Identify the Issue: If your spouse, the person you are closest to habitually, verbally abuses you and dismisses your feelings, you will begin to see yourself and your needs as unimportant, of little consequence and irrelevant. However, since the abuser is usually in denial, it is important for the victim to be the one who can identify and pinpoint instances of verbal abuse and do something about it. When you finally recognize and come to terms with the idea that you are being verbally abused you need to also become focused on getting help. Here are some steps you can take if faced with verbal abuse.
Recognize the signs: The key to healing is to recognize verbal abuse for what it is and to begin to take deliberate steps to stop it and bring healing. Whether you are experiencing threats, demeaning language, hostile tone, sarcasm, or any other form of abuse, it disguises what is really occurring in a relationship. Underneath all forms of verbal abuse are issues of power and control. Abusers seek to gain an advantage over their victim and to overpower or control them. This is inherently wrong and can cause significant emotional and psychological distress. If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, seek some kind of help and try to either remedy the situation or even leave if there is a risk of escalation.
Undermining: Undermining is also verbal abuse. The abuser not only withholds emotional support, but also erodes confidence and determination. The abuser often will squelch an idea or suggestion just by a single comment.
Sarcasm: Sarcasm refers to the use of humor to mask belittling or threatening language. Thus the information is delivered in such a way so as to provide two distinct messages. The superficial message is that the intention is humor or levity while the deeper message is one that belittles, demeans or threatens. Because the deliverer uses humor to mask the message, the deliverer will try to deny the deeper message if confronted, thus leaving the receiver somewhat disarmed and unable to defend against the deeper message. Typically the person using sarcasm denies the deeper message so as to absolve him or herself from any wrong-doing and more insidiously try to infer there is something wrong with the receiver for their misinterpretation. This obfuscation of the receiver’s reality in this scenario is also a form of psychological abuse.
Forgetting: Verbal abuse may also involve forgetting. This may involve both overt and covert manipulation. Everyone forgets things from time to time, but the verbal abuser consistently does so. After the partner collects herself, subsequent to being yelled at, she may confront her mate only to find that he has “forgotten” about the incident. Some abusers consistently forget about the promises they have made which are most important to their partners.
Ordering: Ordering is another classic form of verbal abuse. It denies the equality and autonomy of the partner. When an abuser gives orders instead of asking, he treats her like a slave or subordinate.
Denial: Denial is the last category of verbal abuse. Although all forms of verbal abuse have serious consequences, denial can be very insidious because it denies the reality of the partner. In fact, a verbal abuser could read over this list of categories and insist that he is not abusive.