When people think of abusive relationships, they usually think of the more obvious kind of abuse… they think of one person hitting the other, causing them to get a black eye and/or have bruises all over their body. Yes, physical abuse is terrible, and it unfortunately it happens a lot. But it isn’t the only type of abuse out there.
No matter who it is, nobody should ever do any of the following to you or anyone else:
- call you names
- put you down
- yell/scream at you
- embarrass you in public/in front of friends
- keep you from seeing/talking to your family and friends
- tell you what to do/wear
- blame you for anything they do
- stalk you
- threaten you
- start rumors about you
- make you feel guilty
Whether it’s your boyfriend/girlfriend, parent, family member, friend, or anyone else, if they are continually doing any of these things to you, it’s verbal abuse. It’s one thing when someone says something mean once or twice, apologizes, and then stops doing it… but when they do it several times, apologize, do it again, apologize again, do it again, and it turns into a never ending cycle… then it’s a serious problem.
Although verbal abuse doesn’t cause you to get a swollen eye or bruises on your body, it causes emotional pain and scarring. When someone treats you so poorly, it gets to you and makes you feel like crap. It can completely destroy your self-esteem and confidence in yourself and your abilities. It can cause you to become depressed, a drug addict or alcoholic, sexually promiscuous, or even physically violent. When people are verbally abused during childhood and/or adolescence, they often carry those emotions into adulthood and form trust issues with people they have a relationship with. Victims of verbal abuse usually isolate themselves from other people to at least some extent.
The bottom line is that abuse is never justified. That goes for any type of abuse. It doesn’t matter what you did, what you said, how you dress, who you hung out with… it is never okay for anybody to treat somebody like that. Never blame yourself. If your significant other, parent, or whoever it is has a problem with anything you’re doing, they can choose to talk to you about it in mature, healthy way. No matter what the situation is, it is their choice to deal with it in such an inappropriate way and that is not your fault. You do not deserve it.
If you think you are being verbally abused, or if you have a friend who is, here’s what you can do:
- Let the abuser know how hurtful their words are. Just try talking to them. Make sure they know how everything they say affects you. Hopefully they will actually listen to you and take your feelings into consideration. Sometimes people will apologize and stop, but sometimes they will deny it: if they say anything like ” you’re too sensitive,” “you’re exaggerating,” “that didn’t happen,” or “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” then just stop. They are trying to manipulate you and make you feel like it’s all your fault. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t just talk to abusers… but you can at least try.
- Surround yourself with a support system. Tell close family and friends what’s going on. They will reassure you that it’s not your fault, and that the things the abuser is saying about you aren’t true. They can help you restore your self-esteem and confidence in yourself. They could also potentially help you confront the abuser, and/or get help from someone at school, a counselor or therapist, or the authorities.
- Stay calm and walk away. When somebody is yelling hateful things to you, of course it’s easy to get angry and talk smack back to them. But really, that’s what they want.. a reaction from you. Don’t give that to them. Don’t give them the power and satisfaction of knowing that they got to you. As hard as it may be, just leave. If the abuse is going on in your home, go stay with friend or relative for a while. Or you can even go for a walk or a run, or to a coffee shop. Just go somewhere where you can breath, relax, and maybe talk to somebody about it for a while.
- Get help from a school counselor. Explain the situation to your counselor. They’ll know exactly what you should do. They can refer you to counseling, give advice, or contact authorities if there’s abuse going on at home. You don’t have to know how to figure this out on your own, so get help.
- Don’t allow them to control how you feel. After a while of being told you’re stupid and worthless, or fat and ugly, or whatever else, naturally you’ll begin to feel that way. Don’t give anyone the power to make you feel negatively about yourself. You need to realize that they don’t REALLY even think those things about you… it isn’t even about you, it’s about them. There’s something else very wrong going on with THEM. Maybe they’re actually jealous of you in some way, or they feel bad about themselves so they want you to feel bad about yourself. Do not let them control you.
Again, nobody deserves any type of abuse… never, ever. Sometimes verbal abuse is a little harder to recognize, but if you’re in any type of relationship where you find yourself being put down, feeling threatened, not valued, and straight up crappy about yourself, especially if this is going on all the time… you need to get help. Don’t make excuses for the other person, just get help.