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Verbal Abuse

When people think about abuse they tend to think of something physical or sexual but verbal abuse is almost certainly more common.

Whilst any sort of verbal attack is unwelcome and unpleasant, abuse is not about one off or rare situations. It is sustained unpleasantness and even bullying over a prolonged period.

Nearly all couples or friends have arguments and sometimes strong words are said. The odd argument is not abuse, even if swear words are hurled – especially if the person who said the bad things is apologetic afterward and lovingly tries to correct it. Typically, an abuser is male and the victim is female, but there are many cases of women verbally abusing men or of same-sex abuse.

Victims can be anyone of any age, class, profession, race, nationality, gender or sexuality.

How do you know when you are being verbally abused?

Verbal abuse

Ask yourself:

Does the insult my partner or colleague just aimed at me reveal that they have a lack of respect, love and value for me, or are we just having a row that we will later both be highly embarrassed about?


Is what they said part of a pattern? Does it feel general or specific? Does the Abuser apologise if they have hurt me and try to make it up?

What is Verbal Abuse Really About?

In a similar fashion to anger, only the abuser is responsible for his or her abuse. You are entitled to your feelings. Verbal abusers are masters at blame, judgement, criticism, manipulation, projecting shame and assigning guilt. If you have done something wrong or silly, a sensitive adult will address this in an adult way – realising that we all make mistakes. They will not turn a small event into a character assassination. However, the plain fact is that most verbal abuse springs from the least excuse or from nowhere at all.

Verbal abuse is about power and control. An abuser will deny the behaviour because they will not want to undermine their hold over you and will be:

Abusers are generally unhappy people who have empathy and anger problems. They will project their own issues (often stemming from childhood) onto another, partly as a form of denial that it is them who have the problem.

If you or someone you know needs more information or help, come to the Portland Centre, where you will find genuine support to sustain you whilst you regain control of your life.

This is how we can help you

What next?

Just call us on 01305 824333 or e-mail us using our contact form or pop in to see a Portland Centre staff member to receive immediate assistance.