Although verbal abuse does not leave black eyes or visible bruises, it is often more seriously damaging to your self-image. Verbal abuse is cruel and scars your soul. Many women never discuss verbal abuse. Indeed, some do not even recognize that they are being verbally abused.
If you've heard, "You're too sensitive," you've heard verbal abuse. Although many people have heard "sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us," those who have suffered from verbal abuse know that words do hurt and can be as damaging as physical blows are to the body. The scars from verbal assaults can last for years. They are psychological scars that leave people unsure of themselves, unable to recognize their true value and talents, and sometimes unable to adapt to life's many challenges.
Except for name-calling, many people don't recognize verbal abuse -- especially when it comes from a person they believe loves them or from a person they perceive as an authority figure; or when it comes from a person who is in a position of power, for example, one's boss, a family provider, one's parent, or even an older sibling that one has learned to look up to in childhood.
Unfortunately, when people don't recognize verbal abuse for what it is, they may try to get the person who is putting them down, giving them orders, or "correcting," denouncing, yelling at, or ignoring them to understand them. Or, they may try to stop them by giving it back in kind. In other words, they may act out their anger.
Since, in the majority of cases, people who indulge in verbal abuse are selective about whom they abuse, many people are surprised to hear that someone is experiencing ongoing and periodic abuse from someone they know and have always seen as nice and friendly. "Nice and friendly" is the persona of many an abuser. Although many folks are as nice and friendly as they seem, some are not.
A verbal abuser may say, "You made me...," or "You're trying to control me," or "You're trying to start a fight." Verbal abuse attempts to create self-doubt. "You don't know what you're talking about," "You don't have a sense of humor," "You can't take a joke," "You're too sensitive," "You're crazy." More and more organizations that help the victims of battering realize that verbal abuse precedes domestic violence. Thousands of battered people have said that the hurt of verbal abuse lasted longer than the bruises of physical abuse. Verbal abuse is a kind of violence that creates a deep emotional pain and mental anguish that can be immobilizing. If you are in a verbally abusive relationship and need support, whether or not you have been battered, we recommend that you contact the SCSU Women's Center at (203) 392-6946 so support and referrals can be provided.
For more information, please contact the Women's Center at (203) 392-6946.