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?
- You probably have a feeling that your partner of colleague is constantly undermining you
- You may feel that even small matters are widened out into being character assaults
- You may feel that you are being disempowered, disrespected or devalued
- Abusers say that you are being “over-sensitive” or “misunderstanding the message.”
- Abusers often ascribe motives to your actions which you do not recognise within yourself – for instance calling your wish for a quiet moment in a busy day, “another instance of your laziness,” or calling you a “******* ****” when you drop a plate or stall the car.
- Many abusers know how to be charming and in between moments of abuse, you may feel that things have been changed for the better and be lulled into a false sense of security
- Hardly any abuser is constantly abusive – it is how bad it gets, rather than how often it happens that really counts
- Abusers may openly laugh at your dreams and values
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:
- Childishness - sticking their fingers in their ears
- Dismiss your feelings
- Ridicule you
- Shout over you
- Issue further insults
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
- A Portland Centre staff member will listen to your problem and discuss your options
- We will seek specialist advice
- If you need extra support, we will accompany you to meetings and appointments
- We will continue to support you throughout the journey to regain control of your life
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.