The Signs of Verbal Abuse
The signs of verbal abuse are usually invisible to the world outside of your family. Verbal, emotional and mental abuse eats you alive from the inside out. Abuse can do heavy mental damage and cause mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and PTSD. Those illnesses have visible symptoms, but after developing the illness, no one but your closest friends may notice. (If you still have friends after being isolated!)
So, the signs of verbal abuse are often felt instead of seen.
The Abuser Knows Some Signs of Verbal Abuse
The abuser knows that some things you say or do in public could give away what he does at home. Abusers are very conscious of what they do to you. If they didn't know what they did, abusers would fix their words and behaviors. Especially after you point them out. Healthy people don't want to hurt others. Hurting others is how abusers survive.
Because the abuser knows what he's doing, your partner expects you to be silent about the problems you have at home. Abusers want to project the happy family image. If you appear unhappy or talk about why you're unhappy with outsiders, the abuser gets embarrassed (and mad at you).
Many, if not most, controlling people have an "adoring public." People at church, work, PTA, in the neighborhood and in the community at large may think your abuser is the bees knees. The abuser often uses his stature in society as a means to further control and isolate you.
Who would believe you if you told about how he acts at home? If you thought, "No one" then your abuser has effectively isolated you to the point of despondency.
Your abuser knows some of the signs of verbal abuse, so you are not allowed to show them. Outside of the house you're expected to be happy. To be a good parent. To have beautiful, smart, popular children. The abuser expects to see you happy because if you aren't, people may wonder about the abuser. We can't have that, now can we?
Symptoms and Signs of Verbal Abuse
The thoughts and feelings victims of abuse often feel are cumulative, built on doubt and humiliation over time. Verbal abuse is sneaky, hidden in the words of someone who says she loves you. It takes a while, sometimes a long while, for victims to notice how they've changed into a traumatized and pained shadow of their former selves.
There are some common symptoms and signs of verbal abuse that victims share. They're internal and unseen by any outsider the abuser brings near his happy family.
- You feel as if you are paraded about like a silent trophy when you attend group functions for the abuser's work or activities. You're afraid to say much of anything while out for fear of retribution for saying the wrong thing.
- You distrust your ability to make sound decisions for yourself or family; you go along with your abuser's poor decisions without much resistance.
- You feel uneasy or anxious much of the time; you may jump at small recognizable sounds or feel your heart pounding for no understandable reason.
- You do not get excited over much of anything; if you are excited over a positive event, then that excitement doesn't last long because you begin to wonder how to present the news to your abuser in order to get the best possible reaction from him.
- You think that you are crazy; you feel that you need professional help to overcome your problems (and professional help is a good idea if you tell the therapist about the abuse in your relationship).
- Your internal voices are critical, judgmental, overpowering at times, and abusive; you hear the abusive words and phrases she speaks to you in your own internal dialogue.
- You keep telling yourself it will be better when she retires, the children are grown, she gets that promotion, she finishes that project, after lunch, ... . You constantly wait for the good times.
- You believe that one day your abuser will realize how good of a spouse you've been and will be sorry; the abuser will do a complete 180 culminating in her admiration and respect for you. This belief is hard to shake because of the nice times in which your abuser stops her abusive behaviors long enough to allow you to think "It's different this time" (a.k.a. the honeymoon period).
Signs of Verbal Abuse Change Into Symptoms of Disease
No one in this world can know what you think or feel unless you tell them (telling your abuser doesn't count - she doesn't care). If you recognized yourself in the list of signs of verbal abuse, then it is up to you to change your thinking. What you think is killing you.
If you continue living in abuse, you will stress your body and mind in ways so twisted that you no longer see his abuse as stressful. Abuse becomes normal.
Your abuser doesn't have to work as hard to control you when you are preoccupied with thinking that you are good for nothing, not abused, and not under stress. If your abuser succeeds in turning your thoughts around to the point where you no longer blame her but instead blame yourself, then her work is a whole lot easier.
Chronic stress caused by verbal abuse or any kind of abuse can lead to or cause a number of physical diseases:
- Heart problems
- Immune system deficiencies
- Muscle and joint pain
- Stomach issues
- Sexual and reproductive problems
- Lung troubles
- Skin/Complexion issues
The signs of verbal abuse can lead to disease, physical and mental, that could kill you. It's your choice whether you allow that to happen or not. Your thinking patterns feed your disease, so the best thing to do is change what you think.
You cannot change your abuser, you can only change yourself.
How Do I Stop the Verbal Abuse? (Part 1)
Reach Out - How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 2)
Educate Yourself - How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 3)
Self Reliance - How to Stop Verbal Abuse (Part 4)
Develop an Exit Strategy And Safety Plan (Part 5)
The Signs of Verbal Abuse (Part 6)
*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.
Holly, K. (2011, May 8). The Signs of Verbal Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/05/how-to-stop-verbal-abuse-part-6-wrap-up
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
I am currently in a unique situation. I am on bed rest and require help with my toddler while my husband is at work. This amounts to about 5 hours a day. Mid-morning-mid-afternoon, my toddler's busiest hours.
I am expected to be on bed rest for approximately 9 more weeks, but it could be as long as 21.
We received notice that the townhome we are renting is being sold by the owner and that we must move.
My mom has offered to have us come live with she and my dad, but I am not sure that is the best option. I then become a captive audience to her abuse day and night. She currently comes to help at our current residence during the day, but as soon as my husband gets home she leaves and I have the rest of the day in peace.
We did find a home we can rent in our area, which is more expensive than we had hoped, but my mom said that she will not help us more than 2 days a week if we choose not to live with her. I called my sister who is currently only working weekends and 1 weekday to see if she might be able to help, but she declined.
I don't know what to do. My concern, of course, is first and foremost for my unborn child and having a good outcome. My physician is concerned that if I move into an environment like this that it may actually make my condition worse. On the other hand, if I don't move into that environment I lose my help 3 days a week.
( or leave for a few days ). I know this is provocative, however I cannot win or reason during an argument, he moto is " fight to the death ", & I cannot stay & listen to his cruelty. He is generally loving & attentive, however the pattern is such: when we are out, he will completely ignore me, or reveal, or insult me. I find this crazy-making & don't understand his motives. He is smart, good looking, clever and a senior Police Officer. Shamefully, I am an RN/ Psychologist. It appears I have been the victim of covert or ambient abuse? I began suspecting this only in the past 3 years. We moved to Cairns ( Far North Queensland ), as he was promoted. I willingly gave up my private practice, home, & moved 3000kms away from my seriously ill father, mother & sister. Of course I spent a lot of my time travelling back & forth to care for my family, all who died in the past 18 months. My partners parents ( with whom I had a very close & loving relationship ), also within the following 6 months. I subsequently developed a clinical depression & have been struggling emotionally. It has become very apparent during this time how intolerant, cruel & abusive my partner can be. Each time I arrived back in Cairns following my family's deaths he was " so agitated & angry with me ". Offered no support or condolences, just this rapid fire cruelty that went on for days, while I cried hysterically ( pathetically ) in another bedroom. I felt paralysed. I understand his is also grieving now, & have tried to be supportive, however, I could feel tension rising & have been waiting for an argument. It has come & I am to blame & apparently have never made any effort in restoring this relationship. He is the victim. Can you help/ advise me. Kind Regards, Barbara
I cook dinner for him everynight, keep the house 'homey', do his bookwork that he keeps telling me i dont do correctly or on time ( he neglected his own bookwork for 2 years before i was on the scene ) and has put himself in soo much debt it will take years and planning and dicipline on his behalf to get him out of it. But alas i am the one that is letting him down.He makes me feel inadequate.i keep telling myself its not my problem its his but hes nastiness wears me down and makes me feel i cant do anything right.
There is no form of etiquette we can adopt to dealing with public displays of abuse. Whatever you do or say is going to be controversial and potentially dangerous. Never say ANYTHING if you fear for your safety.
In the hallway situation, perhaps you could have interrupted the man to say to the woman, "Are you okay? Do you need any help?" Or you could direct your statements to the abuser, perhaps saying "Do you know you are verbally abusing this woman? Did you know that verbal abuse is domestic violence?"
Speaking to the abuser allows his or her victim to hear your concern too. It may be better for the victim if you DO speak to the abuser. Many abusers are jealous creatures and could turn your attention into an accusation that the victim somehow flirted with you previously.
In any case, don't put yourself in danger. And if you ask the victim if they want to leave with you to find help, be prepared to do that should they take you up on the offer.
Any other suggestions for Dan?
During the first year he had all these funny jokes of 'electrocuting me in the bath'.(he was an electrician). This was followed by 'threatening to chop me in bits' if I ever left him for someone else.
When our first child was about 1 year old he threaten that if I left him, he would take his opportunity, take his daughter & I would never see her again. Yes - I believed he could do that.
Years followed with my husband having breakdowns re depression etc.
When our 4th child was just 4 months old I was diagnosed with a severe form of'rhumatoid arthritis' & although he refused 'home help' in the house he did help
me a lot. I struggled with this disease ever after until this day.
A year or so later he regularly threatened 'suicide then 1 morning he awoke & described how he had shot the lot of us. I was scared - called in a doctor and he was 'bombed out on heavy medication in case of violence.
I failed to add, my husband did compulsive military training in the '50's' then trained in the 'territorials' for a number of years.
Did I think he seemed 'warped ' at times - yes?
Over the years he would be a good supportive husband & father to our 5 children but in between there were always 'rages' but not nearly as bad as they are to-day.
After one bout of stress he spent a week in a psyche ward.
He is now 75 years of age, has suffered bowel, lung, & eye resection surgery owing to various cancers. When he is unwell he abuses verbally & fights the nearest person - me.
The last 3 rages have been dreadful - 2 were nothing to do with me but it didn't stop the tirade of verbal toxity. The rages are known as 'emotional projectile vomiting".
As I never know when things will erupt I have just bought a digital recorder which I carry in my pocket, as I have no proof of this abuse.
My husband has a strong faith but maybe he grew up with this abuse - I certainly did not, but I find it hard equating all this with a religious person.
In between 'bouts of unaddressed depression" and intermittent explsive rages he has been a good husband & father but the verbal abuse is devastating our lives.
To-day, while looking at ways to stop this abuse I found your site and totally relate to the 'monkey throwing poop' statement. Originally I was looking for words to pen a letter but I realise you would not advise this. Normally I can never redress the subject & it is expected I will just accet whatever. I am open to advise.
Thank-you for reading this.
Leaving is not an easy option for me, as I would be classed 'physically disabled' and walk with either a w/stick or frame.
I do not know how to stop the abuse and i cannot afford to live on my own..I am down to 95 lbs., and I know its because of what her words are doing to me..So now I just
stay in my room and study..I do not know if I will ever get my RN license as I have tried for so many years and have taken courses in between all of this..I am quietly chipping away at the degree, It's only a two year degree and is taking forever to complete..I do not want to be homeless again..I am 58 years old..Thanks for reading my post..I think if I continue to just stay away from her things will work in my favor. Hope I can gain some weight-I never thought I would STILL be going through this at my age..Hope I dont die before her- she is a very strong Italian woman and I am very weak..Best- Sandi W.
While you're at it, delete his friends phone numbers and facebook profiles too. They're his friends. Let him have them. By blocking them on facebook and deleting their numbers from your phone, you'll be less likely to try to connect with him through his friends.
In time, and with the distance from communication, you will discover some new (possibly hurtful) things that he's done. Your mind and heart will disentangle from him and everything concerning your relationship will seem clearer - and it will become easier to detach and let him go.
A few words about divorce:
Keep as much of the communication with him in front of attorney's or through attorney's as possible. (Watch out though! My atty charged me $5 for every email. Cost $100 before I got the first bill and figured that out!)
Your feelings of attachment and desire to help him are normal. However, those feelings will also screw you in a divorce settlement. Don't think for one minute he won't use your feelings to get what he wants. Instead of working it out on your own, try court mediation.
I'm looking at all of my options at the moment....having just told a few very good friends what's been going on for years..... Much to their disbelief. He is the good guy...everyone loves him....I'm seen as the problem, the one with the issues. It is the most heartbreaking thing for me to have to deal with....being misunderstood.
glad I found this sure, its very interesting. I've recently left an abusive, mostly mentally, and just wondered, can this type of abusive relationship make your brain have some type of trauma? I ask because I just kind of lost the plot towards the end, my head was kind of making a crackling noise and began an affair, not even able to think of the consequences. people kept telling me what they would be but I felt away with the fairies. I went to see a phsychiatrist to ask her if id gone mad, and she said I was just fine. still worries me though, was it some sort of break down, I had.net enough big time, relentless crap!! :(
I'm miserable. I have four kids and I stay for them because I'm afraid of what their life would be like if we were no longer together. I don't have the courage or the money to leave. I just finally started working part-time after staying at home for almost 13 years, but trying to do it all has left me exhausted and landed me in the hospital with pneumonia for a week this winter. I know financially I could never make it on my own, and I have no support system to reach out to for help. I feel like I'm dying inside. This isn't the person I used to be and it makes me so sad that I can see the circle of abuse happening but I don't know how to break free of it. Please help...
Find a new psychiatrist as soon as possible.