How to Know You Are Being Verbally Abused

Most of us acknowledge and agree that communication is essential to the health and sustenance of our relationships. Without it, there is no way to measure just how healthy the relationship is, whether or not it sustains us, if it needs work, or if it should be dissolved (Yep – sometimes it’s best to dissolve it). If people involved in a relationship aren’t telling and/or showing what they’re feeling, then how on earth is anyone to know where the relationship stands? Not knowing where you stand in a relationship is like standing in a room blackened with total darkness — you are unable to move forward into the light of understanding, step back out of the line of fire, or take necessary steps in order to avoid potential pitfalls because you can’t see anything.

Our physical communication demonstrates, through action, those things, feelings, desires, and fears that we want others to know about. Our verbal communication is the way in which we articulate what we want, expect, or will reject. I think we can all agree that physical abuse is an absolute deal-breaker in a relationship. First of all, physical abuse is injurious, and the scars are visible as well as disfiguring. We re-act quicker to physical pain because it is tangible. There is very little question when it comes to physical abuse in a relationship. It hurts, destroys, maims, and sometimes kills. So, most of us know (or should know) to head for the hills if confronted with physical abuse. Even those who refuse to leave such a relationship know that it is wrong, destructive, and possibly lethal.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people who are subject to verbal abuse and accept it by refusing to acknowledge what it is. When the question is posed to them about whether or not there is abuse in the relationship, some people will quickly respond with “No, he/she has never hit me.” Well guess what — he/she doesn’t ever have to lay a hand on you if they are verbally abusing you because the effects of verbal abuse are just as, if not more damaging than physical abuse. It is possible for the bruise, broken arm, or blackened eye (as devastating as they may be) to heal with little to no scarring. However, verbal abuse is like the debilitating disease, “Hypertension.” Verbal abuse is a Silent Killer. Its symptoms are often veiled to the point where there is no early detection. By the time its victims realizes what’s going on, some major damage has been done and the healing process is daunting.

Just like hypertension, if it is allowed to reach the chronic stage, the damage from verbal abuse is irreversible. There are some individuals who have never recovered from it. Given the opportunity they may tell you that one of the reasons they stayed in the relationship was because they didn’t know or understand the devastation of verbal abuse. They thought they could handle it; thought they were “getting through” it; thought it wasn’t that bad or; thought, “At least he/she is not beating me”. In the end, they wound up feeling as though their spirit, will to live, or outlook on life was murdered. They are left to feel like the walking dead.

Verbal abuse is unacceptable, and the way we win the war against it is to know what it is. If you can identify it, then you know what type of action is necessary in order to save yourself. If you are in a verbally abusive relationship, it is all about saving you because the abuser is using verbal warfare to beat you into subjection. Face it, if abuse (verbal or physical) is going on in the relationship, its you or them.

How do you know when you are being verbally abused? Well, the answers will include some behaviors we may have become accustomed to or accept as harmless in our relationships. Some of us want to believe these answers can be dealt with or tolerated. However, overtime, these Silent Killer symptoms of the verbally abusive relationship will take their toll on the physical body with the same dire consequences as physical abuse. The anxiousness and stress of verbal abuse can manifest in forms such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, or a number of behavioral/emotional disorders. The healthy relationship is all about “Life” and the Silent Killer called Verbal Abuse has no place in it.

YELLING is not conversation. In a relationship you are expecting to have stimulating, inspirational, motivational, or enlightening conversation. When someone is yelling at us, they are screaming, roaring, hollering, or screeching at us. All of these forms of communication are abusive, irritating, abrasive, or offensive. No one looks forward to these types of verbal exchanges because they all imply negative encounters such as conflict, disagreement, or hostility. No one screams, roars, screech or bellows out at someone who them appreciate, value, or love. Yelling is bad enough in private, but when this happens in public, it conveys to the world that those involved in the yelling are willing to broadcast to others their disrespect, resentment, or loathing of one another.

Verbal abuse involves conversation that is CONDESCENDING. When someone speaks to you in a manner that is patronizing, disdainful or snobbish, the intent is to make you feel like you do not measure up to his/her standards. Remember that in the relationship you are supposed to be partners, meaning both of you are on equal footing, which means that you don’t have to measure up – you should already be there. If your mate must verbally feed you toxic conversation, then he/she is attacking your self-esteem, self-worth, or confidence. A friend or lover does not want their friends, family, or mate to have low-self esteem, feelings of worthlessness, or low to no confidence. That’s what an adversary wants for those whom he/she verbally abuses.

Verbal abuse will DEMORALIZE you. When someone wants to feel good about him/herself at your expense by intimidating you, upsetting you, or keeping you in a frightened state with abusive language, they want to demoralize you. For example, the constant threat of leaving the relationship is meant to frighten you. Every time the verbal threat is spoken, the intent is to frighten you back in line, reduce you to begging, or makes you so sick that you wind up in bed miserable about the possible break-up. Think about it – when these threats go on for extended periods of time, they can be for no other reason than to repeatedly cause emotional injury. If the other person wanted to leave, they most likely would have left the first time the threat was made. However, they continue to stay in the relationship and use every opportunity to frighten you with the threat of leaving. Every time you hear the threat, all kinds of negative things happen to you emotionally as well as physically.

NEGATIVE CRITICISM. We are all entitled to our opinions. However, trust your instincts when it comes to criticism. We know when criticism is constructive, and when it is meant to attack our confidence, make us feel unattractive, or instill a sense of worthlessness. When someone speaks to you in a manner that diminishes you in any way, they are not giving you constructive criticism. Whenever criticism is constructive, your positives are always mentioned in the conversation.

Never seek to distinguish verbal abuse from physical abuse. They are equally brutal, injurious and lethal. Both of them deliver punishment that none of us deserve. We have to be as aware of silent killers such as verbal abuse, as we are of those injuries that are tangible. Words have the power to heal or hurt. No matter how you feel about someone, there is no rule in heaven or on earth that requires you to accept verbal abuse.

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