Verbal abuse is a form of abusive behaviour involving the use of language. It is a form of Profanity that can occur with or without the use of expletives.
Abusers may ignore, ridicule, disrespect, and criticize others consistently; manipulate words; purposefully humiliate; falsely accuse; manipulate people to submit to undesirable behaviour; make others feel unwanted and unloved; threaten economically; place the blame and cause of the abuse on others; isolate victims from support systems; harass; demonstrate Jekyll and Hyde behaviours, either in terms of sudden rages or behavioural changes, or where there is a very different “face” shown to the outside world vs. with victim.
While oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse, it includes abusive words in written form.
Verbal Abuse also occurs when one person uses words and body language to inappropriately criticize another person. Verbal abuse often involves ‘putdowns’ and name-calling intended to make the victim feel they are not worthy of love or respect, and that they do not have ability or talent. If the victim speaks up against these statements, they are often told that the criticisms were “just a joke”, and that it is their own problem that they do not find the joke funny. They may also be told that no abuse is happening; that it is “all in their head”. Verbal abuse is dangerous because it is often not easily recognized as abuse, and therefore it can go on for extended periods, causing severe damage to victim’s self-esteem and self-worth. Damaged victims may fail to take advantage of opportunities that would enrich their lives because they come to believe they are not worthy of those opportunities.