Verbal Abuse in Relationships

Normalizing verbal abuse is a danger that society should be wary of, but in the political climate that envelopes much of social media interaction today, it's increasingly difficult for people to find productive ways to interact with each other. More and more, people use verbal abuse when discussing differing ideologies on social media. Should verbal abuse on social media feel so routine? Can we stop normalizing verbal abuse?
Most people think physical violence is more dangerous than verbal abuse in a relationship, but this is a misconception. It's why we often hear well-meaning advice such as, "If an abuser's behavior turns violent, it's time to leave." But should it have to get to this point before the abused person walks away? Emotional abuse and physical violence are not mutually exclusive -- in fact, one is usually a precursor to the other. So, let's explore the psychological side effects of verbal abuse, some of which have dangerous implications.
Understanding the definition and examples of the ad hominem fallacy will change the way you process arguments forever. This is really important in the context of trying to figure out if you are a victim of verbal abuse, which is sometimes the case when the ad hominem fallacy is used.
A list of reasons to leave a verbally abusive relationship could be a very long list and yet any one reason would be reason enough. Information on why people stay in abusive relationships is pretty easy to track down, but finding reasons you should leave is not nearly as common. In fact, when doing some preemptive brainstorming for this article, I entered “reasons to leave an abusive relationship” into Google and the majority of results were articles on why people stay. Understanding why we do the things we do is important. Becoming informed about anything that touches our lives so personally is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. However, to learn, grow, and evolve, we must look toward our next step, we must be willing to explore our own possibilities, only then will we begin to move on.
Think you've spotted the early warning signs of verbal abuse in your relationship? If so, you're not alone. I was in a volatile, abusive partnership for two years before I identified the signs, and by then the damage was already done. Like me, you probably know that any form of emotional abuse is insidious and highly destructive. You understand that this kind of psychological trauma can lead to depression, self-harm and even physical violence in a relationship. Unlike me, however, perhaps you can spot the warning signs of verbal abuse early on and put an end to the vicious cycle.
Gaslighting, emotional abuse that can drive a person crazy, is a form of manipulation that can lead to the victim questioning everything they have ever known to be true. Do you know someone whose interactions leave you feeling like you are going insane, either from frustration, bewilderment, or exhaustion? You may be a victim of gaslighting. Don’t panic, the silver lining is you’re not actually going crazy, you’ve just had a firsthand encounter with gaslighting -- emotional abuse and crazy-making manipulation.
Withholding contact is something your partner could do that could make you feel worse than hearing his verbal abuse. Picture yourself in a relationship in which there are no violent outbursts, no explosive fits of rage, no words thrown at you like hand grenades, in which your only punishments are silence and deprivation. It may sound like a favorable option to anyone on the frontline of a verbally abusive relationship, but so-called "withholding" is a particularly insidious method of abuse that deprives us of our basic comforts and makes us feel less than human. Here's why verbal abusers withhold verbal and physical contact, and how to respond.
Learning verbal abuse coping skills is more important than you might think. Common misconceptions about verbally abusive relationships are that verbal abuse is solely characteristic of romantic relationships and that you can simply leave. Verbal abuse can be present in relationships involving parent and child, siblings, friends, romantic relationships, co-workers, school-yard bullies -- the list continues. Considering people cannot immediately leave their family, quit their job, or change schools, it can be life-changing to develop verbal abuse coping strategies such as learning the facts about verbal abuse, response techniques, and ways to love yourself amidst the verbal abuse. People often advise others to “just leave” and while this advice likely comes from a place of love, it may not be realistic. With that being said, verbal abuse does not have to plague your life. If you can escape, do so promptly. Your future self will thank you. These verbal abuse coping skills and tips are for relationships that you cannot readily exit and should be helpful until you’re able to remove yourself from the situation entirely.
My name is Emily J. Sullivan and I’m thrilled to join the HealthyPlace blogging team as the newest author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog. My earliest friendships and my first dating experiences were rampant with dysfunction. Con men, mean girls, gaslighters, and narcissists have always found their way into my heart. I’m not sure if it’s because I could always see the good in people or if I was an easy target. Whatever the reason, I spent years of my life in relationships and friendships with people who have been able to emotionally overpower me with verbal abuse. Verbal abuse can mentally cripple a person, diminish their self-worth, and alienate them from the loving relationships in their lives.
After verbal abuse, my mental health didn't automatically return to normal. The first year after my verbally abusive relationship ended was tough. Not only did I struggle with the after-effects of verbal abuse -- namely anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem -- I also met someone new (let's call him A) and fell in love all over again. A was everything I had ever wanted in a partner and my instincts were telling me "he's the one" from the day we met. So why couldn't I let myself be happy? With my verbal abuser firmly out of the picture, why was I still plagued with anxiety? Mental health problems may follow us long after verbal abuse ends.