Six Signs You're a Victim of Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse doesn't have to be accompanied by aggressive language or a high tone. Someone can use subtle ways to intimidate or trying to make you feel inferior.
Six Signs You're a Victim of Verbal Abuse
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Written by Okairy Zuñiga

Last update: 15 December, 2022

When you hear the word “abuse” you might automatically think of physical aggression. However, a victim of verbal abuse, while having no visible signs of harm, is just as harmed as a victim of physical abuse .

The problem is that, in most of these cases, the victim usually doesn’t realize that it’s happening or the consequences it entails. In fact, it’s common for them to blame themselves, which hides the aggressor.

Due to its lack of visibility, it’s difficult to perceive if one is being a victim. That’s why you should be alert to the following symptoms:

Signs you’re a victim of verbal abuse

A woman crying because she's a victim of verbal abuse.

1. You feel scared even if you don’t get screamed at

We can mistakenly think that verbal abuse is synonymous with screaming, but it is not always the case. In reality, the verbal or psychological abuser tends to manipulate and make the victim doubt themselves.
The victimizer can even use a kind and loving tone of voice. That’s why you must remember that the fact that someone doesn’t have aggressive behavior doesn’t mean they aren’t exercising abuse. Threats may also be present, either explicit or implicit.
Do you feel worried about how the other person can act if you don’t do something? Are you afraid of what you say all the time? Do you take care of every word and action so as not to disturb them?

2. They compare you or blame you for everything

We all like to respect our individuality and accept ourselves as we are. However, verbal abuse often undermines our self-confidence through comparisons and guilt.
Nobody likes to be told that another person is smarter, prettier, or makes things better when using a tone of reproach, mockery, or cruelty. Listening to this every day is a big blow to your self-esteem. In addition, this dynamic also generates feelings of guilt.
You must leave the situation that makes you live it as soon as you see the problem. Remember that no one has the right to make you feel inferior under any circumstances.

3. A victim of verbal abuse feels intimidated all the time

You may notice that you’re being verbally abused if you feel intimidated when you’re close to that person.
This sign can be very subtle, ranging from jokes and derogatory comments to inappropriate language that damages your self-esteem .
It goes without saying that intimidation can reach more worrying levels and you can end up being forced to do something you don’t want or that you consider degrading.

4. You feel that they accuse you or interrogate you all the time

The direct attacks derived from the lack of security and confidence suffered by the violent person are another sign of verbal abuse. In general, this lack of confidence is associated with low self-esteem, which makes you question each of your movements and your actions.
It’s possible that these questions and accusations are gradual so you must be alert to detect when the situation is occurring . A common mistake is to start giving explanations to calm your fears. The problem is that, over time, the situation will worsen.

5. You have negative changes in your mood

As human beings, everything around us has some effect on us. Therefore, being a victim of some kind of verbal abuse can leave us with several sequels that we can identify if we pay attention.
Try to be aware of your mood when you are close to other people. Can you distinguish those that make you feel happy? And those that wear you out?
If you identify there’s a person who only produces a constant feeling of discomfort, be it sadness or discomfort, it’s time to avoid them. Sometimes it is hard to recognize that someone has the ability to affect you, but it is better to accept it and set it apart.
Something very important is to pay attention to is what you’re feeling beyond your expectations. This is because these people are usually very subtle with their abuse.
If it’s your partner or someone you love, you should try to be objective so that you can distinguish what’s causing the damage. Based on that, decide what steps you will take to remedy your situation.

A woman crying on the floor.

6. You are the abuser of another person

Human beings learn from the behaviors we see. In the case of abuse, unfortunately, many of the victims become victimizers.
For example, a child who grew up in an environment where his parents didn’t control their emotions, will become verbally aggressive adults because they did not learn how to control their feelings.
Of course, there are ways to heal and break these circles. The recommended thing, in this case, is to find a specialist.

Stand up against verbal abuse

Recognizing and accepting that you are a victim of verbal abuse is not something simple. Just remember that your well-being depends on the attention you give to the situation you live in.
Before thinking about how people around you will react or any other factor, remember that your main concern should be yourself .

When you’re with someone you don’t feel comfortable around, you have fears or insecurities about how they’ll react and turns to you to criticize you and point out that you do everything wrong, set limits, and reflect on whether the relationship is worth the trouble. And if the situation gets out of your control, don’t hesitate and ask for help.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Evans P. Abuso verbal. La Violencia Negada.  Ediciones B Argentina S.A. (2000)

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.