Forms of Verbal Abuse: Insults and Their Delivery
Thursday, November 22 2018 Kristen Milstead
There are many different forms of verbal abuse, and one that is often the easiest to spot is an abuser's insults or put-downs. My ex-boyfriend did not hold back, issuing demeaning comments or labels meant to attack specific things about me, my life, or the people in it so that I would feel bad about myself and change my behavior in some way. His words were direct hits either on things I liked about myself or on things I was insecure about. Either way, however, he used his knowledge about me gained through the closeness to me earned early in the relationship to try to hurt me using insults as a form of verbal abuse ("Early Warning Signs of Verbal Abuse").
Looking back, I recognize now that not all of those insults were the same. The context of the insults or even just his demeanor would differ. Yet how he delivered the insults made a difference because these slightly different forms of verbal abuse had different results on me.
3 Forms of Verbal Abuse Insults
In terms of how my ex-boyfriend delivered verbally abusive comments, there were three forms of verbal abuse insults that I will refer to as hot, covert, and cold.
- The hot method: This type of verbal abuse was tied to his anger, usually when his jealousy got the best of him or he felt he had been disrespected in some way. These were some of the nastiest insults that came out of his mouth. When he was raging, I could expect to hear expletives hurled at me, along with all of the most common insults used in modern society for degrading women.
- The covert method: The verbal abuse in this category included the subtle jabs he'd throw out when he wanted to deny that he was being cruel. The insults would creep into conversations when we were around others, disguised as jokes, or sometimes in off-hand remarks when we were alone. If I brought it up, he would claim he was only kidding or that I was starting an argument by blowing things out of proportion.
- The cold method: These insults were delivered so calmly, it was as if he had never loved me at all. Sometimes he even had a smile on his face. The things he said to me during these times were often the cruelest of all. They felt calculated to hurt me, and I couldn't blame his out-of-control emotions -- because he wasn't showing any.
I have seen these methods before, but I had never stopped to categorize them. In my experience, some people primarily stick to one method and some people have the full range in their arsenal. Yet which types a person uses to verbally abuse others can say something about how they attempt to remain in control.
My ex-boyfriend obviously used all three, and I have realized that my responses to them said something about how they can be defeated. I have realized that my ex-boyfriend learned how to manipulate my reactions to all three of these methods to keep me from leaving the relationship. In the next three articles, I will examine each one separately and how abusers use insults as forms of verbal abuse to control their partners.