Verbal and Emotional Abuse
Verbal and emotional abuse essentially involves using verbal communication to negatively affect a person’s emotional state. In many regards verbal and emotional abuse is often thought of as taking place in the home. That is, it is thought of as occurring between spouses (or romantic partners), or from parents to children. However, verbal abuse can also take place in the work place, such as from a boss to an employee or between coworkers. It can also take place between business partners, teammates, or even amongst friends.
Verbal and emotional abuse can involve several similar and overlapping behaviors. It commonly involves yelling or screaming at you, often while using profanity. It can also involve inducing shame and/or guilt in you, which can be done through intentionally demeaning or humiliating you in public. Emotional abuse also occurs though insulting or belittling you, which can often entails making condescending or degrading comments about you. At a more extreme end, making threats against you is a form of emotional abuse. These threats can entail threatening physical harm, retaliation, or some other future action against you.
There are several ways in which verbal and emotional abuse affect people. Among the most common impacts are the damage that they have on your self-image and self-esteem. Over time repeated verbal abuse can lead to increased levels of stress. This, in turn, can result in considerable anxiety and depression, as well as associated concerns such as difficulty with sleep or increased irritability. When it happens in childhood or adolescence emotional abuse can fundamentally shape your self-identify and how you relate with others in the future.
It is important to realize that not all abuse looks the same, and the abuse that you experience could be different from what is described above. That does not make it any less painful for you. If you feel that someone is not treating you well but are unsure of whether it qualifies as abuse, it can still be helpful to talk with someone about your experiences.
Fortunately verbal and emotional abuse can be addressed in therapy. Therapy helps you identify the negative statements and thoughts that you have internalized about yourself. It then helps you challenge those thoughts, and replace them with a healthier and more appropriate self-image. Therapy also validates the insecurities that can result from the abuse, and help you develop a more positive view of yourself. If the emotional abuse is an ongoing occurrence in your life, therapy can help you develop effective ways to respond to the person in an assertive and proactive manner.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and informative purposes only, and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment. Only a qualified mental health professional can render a diagnosis and provide adequate treatment for verbal or emotional abuse.