Image default
Healthline Mental Health

What is verbal abuse?

Verbal abuse occurs when someone repeatedly uses negative or demeaning words to gain or maintain power and control over someone else.

Verbal abuse in itself may not involve physical contact, but it can still cause emotional or psychological harm and progress toward violence.

Keep reading to learn more about verbal abuse, including the different types, how to recognize it, the relationships and environments it can affect, and how to face it.

What is verbal abuse?

Verbal abuse is a form of emotional abuse in which a person uses words or threats to gain or maintain power and control over someone. Being on the receiving end of verbal abuse can cause a person to question their own intelligence, value, or self-worth.

Verbal abuse normally occurs when two people are alone, or when others cannot see or stop the abuse. Verbal abuse can occur in any kind of relationship, and it is generally a calculating, insidious process that intensifies over time. Sometimes, there may be no warning signs.

Once it begins, it tends to become a common form of communication in the relationship. Verbal abuse may also accompany or progress toward other kinds of emotional or psychical abuse.

Types of verbal abuse

Verbal abuse exists in several forms. However, it can be harder to spot than other types of abuse because it leaves no visible signs of damage and can be very subtle.

In many cases, perpetrators of verbal abuse will raise or recondition the other person. This may lead to the person on the receiving end believing that these behaviors are normal, which may also make it difficult to recognize.

Some common types of verbal abuse include:

Discounting and gaslighting

“Discounting” means denying someone else’s rights to their own thoughts, emotions, or experiences. This usually involves repetitively discounting and dismissing someone’s feelings.

This could mean telling someone that they:

  • are too sensitive
  • are childish
  • don’t have a good sense of humor
  • are being dramatic

Discounting can therefore cause someone to question their own version of reality and be unsure of whether what they feel is right or wrong.

It may also involve gaslighting, wherein the perpetrator denies events or describes them in a way so different to reality that the person on the receiving end starts to think that they are losing their memory or their mind.


This involves repetitive negative and judgmental evaluations that challenge someone’s sense of self-worth.

Typically, judging behavior involves the perpetrator using “you” statements such as:

  • “You’re never happy.”
  • “It’s never enough for you.”
  • “You’re always upset for no reason.”
  • “You’re so negative.”
  • “People don’t like you.”

The use of the word “you” in this context can isolate a person and be very emotionally damaging.

………………….. ……………………… Continue Reading ………………….. ………………………

Related posts

Let go of outdated mental health perceptions and invest in workplace well-being


Is blue waffle a real medical condition?


Everything you need to know about tantric sex


Leave a Comment