Forms of Verbal Abuse: Insults and Their Delivery
There are many different forms of verbal abuse, and one that is often the easiest to spot is an abuser's insults or put-downs. My ex-boyfriend did not hold back, issuing demeaning comments or labels meant to attack specific things about me, my life, or the people in it so that I would feel bad about myself and change my behavior in some way. His words were direct hits either on things I liked about myself or on things I was insecure about. Either way, however, he used his knowledge about me gained through the closeness to me earned early in the relationship to try to hurt me using insults as a form of verbal abuse ("Early Warning Signs of Verbal Abuse").
Looking back, I recognize now that not all of those insults were the same. The context of the insults or even just his demeanor would differ. Yet how he delivered the insults made a difference because these slightly different forms of verbal abuse had different results on me.
3 Forms of Verbal Abuse Insults
In terms of how my ex-boyfriend delivered verbally abusive comments, there were three forms of verbal abuse insults that I will refer to as hot, covert, and cold.
- The hot method: This type of verbal abuse was tied to his anger, usually when his jealousy got the best of him or he felt he had been disrespected in some way. These were some of the nastiest insults that came out of his mouth. When he was raging, I could expect to hear expletives hurled at me, along with all of the most common insults used in modern society for degrading women.
- The covert method: The verbal abuse in this category included the subtle jabs he'd throw out when he wanted to deny that he was being cruel. The insults would creep into conversations when we were around others, disguised as jokes, or sometimes in off-hand remarks when we were alone. If I brought it up, he would claim he was only kidding or that I was starting an argument by blowing things out of proportion.
- The cold method: These insults were delivered so calmly, it was as if he had never loved me at all. Sometimes he even had a smile on his face. The things he said to me during these times were often the cruelest of all. They felt calculated to hurt me, and I couldn't blame his out-of-control emotions -- because he wasn't showing any.
I have seen these methods before, but I had never stopped to categorize them. In my experience, some people primarily stick to one method and some people have the full range in their arsenal. Yet which types a person uses to verbally abuse others can say something about how they attempt to remain in control.
My ex-boyfriend obviously used all three, and I have realized that my responses to them said something about how they can be defeated. I have realized that my ex-boyfriend learned how to manipulate my reactions to all three of these methods to keep me from leaving the relationship. In the next three articles, I will examine each one separately and how abusers use insults as forms of verbal abuse to control their partners.
Milstead, K. (2018, November 22). Forms of Verbal Abuse: Insults and Their Delivery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2018/11/forms-of-verbal-abuse-insults-and-their-delivery
Author: Kristen Milstead
I am not sure how I found you, but thank you! It is because of you and your articles that yesterday I walked away from a 4 year relationship with a narcissist. In the beginning he hid his disorder well, or so I thought. However, I realize he was using verbal abuse towards me in his humor or his pet names for me. In the beginning I made excuses for him to those who were shocked or appalled by how he treated me. I now see it for what it was abuse, disrespect for me as a person. For me the worst weapon he had was the Silent treatment. This hurt more than the words. It was emotionally draining. I also now realize that he manipulated me to keep me away from friends and family. If I wanted to do something with them he would A. Get angry and say things like, “go get drunk and slut around with your friends.” B. Say he had plans for us. So I would cancel with them and choose him. Of course after I did that he would back out of the plans by saying he didn’t feel like going out. Long story short, I now see that no matter how much I loved him or how hard I tried. I was never going to be good enough. He was incapable of loving me the way I deserve to be loved. So if I can recognize this why do I want him to beg me to come back? Why do I still love him? I read your articles and relate. I know I can’t go back, but I want to. I miss him!! This is the hardest thing I have ever done!
I am not sure how I found your site, but all I know is that I am so grateful I did. I just left my verbal, emotional, psychological, abusive NARC in October. We were together for 4 years. It was the most precious/hideous and devastating four years of my life. Your stories sound like they came from my mouth. I have been struggling for years to try to make sense of all the torment and betrayal. There is no sense in it. I loved him with ALL that I was, and he took ALL that I WAS, and left me hallow. I am in a very desperate and dark place most days. The pain is so enormous that I can't hardly breathe, still. My health has been severely compromised, and it can actually feel the hole in my chest where my heart use to reside. I now know that I am not "crazy," nor "ridiculous", nor was I EVER "making up things in my head to argue about." Not that any NORMAL, and honest woman in love, could/would EVER want to make this type of betrayal and pain up, to willingly be a part of her intimate relationship and everyday life. After learning his pattens, and having to track him and recording his conversations for three months; I had proof that ALL of my suspicions were ALWAYS 100% correct.
Thank you for your site, and your sharing. I just want my life back. I want me back. I want REAL. And this is all just too overwhelming, I don't know how to heal it. :(