I Have More Empathy After Sustaining Verbal Abuse

October 13, 2022 Cheryl Wozny

There was a time in my life when I was irate and unhappy with my environment and everyone around me. I would lash out at the slightest inconvenience and feel justified in my actions because of my trauma. I continued this behavior until I started therapy. After years of extensive therapy, I've realized those actions were not helpful, and I feel more empathy after verbal abuse than before it. 

Verbal Abuse and Feeling Empathy Is About Finding Common Ground

Although I still carry around some negative feelings from my verbally abusive past, I try not to let them cloud my judgment. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Sometimes, I have bad days where I may snap or get upset when facing a minor situation, but generally, I tend to be more empathetic when someone is not cordial or agreeable. 

I like to keep this old quote in my mind, "Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting their own battle you know nothing about."

The origins of this saying go back to around Socrates' time, but the premise still rings true today. Empathy for someone angry or rude to you in a tense situation extends the grace they never received from someone else. I try to remember that the upset person at the grocery store who yelled at me could have just escaped an abusive relationship and are fearful of what lies ahead. 

Empathy Is Not an Excuse or Forgiveness 

Some people may view empathy towards others who act out as allowing them to continue their negative behaviors. It is vital that no one thinks of empathy as a way of excusing mistreating others or forgiving a person's harmful actions. When I apply this grace to others, it's because I feel better about myself. 

I am not continuing the cycle of abuse by using the person's misdirected anger to lash out at someone else. I don't carry their hurtful words around with me as I used to in the past. 

I've learned that it is all about what I can control. Since I cannot control how others talk to me or treat me, I can control the situation I am in, and I can control my response to such negative comments. 

So, the next time someone says something hurtful to you, remember your options to handle the situation with empathy and understanding. The other person may be hurting deeply inside and unable to process their trauma well. You can move forward more positively without letting it pull you back. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2022, October 13). I Have More Empathy After Sustaining Verbal Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 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

October, 21 2022 at 5:53 pm

I love this article’s message of not allowing verbal abuse or just giving in!!! My only thought was that it really depends on what the situation is, in terms of how often they try this. For example if in my case, my abuser was continuous for many weeks in a row. This situation was clearly him trying to control me by making me think i was stupid, and his intention was to hurt me. In this situation he needed to hear i was no longer going to accept his abuse and it was going to stop immediately, which of course it did not, but i gave me a few weeks reprieve until he started him senario again. (Most likely i need to be very consistent with him but did not.). Its ok because its a learning process and i was doing something so i did not feel helpless. Then there are those people that you know is most likely having a bad day because they are normally nice to you. Those are the ones we need to try and understand that maybe they are having a difficult mental health day and not actually trying to hurt you!! I don’t use the previous method of defending myself and try instead to be compassionate and talk about what they might be going through. And a lot of times after you talk with them , they apologize.

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