Dealing with Random Verbal Abuse from Strangers

April 8, 2021 Cheryl Wozny

You do not have to be in an abusive relationship to experience verbal abuse. There can be many situations where an individual is subjected to verbal abuse from strangers. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you think. These random incidents are not okay, but it can be hard to deal with them when they come up. It can be in the form of personal insults, name-calling, or other belittling comments. 

I have been the victim of verbal assault on several occasions, including while I was running down the street and going to the grocery store. Both of these times, I was shocked to the point where I had no response and chose to ignore the instigator and leave the situation. 

Strangers Who Verbally Abuse (and More)

It is never healthy to treat people abusively, but unfortunately, many individuals do not feel there is anything wrong with their behavior, even to strangers in public. There can be several reasons why people lash out at strangers. 

Some of the reasons why verbal abuse shows up include: 

  • Learned behavior
  • Lashing out because of a bad day or week
  • Racism
  • Insecurities 
  • Lacking social skills

These reasons do not excuse verbal abuse in any way, but knowing why verbal abuse happens can help you deal with it when you experience it. 

What You Can Do About a Stranger's Verbal Abuse

There are different ways that you can deal with verbal abuse from strangers. Depending on your personality, you may want to choose one option rather than another. How you decide to react is a personal choice, and it should be what is best for you. 

Ignore the Abuse

Sometimes, it is easier to ignore the person who is insulting or belittling you in public. If you are in a shopping center or other large public area, you can walk away and remove yourself from the situation. This act can take the power away from the abuser while you control your environment. 

Call Them on It Without Escalation

Some people will choose to face the abuser head-on and confront them. This option can be a simple comment from you, like:

  • That is a horrible thing to say.
  • You should not treat people like that.
  • I don't appreciate being talked to like that.

It can be hard to call the person out on their behavior without them retaliating and forcing an escalation in the situation. If you have faced the abuser head-on and they are becoming more combative, you can still remove yourself from the environment. 

Respond with Kindness

You do not know what situations a stranger is going through unless they tell you personally. The choice to use empathy and kindness is a sign of compassion and understanding. By responding politely, the abuser may change their behavior or realize that their verbal assaults do not affect you and remove themselves from the situation. 

Verbal Abuse from Strangers Is Not Personal

Verbal abuse from strangers is not personal. It is often a result of a problem from the abuser rather than anything you have said or done. If you remember that it is not an attack on you as an individual, you can deal with the problem more easily without becoming emotionally involved.

Although facing verbal abuse from strangers can be surprising and difficult to manage at that time, it is an isolated incident, and you do not have to deal with that person further. Just knowing that you will not see them again can help you move on from the situation and not let it get to you. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2021, April 8). Dealing with Random Verbal Abuse from Strangers, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 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

March, 27 2024 at 4:21 pm

I just got into it with a stranger who was driving and didn't slow down like he was supposed to even though I was a pedestrian already in the crosswalk. He was turning into the plaza as I was using the crosswalk and we both hesitated but the default rule is to wait for pedestrians. But after all, he continued rolling passed me as I was half way thru the cross walk when he said out his window "pay attention ..blah blah". thats all I heard because before I knew it, I was shouting back at this car "no you pay attention, you're supposed to slow down for pedestrians" he was still driving but he stopped and put his car in reverse and started to "follow" me to argue. I was just going to my own car not too far into the parking lot. He stops and looks at me while I'm arguing back and they starts to insult my appearance. I was just running errands so I was in some flare yoga pants and a hoodie. My hair was poofy because I had just gotten it freshly colored that morning and it had been blow dried. I wasn't wearing makeup, so apparently he thought I looked like I was "on drugs" he asked me several times if I was high and I said what are you talking about and then he started laughing and calling me a tweaker or junkie. I was so insulted. I'm a woman, he was a man and just because I didn't dress for his gaze (the male gaze) while running errands, he concluded I looked so bad that I was on drugs? I'm so embarrassed and annoyed that this happened. All because he didn't want to slow down for a pedestrian in the cross walk? I can't help but feel like this is some kind of karma from the universe because I do admit that sometimes I am not the most patient or nice person out in public, but I never throw personal insults at people. If I am complaining or verbalizing my displeasure, it is directed at the situation itself rather than personal insults at the participating parties. For example, all I rebuttled back to him was that he needed to be the one to pay attention and later I told him he was very rude for saying I looked like a tweaker. He even pulled out his phone like he was going to start recording the altercation but I drove off hopefully not giving him enough time to make a decent video. I could have insulted him back, but he went straight for personal attacks and it hurt my feelings. I should not have to be insulted just for running errands while not being all done up.

March, 5 2024 at 5:13 am

I can only speak from my own experiences of random verbal abuse. Would also like to add I do not condone voilence for the sake of it.
I live in a deprived area with high instances of anti-social behaviour. Some people will porously go out to instigate verbal abuse including as a pretext for violence. Literally responding is, in their eyes, an attack on their person. No, this is not in any way logical - you are not dealing with logical people, or logical situations; you're dealing with wannabe bullies and cowards with personal issues who are, thankfully often easy to spot.
Sometimes the hardest thing to deal with is actually yourself. You may question whether you are doing the right thing by ignoring the abuse or trying to deal with it in a non-aggressive manner, or responding in kind. We each have our own demons and bourdons.
I have myself been in unfortunate situations where I have had no choice but to respond to violence with violence. I couldn't walk or run away. Not one single time however was I arrested because I adopt strict rules which I can only attest to age and experience:
1. Ignore them
2. If they continue to be a threat, tell them to go away. You have that right. Walk away.
3. Should they persist again, ORDER them to stay out your space and to no assault you –now walk away whilst keeping a close eye on their movements. If they're angry then so be it - you are protecting yourself here, physically and lawfully, in the event they persist.
This, in a nutshell, has all grounds covered. Do not engage with an idiot hell-bent on violence.
And yes, it's easier said than done when you frequent the same areas, with the same people causing the same problems. But a clear and direct approach as above will limit their options. You argue with them, and you are literally coming down to their level. Not only that, but their defense would, in the event they assault you, seek to exploit your interaction as some form of mitigation should they attack.
The more you ignore people like this, the worse it gets for them. If they are going to attack then they are quickly going to paint themselves into a corner - as long as your actions are necessary, proportionate and lawful and you then remove yourself from the situation AND report the assault to the law, then so be it.
This is my approach. I'm not saying it's the best one, but it seems to work for me. Do not take these people personally, and do not stop to argue the toss. They will hate being ignored and from them on it will only get worse for them. They might live long enough to call it a life lesson, even.

October, 26 2023 at 1:15 pm

I found this article as I’m struggling to accept some abuse I received today. Being transgender, I expect that I’m an easy target and have to deal with it but today it wasn’t because of that.
I am blind in one eye and have no muscle movement. I have been like this since birth and I have made my peace with it. Today, this group of lads sitting in a car shout over “hey mate, are you sniffing glue?” “Sorry?l was my response…”you look like you are”
I approached the car, looked at all 3 of them, and said “hilarious, why don’t you go f yourself” and calmly (but nervously) walked away - expecting to get chased down. I’m confident in myself, but it has taken a lot of years to get to this level and I can be insecure. Not going to lie, it shook me up a bit. I was on my way to the station to get a train to London for a meeting and it has eaten at me all day. I found myself googling “corrective eye surgery” and then I had to take a step back. How do you really feel like you win in this situation? They clearly don’t care, and feel like they have this power to attempt to belittle anyone they like. What is the best way to be dealing with this?

October, 31 2023 at 5:34 pm

Hello Lauren, I am Cheryl Wozny, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog at HealthyPlace. I wanted to thank you for sharing your story. It takes a lot of courage and strength to talk about your experiences with verbal abuse. Unfortunately, I am not a mental health professional, only a person who has extensive experience with verbal abuse myself. I can sympathize with your situation and receiving verbal abuse from strangers since it's happened to me on more than one occasion. I commend you for being able to stand up for yourself and walk away from the experience to avoid escalating it. I encourage you to visit our Resources page… for more information on mental health resources in your area to help you deal with your feelings and future verbally abusive situations. Thank you for taking the time to reach out.

Just a girl
October, 18 2023 at 7:43 am

I had a terrifying incident this morning, walking my dog along a lit path (early morning so its dark). A cyclist came up behind and he did ring his bell, but when he was right behind me, I stepped out his way and my dog was off lead on the other side if the path (not a cyclist path). He then cycled a couple of hundred yards and turned his bike around and he had a full beam light staring in my face which I found difficult to see. I felt uneasy as I realised i was vulnerable and did not have my phone with me. As I passed he said i nearly ran your dog over (absolutely did not) i said you gave me fright and didn't give me much notice - then he flipped, started swearing at me then as i walked past he turned his bike around and followed me screaming threats - i realised i was in danger alone and isolated, i had to play submissive and say sorry, he gave up after a long 2 mins of threats and abuse, the rage was so scary. The rage was something ive never seen before and he wouldnt let up. I think i did the right thing and calmly kept walking allowing him to scream and threaten me as i knew if i did answer back he would have gotten physical - i called the police and reported him - mainly for fear it escalates badly with someone else.
Now i feel badly shaken and cant stop crying i felt so weak i didnt stand up for myself and my mind is flashing to what ifs he could have harmed me.
Im hoping these feelings will subside in time.

October, 19 2023 at 11:38 am

Hello, Just a girl,
I am Cheryl Wozny, author of the Verbal Abuwes in Relationships blog here at HealthyPlace. Thank you for bravely sharing your personal account of random verbal abuse from strangers. I know how facing verbal abuse can cause internal turmoil. I am not a mental health professional or a doctor, but I think you did the right thing. It's interesting how we know how to respond appropriately when times like this arise. You knew exactly what to do to diffuse the situation and keep yourself safe. I commend you on that. Of course, reporting the incident is the next logical step to help ensure others won't face the same anger later. In this situation, you did stand up for yourself by keeping calm and not feeding into his anger. Naturally, we will all think about the 'what ifs' afterwards. I am thankful you were left without any physical harm, and I urge you to seek out our Resources page for additional help in your region. Be well.

September, 17 2023 at 9:23 am

Thank you for this.
I was with my friends on the park with our dogs last week. The dogs were playing together and a woman came over with her dog saying not to worry, it was friendly. As our dogs were running around, her very big dog attacked my little one quite badly. She immediately started yelling at me saying it wasn’t her dog’s fault and threatening me not to go around telling everyone what had happened. I was shaking from her aggression towards me and said nothing until she walked away and then I burst into tears. Since then I’ve been telling myself I’m weak for not dealing with it better, and thinking of the things I should have said. My dog is ok, thankfully.

August, 15 2023 at 6:14 pm

I am in a similar situation and I don't have any idea how to get over it, I went outside my house and this random guy was staring at me with a hateful face. I came back to my home and as soon as I closed the door I heared him refer to me in degrading terms. I didn't do anything to trigger him, after days I found out he lives near my building and I feel disgusted that I have to see his face again. Sometimes i'm just working in my desk and I see him walk outside, it triggers anger and hate inside me that turns to discomfort. Luckily, I will move soon, but this situation takes a lot of my energy, I find myself always thinking about this event and I avoid going out just to not see his disgusting face again.

September, 2 2023 at 1:01 pm

Hi Luna,
Im a stranger here. Since it still upsets you, I’ll tell you something that I did when something very slight happened to me.
I have a neighbour who when I am with my husband, he is cheerful and says hello, but by myself he gives me the most hateful state I can imagine. Pure venom, i even cried about it once.
The next times I saw him when I was lone, I would say “hello, Goodmorning” even if he didn’t reply. Eventually I kept doing it, shaking off the hateful stares as, he must keep having bad days or he must not like my skin colour but that’s not person to me, it’s his own personal problem. Eventually when I am by myself he started saying Goodmorning to me too, and even complimenting the weather. I can’t say it’s my goodmornings which changed him but it’s more pleasant walking outside my house now.

Mary Baker
February, 12 2024 at 2:27 am

That is so interesting because I have found is someone was angry at me at work after I simply asserted myself and set boundaries, and that person refused to speak to me, after a few weeks or months of my saying "hello" every day seemed to "wear out" the animosity and we became civil and even friendly.

norville rogers
July, 29 2023 at 1:51 am

opposite side of the spectrum here - im the one that would lash out at strangers in the street/the train/bus/mall etc....worst thing is worst when i do so im completely sober. I know what im doing is wrong and potentially criminal but because ive worked for bosses that have done exactly the same with me - verbally abuse/throw things and scream at me, its to the point that they (these ex-bosses) have taught me that this behavior is acceptable.

August, 3 2023 at 4:11 pm

Hello Norville, I am Cheryl Wozny, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog. Thank you for reaching out and being vulnerable by sharing your story. It takes a lot of courage and strength to admit when your behavior is harmful to others. I encourage you to embrace your feelings of regret and seek out professional help to build better relationships. You can find some support on our Resources page here:…. I wish you well on your healing journey.

July, 6 2023 at 8:53 pm

I am 48 years old, and have been verbally abused by strangers, for most of my life, everything you can imagine, from being called a dog, being barked at, laughed at right in my face, it can make you angry, bitter, and sometimes try to avoid going places altogether, it may sound lame but the best thing you can do is to just ignore them like they don't even exist, headphones, to tune them ,out is also very helpful.

Pete J.
June, 6 2023 at 7:45 am

I swim three times a week at my local pool. Just before work, I have got to know many people well, who are regulars like myself. Occasionally, I change the swim days for example to a Saturday. And, it was on one Saturday last August (2022) that during swimming an incident occurred. I do lane swimming (slow, medium, and fast). I am usually in the fast lane. On this particular Saturday, as I was near the end of one of the 40 or 60 lengths. I noticed that one of the swimmers was keeping me back (and not in the appropriate lane). I chose to overtake him. He was just ahead on my left. We were nearing the end of the pool and he cut across my line of swimming. This led to a collision. At that point, he went into a furious torrent of abuse and swearing in which he accused me of doing on purpose. No, you cut across my swim I replied. No, you didn't, you cut across mine. Well, how could I cut across (to the left)? The torrent continued. I raised my voice with a stop gesture with my hand. I am an educated person, I do not accept this.
At this point, other swimmers backed me up and said they knew him, he was in his late 60s, bald and well-built. At the end of my swim, one of the swimmers (fortunately an old work colleague) went to the duty manager and supported me in my complaint. A few weeks later, nothing had happened. I chased this up for progress. Again, nothing. Finally, I went a third time. Again, nothing in the weeks ahead.
I still swim, and on the occasion when I switch to Saturday, occasionally my abuser is there. Even in the same lane, it is as if nothing happened. No apology, nothing. He does not take a second glance.
I really feel let down by the swimming pool management because when this action was going on the duty lifeguard didn't do anything...

Sarah S
August, 16 2023 at 7:40 am

Hi, I just saw your comment. This exact same incident happened to me the other day when I overtook a woman in the swim lane. The lifeguard did nothing after I raised it with him and I complained to management. I don’t feel comfortable going back to this leisure centre because nearly everyone knew what happened including most the staff. I felt humiliated. But they didn’t do anything to help me and no one in the pool had my back. I was told to pick a better slot when the reason I went at that time was because I felt most comfortable at that slot. Management also spoke to me in a condescending way and told me that the woman said she never swore or splashed me. I’ve sent a formal complaint so waiting to see if there’s a reply. I love swimming and now there’s no nearby centre for me so I guess I have to go back eventually. Hope you find a better place to swim.

Mary Baker
February, 12 2024 at 2:36 am

I just wanted to say that t's not safe to overtake and pass the swimmer ahead of you, and that a swimmer should try to find a lane where the other swimmers are going at about the same speed, thus cutting down on the need to pass. I pulled a muscle in the pool due to the surprise of being suddenly overtaken and that was nearly disastrous for me as I started sinking in 8 feet of water. (We were going at the same speed and then she suddenly decided to speed up.) A lifeguard told me the proper protocol is to tap the foot of the swimmer ahead of you, then they know to stop at the end of the row and let you pass at that time. The pool you use should have some protocols for that situation. If not I agree that it's not a good place to swim. I stopped swimming at the Y due to their lack of rules for swimmers swimming in the same lane.

Carina S.
May, 13 2023 at 1:46 pm

I just experienced verbal abuse from a stranger for the first time in many years. I will preface this by saying that since 2020 I’ve gained about 35 pounds, so I’m already feeling not great about my body. I am a very confident person and I have three daughters who are preteens. We are very healthy when we talk about our bodies and eating and food and about being kind to all people whether we know them or not. When I was walking into a class with my daughters and girl scout troop, a nice man it is probably 50s smiled at me and said “you are pretty in pink.“ I was wearing coral sweater and I felt really happy. That was a very nice thing for him to say.
Fast forward to about two hours later while walking down the same street, luckily by myself and not with my kids, or any other kids, a teenage boy and friend drove by and yelled out his window “You’re a fat b****.” My heart just stopped and I felt my cheeks flush but I kept on my way.
I am a 45-year-old woman and I know I should not let these rude punks affect me, but it’s amazing how some thing so random can be so hurtful. Was I truly the fattest person walking down the street? Likely not. And it doesn’t even matter! The fact he felt entitled to blurt that out at me, as I minded my own business, just bothers me so much. And it’s not just “boys will be boys” crap that many parents use as an excuse. I know many boys now, and many adult men who were once boys, who would never do that. It saddens me that I have three daughters who will face these types of insults and verbal abuse at the hands of strangers and people they know over their lifetime. There’s just no reason for it.
Thanks for letting me vent.

March, 7 2023 at 8:46 am

I apologize for or if I have "necro" the article here, but I need to vent. Was late to work this morning on the 07.03.23 and was walking to work when a random woman near a bus stop on my route began to call me a "pikey" and asked if I was Irish because she hated Irish people I recoiled slightly and stood my ground she then called me fat and ugly, and again I stood ground and was not abusive back, and she kept going for it and I began to challenge her back she then for some reason switched to being nice.
All the while, several people my parent's age or older sat in the shelter ignored her abuse and acted as if nothing was going on apart from looking in the direction of the altercation. I am not one to judge others as I have had my own issues with my mental health, but this kind of behaviour makes me question the moral compass some are bought up with.
I've never if ever encountered this and to be honest it left me shaken up and very upset and this also made me angry I've been swinging most of the day between both emotions, is this normal for someone who has had this happen to them?

March, 10 2023 at 12:40 pm

Hello Ollie, I am Cheryl Wozny, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog here at HealthyPlace. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with verbal abuse. It takes courage to show vulnerability with your story. Unfortunately, I cannot speak on behalf of others who choose to ignore the verbal abuse they see happening. However, I know I have been in situations where I was shocked that someone would speak to another person with such negativity. Not everyone is as strong as you and can face the abuser to get them to stop. Feeling shaken up and upset after experiencing verbal abuse from anyone, especially a stranger, in a public place is completely normal. If you are still upset or angry, try visiting our Resources page here:…. You may find a local support group in your region, or a hotline that can help you process your feelings. Be well.

November, 1 2022 at 12:56 pm

Hi. i am a submissive white male. I would like to help an abusive spouse who is trying to stop abuse their spouse by letting them bloww off steam by verbally or physically abusing me. Can u help?

November, 20 2022 at 6:31 am

This would be a bad idea to do. It sends the message that abuse is okay but your confusing one out of control situation with an in-control situation. The abusive spouse will continue to be abused even if your idea was done. I would instead, suggest that you explore your own desires to be a sub in a healthier situation. Cheers!

October, 23 2022 at 10:49 pm

Hi Cheryl,
First of all, I would like to thank you for sharing this invaluable article. Yesterday, I was on a visit to one of the State Parks. Unfortunately, I have been verbally abused by one of the park visitors because I was taking some photos in one of the 'supposedly' restricted spots. I mentioned 'supposedly' because there were no signs that prohibit visitors from stepping into that spot. In addition, the guy who insulted and abused me was watching closely around three or four guys taking photos and videos in the same spot. Later, I decided to go to the spot and take some memorable photos, and then I heard someone shouting at me and kept yelling "get out!"
He approached me and kept shouting and said "get the fu** out of here!" "pictures are worthless to be taken here", I was shocked and asked him to calm down so that I can understand his point of view. I am an Arab and Muslim Hijabi and this is my second year in the US, I thought his anger might be out of racism. This is because he was watching other guys and he take any action toward them!
Moreover, before leaving the spot he took my backpack and threw it aggressively (I was putting a metal bottle inside my backpack and it was a little bit damaged).
This scene was in front of many people and no one tried to react or stop him from abusing me, except for a gentleman who tried to help me and said "I'm sorry for what happened, are you okay? do you need any help?".
After trying to keep it together and continue my visit, by the end of the day I saw him again and I decided to talk to him and bear all the consequences. I introduced myself and he responded politely and he introduced himself back, then I asked him why he shouted and insulted me.
He replied that his reaction was due to the matter of respect for nature and preserving the park, I said "is it because of my hijab?" He denied that my hijab could be the reason, and this wasn't his intention. He said, "I totally understand why you're feeling this way because I'm 'white' ".
I said, "In fact, this is the way I felt; because I saw you watching others taking photos in the same spot without taking any action!" He claimed that he wasn't too close to them to talk to them (and honestly he was lying because he was too close to one of them). He added that he later yelled at other guys who tried to do the same as me. We shook hands and I asked him which way I should take to return back to the entrance again and he gave me the directions.
As it might seem that the situation ended in a good way, I am so hurt and still crying up to the moment I am writing this comment. I am feeling intensely humiliated and disrespected.
I expected that even if I was wrong to step into that spot, there was a probability that I was not aware enough of the regulations, or maybe he could talk to me in a decent way and advise me to leave that area.
Your kind response is highly appreciated. Thank you!

September, 2 2023 at 8:19 am

I think you are right- it was racism I'm glad someone came to. your aid after he threw your bag. not all.white people are racists but most racists are white. You were very courageous to go up to him and ask him why he singled you out and why with such anger. You said you were wearing a hijab which implies you are a lady I suspect there is a strong element of misogyny, too.. stay strong x

October, 8 2022 at 3:36 pm

I was walking my dog and a group of men in their 20s walked past. One said “oh it’s a dog walking a dog”. I sarcastically said thank you and he barked at
me. I already have body dysmorphia, so this was very triggering. Why are some people so cruel?

October, 12 2022 at 1:56 pm

Hello Gemma, I am Cheryl Wozny, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog. I am sorry that you've had to experience random verbal abuse while out with your dog. There is no excuse for hurtful comments, and unfortunately, there may not be one reason why someone is so cruel to others. I applaud you for your bravery and for continuing on even when faced with this difficult situation. Please feel free to check out our Resources page… for hotlines and supports in your area to help you on your healing journey.

John Sebastian
September, 15 2022 at 6:57 am

Today in my local park, I was there playing fetch with my dog, only for someone other persons dog who decided to joint in the fun, unfortunately this friendly dog got the sharp end of my dog's aggressive barking. The owner of this dog decided to tell me that my dog was dangerous, I reacted by telling this complete stranger that it is commonsense to have a lead on your dog, when approaching other dogs and people, fact is, he didn't know anything about me or my dog's personality. Well, that didn't go down well, he reacted by threatening me with violence etc..I remembered he had a strong accent, like Polish or Eastern european accent. Anyway I reported the incident to the police, and the park security and their management. Don't worry I am not holding my breath on any response from anyone. Heaton Park Manchester UK, is a sinister place. Watch out for dog owners, they are the worse, mind you not all of them.

November, 20 2022 at 6:38 am

I recently read an article that explained how dog parks and socializing our dogs isn't exactly the best thing for them. I had a recent issue with my dog picking up a bad habit of snipping and growing while playing. She is 4.5 years old and very friendly. This just started this a few months ago after playing with 3 German Shepards who used this behavior. The article pointed out a few issues here. Only a dog owner knows their dog, or so we hope, and some aggressive behaviors (barking, growling, ect.) can also mean your dog is happy and engaged. The article also made sense to me that while dogs are social creatures and pack animals, they don't need to mix with all-dogs and generally can even have anxiety by being put in a closed enviroment with other dogs they do not know. I've been trying to take her on more hikes in open spaces and no dog parks. Well, I may be taking your comment to a different direction. I found it fascinating as someone who also has to deal with irritating dogs and their owners. Cheers!

August, 2 2022 at 11:05 pm

Yesterday I got on the bus and these three teenage boys sat near where I was sitting and kept staring at me and muttering. When I got up off the bus they made gagging noises and so I flipped them off and they flipped me off back, though I regret it now. I know it was because they were homophobic and I was wearing a skirt and while it sounds so lame writing it out it still was unsettling to me. I keep telling myself they were weirdos because of their own insecurities but now I'm worried about using the bus at the time again and worried they might even follow me off the bus next time. I don't know. I was thinking of sitting somewhere else and ignoring them if I next see them, but I'm still anxious about it.

My identity will remain a secret
August, 24 2022 at 10:31 am

Yeah I totally feel you. I remember in 5th grade how I went home by bus and there were 2 teenage boys (around age of 16 I'd say?) mocking me for basically no reason. Not just me, but also another stranger. To be honest, the other stranger did well and went to another seat, but I still stood there (I was scared that they were going to say something like "Omg he's going after her princess" or Idk, because when the other stranger walked away they told me something along the lines "aww you scared her"). To be honest, I don't remember the rest of the conversation, but I know that when they got out of the bus, one of them grabbed my arm and almost pulled me out of the seat. I remember how they laughed while they were leaving the bus. And yes, that was it. Never told anyone about it.
How did I get over it? Well, to be honest, it's not like I'm over it, but this experience became more of a flashback along with many other traumatic events lin my life
Anyway, after that happened, I still used the bus to go back home and luckily I didn't encounter them anymore. However, I'm pretty sure if we had crossed paths again, they'd still act like this. If not with me, with others for sure unfortunately. My advice is to still continue using the bus and hope that they aren't there or that they forgot about you. And try to stay away from them of course. I'd also suggest you to scream for help or something if they corner you or something, however I totally understand if it is hard - every time I am in a situation like this I feel too ashamed of myself to actually scream for help or just to do anything.
I have mainly written this to show you that you're not alone and that your feelings are normal. It is not ok for them to do this, but it is ok for you feel anxious about it!

Brian Tucker
August, 2 2022 at 3:36 pm

I was in Kauai last week on vacation, with my fiance celebrating my birthday. We had a beautiful vacation and it was my first time in Hawaii. On my birthday, I decided to take a ride on a beach cruiser around the resort area alone where we were staying and I was riding my bike minding my own business and enjoying the ride. I passed a few nice people including one man near a golf course said, "Have a nice ride!" I was on the sidewalk and in front of me about 20 feet I saw a small Asian woman and Caucasian woman walking towards me. They were young and in their 20's and looked up and the Asian woman saw me coming towards them and she made this mean face and turned toward her friend, discussing something they obviously did not appreciate, me coming towards them. I have seen this behavior before, in Southern California so I know the "drill", the Asian woman continued walking towards me with her head down, and had this fake smile on her face - they do this behavior when they do not want to make eye contact with a man that they fear, a Black Man, and she was closest to me in passing. I had sunglasses on and I just kept looking forward but as we crossed, I immediately looked at her friend, to make sure that she didn't yell something nasty in my ear - I have experienced that, too. At that moment, the Caucasian women quickens her step and she had this aggressive, hateful look in her eye - she looked like a crazy person for a second. As I passed them, the Caucasian woman screams, "Hell no!" And I kept on riding casually and I never seen them again, even on my way back to the Condo. I did nothing to provoke this treatment but it was obviously racism. Like I said, I have experienced this behavior before but I feel the Asian woman planned and manipulated the whole thing - I saw whole thing 20 feet away unfold. I remember thinking, right after..."Do I really want to report these idiots, call the police and take pictures of them, on my 51st birthday? I figured not and I just ignored them and carried on with my day. I am in great physical shape and was wearing shorts and a tank top but that shouldn't matter. As a Black man, I get into these "situations and altercations" from time time, with Asian-American or Chinese women and Caucasian women more than men, in Southern California. Did I handle this situation correctly, or should I have called them out on their abusive behavior and called the police? I still feel like I was assaulted and I do not like that feeling. Appreciate any feedback.

August, 3 2022 at 12:06 pm

Hi Brian,
Thank you for reaching out to share. I understand that it takes vulnerability to talk about painful encounters, so I appreciate your willingness to be open. I am so sorry that you experienced this treatment, but I want to let you know that you are safe and welcome on this platform. HealthyPlace does not tolerate any abusive or discriminatory behavior of any kind. I hope the rest of your vacation was relaxing, enjoyable, and full of memories.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Blog Comment Moderator

September, 23 2022 at 11:13 pm

Hi Brian, I hope this incident doesn't still plague you. They were racist, rude and intimidating, but I don't think they broke the law so I don't think you would have gotten any resolution in calling the police. The sick thing is they probably told the story later of feeling like you were the bad guy when they imagined and created the whole thing.
I just had a situation happen to me while walking my dogs at 8:40 pm in a small town residential neighborhood where I have lived for almost 20 years. I was really shaken up after being yelled and cursed at for the length of a block with him sicking his dog on us. He had so much vitriol hatred. He and his dog were crouches down a block away. I thought he was holding his dog so we could walk by safely but still decide to go the other direction. As soon as we turned the other direction he stood up and erupted at us verbally. I now think he was actually waiting for to come his direction. I don't know what he would have done. Or maybe he was offended that we didn't go that direction 🤷‍♀️ I don't know why I responded I think I was in shock and originally thought maybe he was on the phone but when he walked in our direction and his words got louder as I walked away I realized he might actually be yelling at me. I said "sincerely, excuse me, are you talking to me" - no attitude at all. "F-right I am B****!" And then spewing more verbal hatred.
His words were vicious and continuous. When he threw a ball in our direction and told his dog to sick us I was really scared but kept walking quickly. When the dog returned I interrupted his assault to say "will you please put your dog on a leash?" I'm such a coward. That's all I had in me on response to the shock that he would send his so our way and keep yelling at us and walking toward us. His words increased. I did not stop but said I was waking if you keep talking to me that way I'm going to call the police. "He started mocking, mimicking and spit sputtering baby talk. He continues until I turned corner which was at least 25 yards. It felt like an eternity. When I turned the corner he said something that I didn't really understand except for the swear words but the tone felt dominating, like he conquered and was proud of himself. He started laying manically. Said some other commands to his dog about us. Said something about still swing me, more vicious words, and laughter. There were a few "that's right, and you can't hang" " you. Can't handle this" spread throughout his cursing. As soon as I felt fat enough away I did call the police. They might charge him with disturbing the peace. They seemed to be familiar with him based upon my description and the location. The policemen asked me what I wanted to happen. This and other words didn't feel comforting or validating. I felt like he said calling was pointless. When I started to say such a thing "should I not have called? Do you think this was acceptable behavior and I should have just let it go" he back tracked and clarified what he meant. I was able to tell.him that he should do whatever he thought would have the greatest effect on communicating that the man's behavior wasn't acceptable and someone deserves to be able to walk their dog without being verbally assaulted and threatened. I did say that I would like him to know that the woman he just yelled at did call the police on him.
The actions didn't make me feel better and talking to the police actually made me feel worse. Maybe I was just processing and would have felt that way at the time regardless of what I was doing. I was too shaken to walk my dogs any further and they were not happy about that.
I googled something in hopes to find peace. I found this forum and you sharing about your own experience. I feel like such a baby. I want to be more mentally tough than this but I guess I have the underline fear of "what would have happened if I kept walking his direction?" What if my daughter walks that way and he doesn't stop with words? Did I do something to spark it and this will happen again with someone else and escalate? I'm trying to control my thoughts and not let him still be scaring me because it was very clear that's what he wanted, but man it's hard!

July, 15 2022 at 7:18 pm

today while walking home with 2 friends a man on a bike called me a fat whore multiple times. He even biked right up to me and started intimidating me verbally. I was heart broken.
I am overweight. I struggle with my weight and body image, almost have had eating disorders.
Having a hard time shaking off the feeling.

July, 18 2022 at 10:31 am

Hello, I am Cheryl Wozny, current author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog here at HealthyPlace. I am sorry that you had to experience that horrible situation. Often intimidation is traumatic, even when it is only verbal. I know how hard it is to ignore the comments from strangers when you are already dealing with low self-esteem, as I have faced the same situation. It can help to talk to someone about it, so it does not affect you further. Our resources page here… has options for you to check out and find the support you need while you deal with verbal abuse and its after-effects.

June, 3 2023 at 7:31 am

The man was a jerk. I know it hurt, however, put it behind you. He thought he was funny. He's probably mentally ill. When people verbally abuse me, I keep in mind that they're not so good looking, even though they think they are, and that they're better than others. Well, they're not.

June, 15 2022 at 5:13 pm

I have dealt with verbal abuse for 35 years because I was born a certain way. It averages at 1 verbal abuse from a stranger every two weeks. Yes, for 35 years. I am 47 years old. Not only this, my demographic is mocked in: hollywood, tv, songs, comedy... anywhere you find human beings. It is something I cannot change with surgery, or diet. In fact, I am in fear of saying what it is here, because people just don't get it.
This week, I have had 8... yes EIGHT verbal attacks. I am angry. I am a decent person and have been for all my life. Respecting others, and extremely aware of not hurting peoples feelings - because I am the bottom of the barrel in society. Society tells me this. Which is strange in a society that goes on about body positivity, racism, trans rights, gay rights, and equality "be nice to everyone". I have been super nice to everyone all my life. So why are people so awful to me. The abuse I've received this week - bare in I am already suicidal at the moment - is starting to turn me bitter. How can a decent person, who was born a certain way get so much hate. Society is duplicitous, double standards. I am sick of it and can not take any more.
I'll reiterate. I had abuse eight times in the last 5 days. I can not go to the shop to buy milk without getting hate. I am sick of being a decent person, I am sick of how duplicitous society is, and I'm sick of living frankly. By duplicitous, I mean.... "be nice and thoughtful to everyone"... "except that one demographic who are born with a certain body type, who frankly us as a society doesn't think should exist"

June, 16 2022 at 11:38 am

Thank you for reaching out to share—I am so sorry that you have been forced to experience such abusive treatment all your life. You are absolutely right, there is no excuse whatsoever for the suffering you endure. Please know that you are welcome in this HealthyPlace community, where abuse is not tolerated in any form. If you need to speak with someone to process further in a confidential dialogue, here is a list of hotline numbers that could be helpful:….
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Comment Moderator

May, 18 2022 at 10:54 am

Verbal abuse from a male neighbour.... I have experienced intimidating behaviour from my male neighbour, at first he appeared pleasant but his behaviour changed. I would hear him shouting and swearing in his house during the day and night, and then there was a period when he started to bang on my front door, when I answered he would yell things like what's wrong or are you ok which was odd and made me nervous. I did try and ask him at a later time if there was a problem but he would slam his front door and not talk with me. In the end I rang the local police more for advise and to make them aware, they were very supportive and made a report saying it was a form of harrassment, their advise avoid contact with him which I do. He still continues to shout when in his house but he no longer bangs on my door, I genuinely believe if I was a man he wouldn't have behaved this way. His male friend stood outside my back gate on Sunday night ringing the bell and shouting at my dogs, I didn't want to confront this man as I live alone but I was glad I'd locked the back gate earlier. Again I have no clue as to why this happened, it really upset me and left me physically shaking and unsettled in my own home.

Verbal abuse
May, 14 2022 at 8:01 am

I’m a black woman, married to a white man. I live in Norway. I’m being abused verbally several times by white Norwegian kids and my husband (who is a big jerk ) never does anything. I feel so bad… well, at least he’ll be waiting forever for affection from my side.

May, 16 2022 at 12:41 pm

Thank you for reaching out to share. I am so sorry to hear that you are experiencing constant verbal abuse and that your husband will not intervene to protect you from this treatment. Please know that you are welcome in this community—there is a place for you here where abuse is not tolerated.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
HealthyPlace Comment Moderator

June, 3 2023 at 7:39 am

I'm surprised to hear of this abuse in Norway. I thought that Norway is liberal?

Verbally Assaulted in CA
May, 9 2022 at 5:25 pm

Just happened to me now. A white male in his full spandex riding a bicycle. I stopped to let him go in front of me and he stopped and started yelling at me for not using my turn signal! My father warned me about the cowardice of men who verbally assault women in the streets because they are too chicken to lash out at males.

February, 6 2022 at 2:05 am

I greatly admire each of you for telling your story. Calling out these experiences affirms that they are realities we have experienced moat unreservedly. People in 2022 are as in 2021 a pretty stressed out crowd. There is a lot of world anxiety, self doubt due to Covid having juggled up our lives, and for many shifts in the areas of life people generally count on for self-affirming vibes. It doesn't permit cruel put-downs to be the way to relieve tension. I find that best response depends on who is with us. I would simply say, Sorry you feel that way and hope the day improves. It is such a waste to try winning over a rude person who you would not wish to befriend, and teaching them a lesson is best let be because too many people are not in a normal state of mind and it can be dangerous. So where strangers are abusive, let it go but if they persist at all (follow you, persist in yelling, or create a big scene to bring more people into the attack leaving you mobbed by rude angry people) get to safety and call the police. Just letting them know gives you a feeling of better safety and alerts them if a serial abuser is developing in town. Use hotlines to discuss your experience too, and allow yourself to feel upset, even angry, but then let it go. They were just a bad odor in life you certainly don't need to hang on to!

December, 7 2021 at 1:02 pm

As someone here said, it's so lonely to be verbally attacked by a stranger. Mine happened 2 days ago and it still twists my stomach up and makes me shake a little. These posts make me feel less alone but I wish the initial article had more advice or resources.

nora raafat
November, 28 2021 at 2:59 am

I also face a lot of verbal abuse and it can be hard in the moment not to internalize and whats worse I live in a small town where people are very entitled and if you don't say hi to everyone or talk to everyone they throw temper tantrums. I saw a man lose his cool because I did not return his smile and women got very verbally abusive and starting hurtling insults at me because I was not paying attention to them looking at me like I am a piece of meat. They were very upset and started talking to each other out loud calling me names hoping to get a rise out of me. An old lady started talking to her husband about me and everyone in the small town immediately launches into gossip and verbal abuse about me whenever I go anywhere but there is nothing I can do. I think these people are very narrow minded. I am not God and they can't make me solve their problems instantly they need to solve their own problems of having no social life. I began putting on headphones so I don't hear the verbal abuse and tirade of gossip and insults hurled my way when I go about my business. Its just a bit too much and I think these people in America are just really entitled and expect one girl to cater to every man and woman in the small town which if you ask me is the dumbest thing ever.

October, 21 2021 at 4:46 am

I could be walking down the street minding my own business when some ramdom stranger will say something inappropriate about me in a loud voice,even when they know i am not listening they will do it more. Some people will laugh because they think it's funny they just want to see you upset.
It seems every time i go out i cannot escape these things that people do to me.
Even when people see me on the opposite side of the street they will intentionally cough at me as i walk past i know it is fake because the more i ignore it the louder it gets.
Whenever i am being insulted by another person people don't really do anything they tend to join in with the person or pretend they don't see it, it can be a very lonely place when dealing with things like this. I have had people's dogs bark at me in the street and the owners never really do anything to stop it. I often ask myslef what could i have done to provoke this animal to behave like this then again i cannot blame the dog because their behaviour is a reflection of it's owner. But it's not just dogs i need to be mindful of but cyclists as well. People on bikes are not socailly aware of the people around them. The number of times i almost got hit by someone on a bike that i while crossing the road or turning the corner can be a frightening experience most cyclist never really acknowledge the danger they put you in they ride off without a care in the world leaving you to deal with the aftermath.
Most people behave like their pets if they are not angrily barking at me for absolutely no reason at all. They want to do what ever they can to make sure you know how they feel about you. Some people have even followed me down the street just to make fun of me this usually happens when i am on my own.
I feel like i can't go anywhere without soneone staring at me or saying something . I tend to aviod alot of places where i know it would draw attention to me. Because the last thing i need is to give people more of a reason to do things.
Going shopping is an altering experince because i encounter alot of troubled individuals. There was a time that the person i was with was inside buying a pair of shoes i decided it would be best if i waited outside. All of sudden i noticed these two guys staring at me from a distance. I heard one of them say she is a slag. As i turned to look at them briefly one of the men was acting in a hostile way. So made sure i had my body turning away from them. The more i stood there the more angry the guy became he kept repeating himslef so i choose not to look at them when my relative came out of the shop i was so reliefed all i wanted to do was get away from the two men who were constantly being abusive. And when they saw the person i was with they did not attempt to say anything else but i knew they were still watching. We went another way so that to avoid giving them any more reason to say anything else.
But this problem seems to happen wherever i go people seem to have real problem with me especially guys because they always have an angry expression on their face. The supermarket is no better because i feel from the moment i step over the freshold i feel as if the staff are immediately judging me. People tend to make a lot negative remarks which i usually brush off pretty well.
Most of the staff are not very engaging and will act like emotionaless statues i try smiling at them and being friendly but i get nothing back. I notice whenever they are around other customers they become a completely differently person they will go out of their way to put on a smile and become more friendly to them. It makes me wonder what i am doing wrong. I try being approachable and friendly but nothing works it does not matter how much i am being myslef it would never be enough for them because they don't see me like anyone else.
I am often ignored when standing in the line most people will jump in front of me and act as if i am not there i find this to be very furstating because certain people have no regards for the fact that you were there before them.
People take alot of time out of their day to stare at you. It's not so much the staring but the fact they can stand their and not say anything. People are fully aware they are doing it and make it apparent they are looking at you. I don't really look at people who do that. It is not a nice feeling knowing people are staring at you but there is not alot i can do about it. People will stare whether you like it not.
The wrost thing to happen to me is when i went to my local corner shop to buy a few things i was waiting in the line when these two individuals came in and tried to jump the cue. The woman who was in front told them that they had to wait in line. Once i finished paying at the counter was about to leave when all of a sudden this man puts his elbow out hitting me in my glasses i could feel the lense press agaisnt my eye.
As i turned to look at the man i wanted to see if he had noticed that he hurt me. He was so oblivious to what he had done because he was too busy talking to the shop keeper i thought the other customers in the shop would had said something to him but no one did so i could only aasume no one else saw what happened. When i left the shop i was pretty shocked because i was never expecting to be elbowed in my glasses.
When i got home i was so upset about had happened i tried so hard not think about what the man did to me. Every negative encounter has really affected how i see people i tend to limit my eye contact or keep my distance from them i rarely go out unless i have to. The more time i spend around people the more dangerous and unpredictable they become. I am alot more happy when I'm on my own than when i am being around other people.

The Pug
June, 28 2022 at 9:25 pm

That's terrible. But we want you to know you're not the only one. In fact I had another similar situation in an eyeglass store of all places today! I think it's also a form of aggression that is becoming more and more common, we see it a lot in the news and it's nothing actually new. I am in my 50s and am vulnerable as well as have disabilities. But it happens to most of us. Are you just have to not see yourself as being a victim and do whatever you can to get out of that situation and to also be prepared, for when these things happen what you would do and will do. I'm certainly a lot happier on my own and not being around others, but you can't live your life in fear. I've had these negative experiences my whole life and try not to take them personal when I see that they've never really gone away. You just have to be smart, be aware and protect yourself and be very logical. Sometimes you can make a report online if you don't have to go to law enforcement, for example in the case of an aggressive stranger or driver. Sometimes if a bad experience occurs in a business or public place you can leave a review about it. Don't feel like a victim or allow the experience or situation to go without a purpose as you can help others with it. If somebody ever touches you physically or causes any sort of physical damage you need to do something about it, immediately. And either of these cases verbally or physically it's an assault and you don't have to tolerate it. I even had a very similar experience in an airport once. A man laughed at me and he hit me in the head, I had a hat on the time but for no reason at all he smacked me on the brim of my hat and laughed at me. Why I didn't go to security I didn't know but I was so shocked and so jolted by the experience and he was on camera so he couldn't have denied it. You just need to be very aware of your surroundings and take a proactive if not post active stance on anything that happens. I would have gone to security right away but that happened years ago so it's kind of too late now. Just tell them that behavior is not okay and if they escalate that's fine, you'll just go to law enforcement. Don't be a victim.

S Collins
October, 16 2021 at 9:33 pm

With the level of verbal abuse that I see on the news from some people in the US, this sort of advice seems inadequate

Living Life…
September, 26 2021 at 3:51 am

I’ve been verbally attacked a few times by men this year. Standing on line @ Trader Joe’s. I thought the man was standing in line behind me, I turned around because he was standing closer than normal. His teeth clenched and growling “So are you gonna f’in move! …F you B!…” He had other options to get to the meat bread aisle. I saw people in line watching in horror. I yelled back @ him, “No one is in your way! Learn some manners you A’hole !.” & Today while crossing the street, a man in his truck at the red light called out & waved me down. He had a big smile on his face, so I thought he was going to give me a compliment or flirt. Looked professional. He was asking me for directions. I said “These are only street names not street numbers” he started hollering, “You stupid B! I didn’t ask you for a street name! Etc…” I stepped back & realized he was out his mind walked away & thought why he couldn’t google his own directions. He wanted my attention. My new strategy is to completely ignore people in these New York City streets to avoid these random rages, even if they “look” normal & nicely dressed.

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