, is less about courage and more about resolve. It takes courage to live with an explosive person - if you're praying for "courage" knock it off. You've got all you need.
It sounds to me that you're a very aware person who understands their partner's behavior is horrible. It seems that you're in the stage of giving him chances to improve. (I did the same thing - you aren't alone in this). I believe what helped me out of the mindset is the belief that "I'm sorry you've got it so hard, but I can't take anymore." And I left to save my mental health (and my life).
I got to the point of valuing my health after understanding abuse, learning I cannot control him (both of which you've done), and writing out proof of the abuse. There's something about seeing, in your own handwriting, the instances of abuse described on paper. Every time you enter a new incident, you'll see the others there, too. It works to prove to your emotions what your mind already knows. "This guy hurts me. I need better."
One tool I wish I had is a proper safety plan for the time I still lived with my ex. Go here: http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-stop-abuse/safety-planning/
Scroll to the bottom of the page and print out the safety plan. You can purchase it if you like workbooks, but it's free to print. I think it will help you realize you do have options. Life is rarely "either/or."
It is for victims still living with their abuser and is designed to (hopefully) show you there are options to living with your abuser and to give you the strength to leave.
Take a look at it - there's no fee if you download it at the bottom of the page.
And then download the safety plan at the bottom of this page: http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-stop-abuse/safety-planning/