11 Common Patterns of Verbal Abuse

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Verbal abuse doesn’t happen out of anywhere in a relationship. It’s a lot more calculating and insidious, causing people on the receiving end to question themselves, wonder if they are overreacting, or even blame themselves. Verbal abuse usually happens in private where no one else can intervene and eventually becomes a regular form of communication within a relationship. For people experiencing it, verbal abuse is often isolating since it chips away at your self-esteem making it more difficult to reach out to a friend.

Many people who experience it rationalize the abuse in their mind and don’t even realize it’s an unhealthy form of communication. But that doesn’t make it any less distressing or mentally exhausting for people on the receiving end. Ultimately, verbal abuse is a means of maintaining power and control over another in the relationship. And there are many subtle forms verbal abuse can take, making it even harder to recognize. For example, verbal abuse includes being subjected to name-calling on a regular basis, constantly feeling demeaned or belittled, and being subjected to the silent treatment by a partner.

If you can’t tell whether your partner is being “funny” or “belittling,”  here are a few tell-tale signs you are being diminished in your relationship.

Here are the 11 most common verbal abuse patterns to look out for in a relationship:

1. Name-calling

This type of verbal abuse is probably the easiest one to recognize. This includes being called names and/or being shouted at on a regular basis. Arguments that always resort to yelling and the use of aggressive phrases in a conversation are all signs that your communication with your partner is anything but healthy. In a healthy relationship, partners step away from an argument or try to talk through the issue. In a verbally abusive relationship, the abuser will yell until they get what they want.

Example: “You idiot, now you have made me angry!”

2. Condescension

light sarcasm and a sarcastic tone of voice should not be a constant part of your interactions with a partner.This can also include being the constant butt of your partner’s jokes. It can start off funny, which is why it often goes undetected, but over time condescension becomes belittling.

Example: “No wonder you are always moaning about your weight, look how clean your plate is!”

3. Manipulation

Sometimes it can be easy to spot a controlling personality, especially when someone continuously pushes their partner to do and say things they are not always comfortable with. Manipulation, on the other hand, can be more difficult to detect. It can be subtle, like turning situations around and putting the blame on the abused partner.

Example: “If you really loved me you wouldn’t say or do that.”

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