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Words are powerful! But what about the words that are used during verbal abuse? Words matter, sometimes uplifting and motivating you, but they can also make you mad, sad, confused, and vulnerable.

If someone is communicating with you in a way that impacts your mental health, they are behaving in an abusive way. Verbal abuse comes under emotional abuse, badly affecting a person’s psychological health. Verbal abuse is a sign of maintaining control and power over another person.

Name-calling, belittling behaviours, put-downs, and yelling all come under verbal abuse. People are abused regularly and do not even realize it is happening until it’s too late. Verbal abuse can occur in any relationship: parent-child, family, and co-worker.

Verbal abuse comes before physical abuse; however, this is not always the case. Verbal abuse can also exist without any signs of physical abuse. The impact of verbal abuse is as damaging as that of domestic violence. In this blog, we will explore more about verbal abuse, its effects, and coping strategies.

What is Verbal Abuse?

What is Verbal Abuse

Alisa has been quiet for the past few weeks. Usually, she is chirpy and jolly. You have been teaching Alisa for years and are concerned about her behaviors, as you have always seen her as a happy kid. You learn that Alisa’s parents divorced last month, and she lives with her father and step-mother. You ask Alisa to stay back after her class, and you ask her to see if everything is okay at her home. she confides in you and starts crying. Alisa narrates that her step-mother constantly calls her good for nothing and really bad words. She calls her idiot, stupid, and whatnot!

Now, you know the definition of verbal abuse! Alisa is a victim of verbal abuse.

Exerting power, taking control over another person, or using words to threaten, belittle, confuse, criticize, intimidate, insult, etc.’ comes under verbal abuse. Getting constant verbal abuse from someone can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, bipolar disorder, etc.

Is verbal abuse the same as emotional abuse?

Is verbal abuse the same as emotional abuse

Verbal abuse is a type of abuse and a form of psychological and emotional abuse. Emotional abuse does not always include abusive and derogatory remarks. However, emotional abuse displays controlling behaviour, signs of potential domestic violence, and leads to reactive abuse.

For example, preventing someone from receiving necessary medical care or not letting someone meet their loved ones comes under emotional abuse.

Ways to deal with Verbal Abuse:

Ways to deal with Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is a form of emotional abuse that disregards the other person’s feelings and thoughts. However, if you are being abused or bullied at any point, you must take steps to remove yourself from such an abusive situation. Standing up for yourself is right, and one must not make you feel disrespected. Below are some ways to deal with verbal abuse.

1. Walk Right Away:

The first step to stop the verbal abuse simultaneously is to walk away. Just walk away when someone tries to demotivate or hurt you with words or derogatory remarks. Without responding, leave the room at the same moment.

It is important to let the person know that they are abusing you, but when the situation is fumed up, walk away from that person. Expressing opinions and feelings is good, but there are times when there is no option other than just leaving.

2. Calling Out the Abusive Behaviour:

Yes, name it out loud. If you feel that the person will physically hurt you, and you are safe, you must call out the behaviour. If someone is in a position of power over you, such as your manager, it might not be a sane decision to call them out directly, as it can put your job in threat. In such a situation, discussing the abusive behavior with a neutral party or top management is important.

You can also call out the behaviour in a calm and composed manner. You can ask your manager to be a bit more polite and feel criticized, shattering your confidence. It is better to be clear with the person who is abusing you. Let them know that their behaviour is not acceptable.

3. Be Firm and Clear with Your Words:

Sometimes, speaking gently does not work; hence, asking the individual to stop the abusive behaviour more firmly is important. “Stop insulting me like that, it makes me feel low.” clearly communicate the feelings to stop the abusive behaviour.

The clearer you are with your request, the less easy it is for the other person to deny that they are abusive. You never know; maybe the person who is abusing you has no idea that you are being hurt by their words. Calling out emotional and upsetting experiences makes you stronger about the situation.

4. Do Not Engage Directly with The Abuser:

There are cases when the abuser is clearly meant to hurt you. The individual will also belittle, insult, and humiliate you in public, and they want the victim to be mean back. If you start calling out with the same behaviour, the verbal abuse will not escalate. It is like adding fire to the fire.

Do your best not to engage directly, do not talk back, and remain calm. Yes, it is tough to remain calm, especially when someone is provoking us, but the best way to deal with an abusive situation and person is not to escalate the situation. Take deep breaths, and keep thinking you do not need to communicate with such a person.

5. Set Boundaries:

Setting boundaries is important, no matter whether you are going through any abuse or not. Having boundaries in life is essential as it makes your life more composed. Boundaries are not about telling someone they can’t be disrespectful towards you, but it is more about letting them know that if they try to cross the boundaries, serious consequences will be attached.

For example, if you do this again or behave like this one more time, I will not talk to you anymore. Or if someone is abusing you in the office, “If you continue with this behaviour, I am going to report you to higher management.”

6. Enforcing The Boundaries:

Yes, you have set the boundaries, but what’s next? The person who is verbally abused is still doing the same!

This means that the boundaries are not enforced and such boundaries are meaningless.

When a boundary is crossed, you must take action. Even if the abuse is unintentional, you have told them their remarks hurt your feelings. If they continue the same thing, you must take action.

Common Mistakes that Ignite Abuse:

Common Mistakes that Ignite Abuse

It is important to understand the degree of the abuse and the motive of the abuser. Most of the time, people take verbal abuse lightly because they feel it will harm the relationship. However, it is important to stop the abuse and let the abuser know you are being hurt. Below are some common mistakes that contribute more to the abuse.

  1. Pleasing the abuser: Victims try to please the abuser to resolve the conflict and anger. They do stuff to make their abuser happy. Pleasing the abuser will give them more power and an opportunity to control. Pleading and begging comes under the same tactic.
  2. Arguing: Arguing escalates the matter. It is like giving them more to talk about. Arguing and talking back will make you feel more victimized, hurt and hopeless. At times, arguing with the abuser takes verbal abuse to physical abuse.
  3. Explaining and Defending: When you are blamed and when someone is attacking you without any reason, it is natural that you start defending yourself. Explaining and defending leads to more abuse. Do not seek approval, and do not explain and defend your actions.


Verbal abuse doesn’t need to come with much yelling and heated discussions. Verbal abuse can also be quiet and subtle. It can come in various forms, such as jokes, remarks, and comments, and it could even be delivered with a toxic smile. It is important to understand the severity of the abuse and take action, as verbal abuse can affect mental health.


Is verbal abuse a crime?

It is not a crime but it can easily turn into one. If you feel like the abuse is too much and you cannot handle the pressure, try to communicate with the abuser or immediately report it to the authorities.

What are some common verbal abuse examples?

Verbal abuse is a form of emotional abuse. Common examples of verbal abuse are belittling, passing comments, derogatory remarks, hurtful words, taunts, and toxicity.

Is verbal abuse a big deal?

Yes, it is. It may not seem like a big deal in the initial stage, but it can have a long-term effect on mental health. Verbal abuse is a form of emotional abuse, and it can also lead to physical abuse.

Lisa Clontz

Author Lisa Clontz

Lisa Clontz is an experienced Executive Director at Shelter Home of Caldwell County, specializing in providing shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence, child support, rape, and sexual assault. With her years of expertise, Lisa passionately assists women and children, helping them access the necessary resources and care they need. Her unwavering commitment to creating a safe environment and empowering survivors has made her an invaluable advocate in the community.

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