Verbal abuse is an assault that uses spoken language instead of fists or weapons. It's intent is to do harm. The words can be blatantly cruel, disguised as humor, or delivered with cunning deception. It can yell, or whisper. No matter what form it takes, it can be difficult to recognize it for what it is if we're already dealing with an injured sense of self.
Though an argument can be verbally abusive, not all arguments are. Everyone argues now and again. How are you to know the difference?
Normal arguments allow us to air our concerns with the goal of resolution. They allow us to voice our side and hear the side of another. They allow us to work through and to resolve. They are a give and take from both sides. That's not to imply that a normal argument is devoid of hurt or truths that we may not be comfortable hearing or dealing with.
Abusive arguments have no intention of resolution. Their aim is to hurt, belittle, manipulate, weaken, destroy, confuse, and control. They are a form of emotional abuse. Often, the abuser will tell you how you should feel and what you should think. More likely than not, intimidation and blame are used to manipulate and oppress. It is quite common for the abuser to get louder, and more expressive, in order to force submission from the victim.
Verbal abuse is a cunning, psychological attack.
The wounds that develop from verbal abuse are not physically obvious. They are internal. They destroy the spirit and self-esteem of the abused. Over time a victim of verbal abuse may alter dress, speech, and behavior in order to avoid more conflict. They may isolate, pulling away from family and friends. They may begin to actually believe the words they've been assaulted with.
How do you protect yourself from verbal abuse?
Learn to identify it. Know the difference between constructive criticism and a verbal attack.
Nurture your self-esteem and believe in your right to be treated with respect no matter what.
Do not engage in the attack.
Remove yourself from the situation. (leave the room, leave the house).
Do not delude yourself into believing you can change the abuser. Leave that up to the professionals.
Make a back up plan that includes a place to go (friends, family, etc).
See a counselor for yourself.
Contact support: Domestic Violence: Hotlines, Websites, Organizations
Be aware: Verbal abuse may eventually escalate into physical violence.
When confronted with the negative, disrespectful, or abusive words of another take a moment to consider if perhaps their words have more to do with their own dysfunction than they do with you. We don't have to own what is said to us. We don't have to let it become a part of our self-definition. Listen with an honest, discerning, and self-respecting ear. An abusive assault is never intended to heal.MrsM.
picsource: dbphotography http://www.flickr.com/photos/demibrooke/2336528544/