A Series on Domestic Violence and Abuse Part 2: Emotional and Verbal Abuse

Diana WinklerDomestic Violence

You can read Part 1 here.

The Agony of Emotional Abuse

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me!

You may have believed the familiar song you may have sung in grade school, but by now as an adult you have figured out that none of it is true. The fact is, verbal abuse does a lot of damage. Bruises and broken bones will heal within a short time, but the effects of verbal and emotional abuse can last a lifetime.

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“You are stupid.”

“You’re nothing but a whore.”

“No one will ever love you for who you are.”

“I own you.”

When you always hear these things about yourself, you eventually believe them. This can result in a variety of outcomes:

  • Lack of self confidence or self worth
  • Making poor choices
  • Depression
  • Poor performance in school
  • Trouble making friends
  • Rebellion against authority
  • Not able to get a job

If you don’t think you are worthy of respect, then you won’t demand that people treat you with respect. If you don’t feel valuable, you won’t choose a spouse or even a friend that values you as a person. If you can’t communicate your skills or talents to a potential employer, you won’t get that job or promotion. If you don’t have hope for the future, you will suffer from depression.

Have You Experienced Any Of These Things?

  • Humiliation-Belittling in public about your physical characteristics, flaws or personality, handicaps, making you look bad to your peers,  shaming you
  • Intimidation and threats-of violence to yourself, your family, your pets, and themselves.
  • Narcissism-Wearing a mask, pretending everything is great in public, but won’t deal with the real issues behind closed doors. Deceiving people about who they really are in private. These people usually seem very charming.
  • Gaslighting-the abuser denying something actually happened to you, challenges your perception of reality, makes you think you’re crazy.
  • Criticism
  • Insults
  • Cursing
  • Taking away your choices-Where to work, where to live, who your friends are, what to wear
  • Domination-The common denominator of abuse is excessive control over another person.
  • Jealousy-Accusing you of having imaginary affairs, not being able to have plutonic friendships, checking your phone, being overly possessive or clingy.
  • Online Bullying-social media posting lies about you, calling you names, hacking your account, posting compromising pictures
  • Stalking-following you, calling you at work, bugging your phone, tracking your car
  • No affection-no hugs, kisses, holding hands, sexual intimacy, terms of endearment,
  • Isolation-keeping you away from family, work, and friends is a way abusers maintain power over their victims. You don’t have anyone noticing what’s wrong and intervening for you.
  • Manipulation-Someone making you do things that you don’t want to do by guilt, fear, blackmail
  • Destruction of property-damaging your property like car, house, and cherished items
  • Passive aggression-Saying one thing to your face while doing something spiteful behind your back, being vague in communication with what they want
  • Patriarchy-Men being more important than women and children, unhealthy excessive masculinity, machismo.
  • Stonewalling-Using silence to control, refusing to communicate, avoids answering your questions

The Effects of Abuse

Most victims feel great shame concerning the abuse, thinking it was their fault. The pain is so great that they seek to numb it by any means necessary:


Drug use

Illicit sex

Eating too much

Cutting themselves

Excessive sleeping




They try and ignore the abuse that happened, stuffing it deep inside. They think that the pain will go away if they don’t deal with it. It will only get worse and manifest in other ways.

Abuse can come from anyone: your parents, spouse, siblings, grandparents, coworkers, and even friends.

Here are some stories of abuse:

My maternal grandmother was an abusive person for as long as I could remember. She was not your tea sipping, cookie baking, pinch your cheeks grandmother. She swore like a sailor. She cried whenever she didn’t get her way. She denied my mother was ever abused by her stepfather. She stole from me. She manipulated everyone around her to do her bidding. Always taking, never giving. She told the family that I was neglecting her, when that was a lie, I waited on her hand and foot. She disowned me by email and then asked my mother why I wasn’t talking to her anymore.

I had coworkers that treated me poorly. It was a very toxic environment. They would make me look bad in order to try and get me fired. They didn’t include me in anything. They decorated the other team members’ desks for their birthdays, but never decorated mine. They told lies to the manager about me so I wouldn’t get a good review. I would do the work day in and day out while they took time off, took 2 hour lunch breaks, and came in late. I was left out of important meetings on purpose. I was micromanaged even though I outranked them in position and in seniority. They would talk behind my back instead of telling me face to face what beef they had with me.

My ex husband verbally and emotionally abused me. He told me I couldn’t get fat or else. He told me what jobs to apply for. He took my birthday money from me “for safekeeping”. He would never show me any real affection unless we were in front of his parents. I would get yelled at for the smallest things: the house was never clean enough, the cooking not good enough, I didn’t earn enough money, spent too much money grocery shopping, the water jug wasn’t filled up, the gas wasn’t full in the car. Walking on eggshells was the way I lived. My singing wasn’t good enough. Rage and mood swings were the norm in public. I made him act this way. If only I would submit more.

The only way to heal from this abuse is to identify it and acknowledge it exists. You must accept the real truth that you don’t deserve the abuse and you didn’t cause the abuse. You have to realize that you are a beautiful person that is worthy of love and respect! You need to hand the abuse back to the abuser. You have to forgive your abuser and give yourself a chance to live free.

Can you relate to any of this? Leave a story in the comments.

You can read about Part 3 regarding Sexual Abuse here.