Victims of verbal abuse are severely wounded and humiliated

Verbal abusers use all their verbal skill to confuse, control and disarm their victims. They are blatantly unfair, they rule out any opposing viewpoint, and they make the victim feel stupid. They distort the victim’s judgment and make them feel that there is something wrong with them. They make statements like ‘you have no sense of humour’, ‘you are too soft’, ‘grow up’, ‘you have no common sense,’ ‘you have a big mouth’, and so on. Sometimes they humiliate in a humorous or sarcastic way. This denigration will reinforce a pre-existing low self-worth fostered in childhood.
Victims of verbal abuse find that they have no say in any discussion with their abuser. They may wish to discuss something, but the controlling abuser prevents communication, using dismissive remarks such as ‘you know nothing about this’, ‘that’s ridiculous’, or ‘I don’t wish to talk about that’. Such dismissal is painful when one’s need to communicate is stifled and controlled. This hurt and confusion are magnified by the judgemental attitude of the verbal abuser, who blames the victim for arguments, or uses subtle phrases to make him or her feel small and stupid. I have met victims whose abusers denied their blatantly abusive behaviour.
I mentioned in a previous chapter that abusive personality types feel entitled to do as they wish with their victims, and to exert full control over them. They dictate how the victims should live, what they should wear, and how they should behave. Verbal abusers make snide remarks about the victims’ clothes, views, and behaviours. Indeed as anger builds up inside the verbal abuser, he or she will strike with venomous words, in much the same way as a physical abuser strikes. This striking out is the angry and vicious verbal assault of the tiny abandoned child in the powerful adult body.
Normally verbal abuse occurs in a private setting, although it can happen in public, where it is often expressed non-verbally. Non-verbal abuse resembles emotional abuse. These non-verbal messages include gestures, frowns, narrowing of the eyes, lifted eyebrows, scowls, sneering expressions, threatening expressions, and body movements. Frowning, for example, conveys a warning and a message of fear to the victim of what may be in store in a more private setting. It conveys the abuser’s anger and displeasure.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

Posted in abuse, verbal abuse
Tags: ,