Does Verbal Abuse Lead to Physical Abuse?

February 25, 2021 Cheryl Wozny

When you are facing verbal abuse regularly, there may be a question of physical abuse following it. The term "abuse with bodily harm" has been coined, and while that is true, it is not always the case. In my experience, those who are verbally abusive may not be physically abusive, but there can be the threat of escalation.

I have been on both sides of the coin, dealing with someone who is verbally and physically abusive, as well as someone who only uses their words to intimidate and hurt me. Neither is better than the other, and both are wrong. 

Will Verbal Abuse Escalate to Physical Abuse?

The problem that you may experience is not knowing if the verbal abuse you receive will turn to physical abuse. Sometimes you can see the progression of yelling and intimidation to punching walls or throwing and breaking things. At one time in my life, my verbal abuser began to physically harm my animal, giving me an indication that it could result in bodily injuries if I ignored these signs. 

Complications may make you think the abuse isn't that bad because you do not have any bruises or broken bones. You may believe that the abuser only speaks that way due to stress at work, when they are overtired, hungry, drunk, etc. And that may be the case. But that does not make it okay. You do not have to deal with any form of abuse, verbal, physical, or otherwise. There can always be the chance of verbal abuse turning physical if the conditions are there. 

Some abusers will never physically abuse you. They prefer to use manipulation, emotional abuse, or even use personal finances to control you. Any form of abuse is a way of control, whether it is verbal or physical. 

Should I Wait to See If Verbal Abuse Turns to Physical Abuse?

My advice to those reading this today is that you should not wait and see if verbal abuse turns to physical abuse. If there is no way to diffuse the situation of verbal abuse, do not allow your abuser to physically harm you as well. Of course, this is easier to say than to implement.

Many additional factors can come into play when you are facing abuse. From children in the home to financial difficulties, it can be stressful and challenging to navigate life away from your abuser. I want you to know that it is possible. 

And if you are in a situation where verbal abuse has evolved to physical harm, the sooner you can get help, the better. Do not wait and see if the problem will get worse before you do something to help yourself. Finding the right resources in your area can get you on the path of healing with a support system in place. You can find a list of available domestic violence resources online, many of which can direct you to local centers for your recovery.

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2021, February 25). Does Verbal Abuse Lead to Physical Abuse?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 13 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

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