7 Consequences of Verbal Abuse
Consequences of verbal abuse can creep up on anyone suffering abuse, causing severe and lasting effects. Verbal abuse in relationships begins slowly and then typically gets progressively worse, the abuse serving as a catalyst for dangerous psychological consequences for the victim. A verbally abusive relationship can cause a person to become plagued with depression, mood swings, lowered self-esteem, misplaced guilt, isolation, loneliness, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although these negative side effects may outlast the relationship itself, they are not generally permanent and can be treated and overcome completely. Continue reading to find out more about these seven consequences of verbal abuse.
7 Consequences of Verbal Abuse
- Depression -- Depression is an understandable consequence of verbal abuse, especially prolonged abuse. Common symptoms associated with depression include sadness, hopelessness, feelings of emptiness, trouble sleeping or even oversleeping. You may find yourself unhappy doing things you once loved or feeling like things will never get better. Verbal abuse can cause depression for the victim after weeks, months, or even years of feeling worn down by the abuser.
- Mood swings -- Mood swings are a pretty standard psychological side effect for people involved in toxic relationships. Abusive relationships work in cycles that entail honeymoon periods in which everyone feels happy and in love and then a build-up of tension that leads to an abusive episode, and then a period of remorse that leads back to the honeymoon phase. Naturally, all of those ups and downs can have a person feeling mood swings. Mood swings can be chaotic and confusing, causing a person to feel like he or she can't trust his or her own judgment or feelings.
- Lowered self-esteem -- Victims of verbal abuse have likely been called terrible names, belittled, degraded, blamed for things they feel they had no control over, screamed at, and bullied in ways that would take a major blow to anyone's self-esteem and ability to value one's self. Perpetual hyper-criticism can work like an icepick, picking away until there's nothing but pieces everywhere. The stress of the criticism can cause a person to feel like he or she cannot perform simple tasks effectively and lead to feelings of worthlessness.
- Misplaced guilt -- Most people who have suffered verbal abuse have heard again and again that everything that goes wrong -- and I mean everything, including the price of the tea in China -- is all their fault. Being told repeatedly that you are at fault and to blame for anything negative that happens in your partner's life as well as the abuse you are suffering is at first, seemingly ludicrous but eventually, it is accepted as an obvious truth like the sky is blue and grass is green. This misplaced guilt will likely originate within the confines of the relationship but then seep out into other areas of the victim's life -- other relationships, work, his or her own misfortunes or random misfortunes of the people in his or her life, etc.
- Isolation -- Verbal abuse in relationships often leads to friend and family estrangement, alienating the victim from loved ones. First, you may choose to spend all of your time with your new partner because you're happy and in love, then you may start to pull away from social gatherings because your partner doesn't like certain friends or family members, then you find yourself defensive of or embarrassed by the relationship you've found yourself in, so you isolate yourself. Isolating yourself is a progressive pattern that begins with an ignored call or missed family event here or there, but then one day, you realize you haven't seen your mom in months and your best friend has found a new best friend.
- Loneliness -- Loneliness is different from isolation because a person can feel lonely even in the company of others. To feel lonely can be to feel alone, misunderstood, uncared for, without friends or love, without companionship, etc. It is entirely possible to feel lonely while sitting right next to your partner, or falling asleep next to someone at night because loneliness is a mental symptom rather than a physical state of being. Loneliness is a common consequence of verbal abuse because the victim feels rejected and cast-aside from his or her partner as well as isolated from friends and family.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- Posttraumatic stress disorder is a dangerous and understandable consequence of verbal abuse. Being beaten down by verbal abuse is extremely traumatic. The trauma of abuse carries over into new relationships, romantic, platonic, professional, and familial because the trauma comes from the subsequent communication issues, self-doubt, and fear of rejection. You may find yourself extremely sensitive to a tense conversation or really hard on yourself for a minor faux-pas at work. Disorders like PTSD can pop up unexpectedly, making you feel mentally unstable over things you think you should have a handle on.
These seven consequences of verbal abuse in relationships are devastating to a person's quality of life. It can be difficult to move on and find happiness when you're still carrying around these negative side effects of toxic love. The good news is, none of these consequences of verbal abuse have to be permanent. With an investment in your own mental wellbeing, either through therapy, self-help reading, reaching out to close friends and family, or other options for recovery, you can overcome these painful symptoms of a relationship gone wrong.
Sullivan, E. (2018, July 17). 7 Consequences of Verbal Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2018/7/7-consequences-of-verbal-abuse
Author: Emily J. Sullivan
Man. I just discovered this place and read this article and it describes me to a T. I spent 7 years with a verbally, financially, physically abusive narcissist, lived with him for 2 years, and those last 2 years especially were a living hell. I sometimes had to sleep in my car in the parking lot just to have a moment of peace. I sacrificed my career, all of my friends, my looks, my dignity, and almost my life. He also physically abused me sometimes..until that very last time. He threw me all around the apartment, slapping and kicked me, and pushed me backwards over the couch. My kids also witnessed the verbal abuse and saw the bruises many times. When I went to the cops, I snuck out and he was texting me the whole time saying he was ill and need me to take him to the doctor.. (which was a lie) and I didn’t care about him for not responding, letting him suffer. When the officer came to arrest him, he LIED saying I hit him and he had to defend himself. The cop knew he was lying because I told him my boyfriend would threaten that to me every time he hit me, and threatened to even go as far as injure himself so we’d BOTH get arrested! Luckily he had no injuries, because he didn’t know I was at the police station and of course I never touched him, not even to defend myself. Anyways, he moved out and we went to court, but I subsequently dropped the charges. I saw him after a couple months and he cried that he realized what he did to me and the kids and wanted a chance to prove himself. Stupid me.. I said to myself, if he can really prove himself for a year, I’d give him another chance. Well it’s been about 4 1/2 months and after only a few weeks he slowly started back with the verbal abuse. Just a few days ago he got up in my face intimidating me and pushed my head (not hard, but it was enough to scare me) I’m in therapy right now, but honestly, despite the fact that my therapist cares and all that, I think I need someone to talk to who is more specialized in domestic and especially narcissistic abuse. I know it’s up to me to cut him out completely, but I’m still struggling with doing so. I would really appreciate any resources and pray someone will read this and can PLEASE RESPOND. I live in Mount Prospect, Illinois. I literally have NO friends left and can’t really talk about this with the few family members I still do talk to (with his big objection, of course. He complains that I shouldn’t even have my own father in my house because my dad doesn’t like him anymore after what he did.) He even started complaining again about me spending time with my children (11 and 13), saying I “kiss their butts” but don’t care about him. What the heck is wrong with me?? Why am I even talking to this guy at all?
I can relate to all of these, as I’ve gone through these periods and am still there. 18 years of verbal abuse is not simple to undo and even the order in which you’ve placed them here is exactly how they’ve all been for me. Now that I’m away it’s still hard because none of my family and friends have believed me, but then many of them are people I was alienated from either by him or after giving up on the fight. You simply cannot win against them.
Thank you again for such an article that is identical to my experiences.
I think this is such an important read and I so appreciate how you point to the fact that it can have these kinds of results for anyone, "normal" life and all. Verbal abuse is not something to take lightly or underestimate and these are very, very real consequences of it. Thank you for sharing!
This is an incredibly informative article that accurately describes that painfully devastating effects of verbal abuse. Shared to my blog!
Clara, thanks so much for reading and commenting! -Emily