Many people experience verbal abuse in their lifetimes. Most often, abuse occurs in romantic relationships, between a parent and a child, or at work. One study has shown that in romantic relationships, 12.1% of women and 17.3% of men experience verbal abuse.1
Verbal abuse against children is highly understudied and underreported, so the prevalence rates of this type of abuse aren’t well known.2 The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 1 billion children between the ages of 2 and 17 experienced some type of abuse, verbal included.3
A report by the RAND Corporation, an American research organization, found that as many as 13.1% of men and 12.4% of women experienced verbal abuse regularly at work.4 Read on to find out more about verbal abuse, its effects, and how to spot the signs.
What Is Abuse?
“Abuse” is the term used to describe acts or behaviors that are damaging in nature. They are done to purposely cause physical or emotional harm to a person. When a person suffers from abuse, they are mistreated by someone who is looking to benefit in some way from the abusive behavior. There are many forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional.
Are All Forms of Abuse Equal?
While many people who have suffered abuse may believe that one form is less damaging than the other, all forms of abuse are wrong and can lead to detrimental consequences for the person being abused.
Verbal Abuse vs. Emotional Abuse
The terms “verbal abuse” and “emotional abuse” are often used interchangeably to describe the same type of abuse. However, even if the two are similar, there are distinct characteristics of each one.
Speaking aggressively or violently
Using mind games to control a victim’s behaviors, thoughts, or feelings
Verbal abuse is a form of mental abuse that is designed to undermine a person and how they feel about themselves. Abusers also use this type of abuse to help maintain a level of control or power over the person being abused.
Verbal abuse occurs in many relationships, both personal and professional.