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What is verbal abuse?

Verbal abuse is often a component of domestic violence and can have a devastating effect on a person’s psyche over time. It can be hard to recognize the signs of verbal abuse, especially for people who’ve been subject to it for many years. To ensure you get the help you need, Psychology Today offers the following information on different types of verbal abuse.

Abuse parading as jokes

Jokes can be harmful, especially when they belittle or harshly criticize. Many abusers will use cruel words only to claim that they were meant jokingly. Regardless of the intent, abusive jokes should not be a part of a healthy relationship. Additionally, labeling something as a joke doesn't make it any less hurtful, especially when jokes are very cruel or personal in nature.

Trivializing a person’s feelings

Romantic partners are supposed to support each other in a relationship. If yours constantly calls into questions aspects of your life or the validity of your feelings, he or she could be trivializing. Undermining is another component of this form of abuse. After so long, the victim of abuse may question her opinions and feelings regarding all sorts of matters, which only gives the abuser more power.

Threats and name calling

Threats don’t have to involve physical violence. Threats can involve any negative consequence, which is usually caused by the victim’s inability to behave accordingly. For instance, if all arguments are met with threats of leaving or divorce, this can be construed as abusive behavior. Name calling is another factor to be aware of. Most people are able to have arguments with their spouses without resorting to name calling. This can impact a person’s self-esteem and leave them more vulnerable to further abuse. 

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