Awareness | Posted by Ashleigh J on 06/12/2010

Emotional/Verbal Abuse IS Abuse

emotional/verbal abuse

emotional/verbal abuse

“You are worthless. You are nothing, but a worthless slut.”

Have you heard this before?

Is a vile name your term of endearment? Does your partner tell you how pitiful you are? Instead of complimenting your many beauties, he casually makes you aware of all your supposed physical ‘flaws’ (the ones he knows will cut you way down deep) and then plays it off like he was just kidding. Has this ever happened to you?

It alarms me that many people think that unless you have a black eye or a broken nose, you are not being abused, or that verbal and emotional warfare is somehow excusable.

I have heard opinions like: a woman is simply making a big deal of nothing or ‘playing’ the abuse card; that it’s ridiculous to classify ‘name calling’ as ‘real’ abuse.

That is, first off, unfair and second, absolute crap. Words, ugly words your partner should never say to you, that some hear in place of praises every day, DO hurt.

This isn’t only about ‘name calling’ though. A lot of times the stress and abuse is in the delivery. When he’s barking at you about how slow you are at getting ready, yet barging in literally every 3 minutes or so to remind you that you are, as he has stated once, twice, three times already, “fucking slow.”

Some of you may think this doesn’t sound bad enough to call abuse. How about if he is screaming at you? In front of your family, friends or even your child. And no one even deserves this. There was no reason for him to start yelling. He just has a short, blind temper.

Now it takes every bit of your strength not to start crying, because then, he will feed off of your tears. He will start going on about what a “pussy” you are for crying. For crying because he is standing there like a drill sergeant bellowing in your ear to “hurry the fuck up,” when all you want is to get ready in peace and have a fun day with your family. These are mornings for you.

Should you happen to try and talk back, stand up for yourself, he acts out as a bully. Grabbing your face and smearing your freshly applied make up all to ruins or breaking a belonging of yours. Now what? All this time you’ve been rushing to get ready (partially just so his lecture will end) and now he has either added more time to your routine because you have to fix what he just smeared all over your
face OR you have to wipe off what you can and go out the way you are. How is this fair? How is this humane? How on earth did he ever get it in his head that he was allowed to treat you this way?

We aren’t finished yet. This confrontation has left a bad taste in your mouth, has left you in a quiet daze. You stay silent. You have nothing to say and he starts to notice…

(In a sickening, mocking tone)
“Oh, did I ruin your day because I got mad. Poor baby. You are fucking stupid. I fucking hate you.”

You say you’re fine, make up some excuse for being quiet and change the subject to try and curb his anger. You have learned by now that trying to defend yourself, your feelings, your rights…that is futile.
It will only fuel his fiery tongue. And he will make it go on and on, for what seems like an eternity. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is sunny, lively, cheerful and completely oblivious to the emotional hell you call a relationship every day.


There are plenty more examples of this kind of abuse, many worse. And plenty of reasons why a woman can feel stuck, like she has no way out, ESPECIALLY when there are children and/or a history of violence involved.

What if he takes your kid and they potentially have to deal with this overflow of misdirected anger every day? Until, it has slowly eaten away at their innocent character leaving an emotional brokenness where a pure, unadulterated love for existence once dwelled. What if he hurts you? What if he leaves you disfigured? (You have seen stories about this on TV before, about how it has happened to other women.) What if he KILLS you? Then who will raise and protect your child from unnecessary evils?

Not every woman has found the strength that seems to come so easily to some, to “Just leave his sorry ass.” Perhaps it takes a specific breed of compassion to sympathize for women in this position, maybe it takes personal experience. Either way, they shouldn’t be dismissed as, “whiners, with no REAL abuse issues.”

One of my favorite sayings on this topic: Verbal abuse may not leave a bruise, but it DOES leave a scar.

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  • Giorgia @ at 1:25 pm, June 12th, 2010

    I couldn’t agree more! I’m glad you’ve addressed it, however sometimes emotional/verbal abuse is more subtle than the examples you’ve given, and therefore is more difficult to pick up on

  • Kendra @ at 2:31 pm, June 12th, 2010

    I love you girl.
    But I think you made another mistake…if you know what I mean.
    But I think you did an excellent job writing this, and I rate this 5 stars. All I can say, is I still love you.

  • bullshiht @ at 6:54 pm, June 12th, 2010

    I agree. You failed to cover emotional blackmail, psychological mind games, etc.

  • Katherine C. @ at 7:56 pm, June 12th, 2010

    *sighs* Yep.

  • Tessa @ at 12:25 am, June 13th, 2010

    I completely agree that verbal abuse isn’t taken as seriously as physical abuse. Very powerful post.

  • Emily @ at 6:30 am, June 13th, 2010

    I know that emotional/verbal abuse happens and is horrible, but it’s been resting in the back of my mind. Thanks for bringing it to the front where it probably should be)!

  • Erica Lee @ at 10:27 am, June 13th, 2010

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this! Verbal abuse is such a serious issue. Verbal abuse can lead to just as many emotional problems (low self esteem, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc.) as physical abuse. I really do think–in the age of internet bullying, sexting, etc. etc.–that it needs to be taken more seriously.

  • allie @ at 2:44 pm, June 14th, 2010

    what about in your family? i know for a fact my grandma told me nobody ever EVER would want to be with a fat girl, nobody good that is. that i could never get anybody because of the way i looked. if i ate a peice of bread at the table she would yell at me in front of everybody about how i shouldnt eat that cuz im so fat, would that be considered abuse?

  • Taylor S @ at 12:30 am, June 15th, 2010

    Allie I’ve had to deal with that a lot too. I think though some people may misconstrue that as good intentions, I still saw it as abuse. I don’t know, and I never will, but I can assure you whole-heartedly that you are beautiful, and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    This post made me remember an abusive relationship I was in. It was awful. He’d call me a fat liberal bitch that deserved to be ridiculed. He’d say he hated everything about me, and said he was only with me because he couldn’t find anyone better, He cheated, and joined in with his family to abuse me verbally. I put up with it for months before finally deciding that I could do better than this. I’m still getting over all the emotional scars and baggage he left behind. People called me weak and said I shouldn’t have let it get to me, but it still hurts. Verbal abuse is definitely as important as physical abuse. It is a serious issue that needs more attention,

    Sorry for the long rambling post. It just really set off a nerve in me.
    Wonderful writing, by the way.

  • allie @ at 10:21 am, June 15th, 2010

    it sets a nerve in me too, i can tell you, being a big girl makes people even family and the people who are SUPPOSE to love you treat you like dirt. strangers family everyone seems to have the right to tell you your not worthy that your lazy and ugly because of the way you look, and i think alot of curvy or big girls accept it eat more and give up on exercise because people are stupid. nobody, stranger or family or love interest has the right to treat you like crap

  • Link Lust: Week of June 6-June 13 | @ at 3:44 pm, June 15th, 2010

    […] Verbal Abuse Is Abuse from the fbomb. Such important reading. ♥ Choose to Spend Time On High Impact Activities […]

  • Ashleigh @ at 11:44 pm, June 16th, 2010

    I agree that I did fail to cover more issues involved in emotional abuse and apologize for that. This was my first venture in writing about this subject (btw this is ALL verbatim and present tense). At least though, SOMETHING was said. Yes? Spread the word. STOP emotional abuse.

  • Sweeney @ at 3:19 pm, June 17th, 2010

    I only just saw this today, but wanted to let you know that I really appreciate the message that you’re helping to spread.

    I am currently being taken to court by my ex, who is suing me for full custody of our child. He showed no interest in even keeping our son overnight until he found out that I was dating someone new. For him, controlling me was always his goal, and he is using this lawsuit in the hopes that he will still be able to maintain that control over me.

    He never hit me, but the abuse was always there. And I can’t put into words the sense of helplessness and fear that I feel, because I worry I will not be taken seriously in court.

    Also, I disagree with people who are criticizing your efforts by saying you didn’t write comprehensively enough on abuse… this is concern trolling. But ANY discourse is better than none, and no one can exhaustively and effectively cover the myriad ways that abuse is manifested in one brief blog post. You did a fantastic job, and in no way failed. Again, thank you.

  • Giorgia @ at 6:03 am, June 19th, 2010

    I wouldn’t call it concern trolling. It was the first thing that struck me. And I must say it stuck me like a brick. Considering I was emotionally abused by comments far lesser, and far more manipulative comments than the ones covered, I only wish I had information on it. The comments in the article are the ones commented on virtually every article.

    This is not to take away the focus of the article, which did an amazing job of bringing this issues to light; I concur with you about the writer doing a fantastic job.

  • The Wholestyle Network » Blog Archive » Emotional Abuse is Still Abuse @ at 11:12 am, June 30th, 2010

    […] reminds us over at The F-Bomb that physical violence is not the only kind of abuse out there.  There are scores of people out […]

  • Ariel @ at 2:16 pm, July 17th, 2010

    I would love to see a list of the signs of verbal/emotional abuse as well, so we can help those who remain silent about their plight. Obviously, this is not something many women are very open about.

  • Noelle @ at 11:13 pm, August 9th, 2010

    Amen. I was in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship and didn’t realize how much it was hurting me deep down. You don’t have to lay a finger on someone to hurt them. I’m doing a lot better now that I’ve realized my pain was valid.

  • Lolita @ at 4:38 pm, August 30th, 2010

    Sounds like my dad, though he wasn’t always that upfront about it. They’re in a divorce and my mother still denies it as abuse. Even though we’re obviously reeling from it in every day relationships. Say’s it’s us, our hangups he was difficult but never abusive, not intentionally cruel (as if intent makes it better or worse).

  • Ryan @ at 10:16 pm, April 20th, 2011

    Throughout the past week, my Women’s Studies class has started an ongoing discussion of the realization of the various types of abuses. Many people are very familiar with the term abuse; however, do not really understand that besides being of physical nature it can be a verbal and emotional well. My best friend of 17 years is one of the most honest, loyal, and humble people I have ever come across in my lifetime. Regardless of how I feel about him one thing is for sure, he verbally abuses every girlfriend he has ever had. Often do I recall reaming him out for saying things beyond terrible to his lady friends. Once a month I would expect a call from his girlfriend at the time, crying hysterically because of the hurtful words he had said to her.

    In class we had just reviewed an abuse myth, which states: “if women are abused, they should be able to pick up and leave.” The myth still is proven wrong, regardless of how bad he has treated them in the past, they still won’t leave him.

  • Cody @ at 3:55 pm, December 1st, 2011

    What about other women using the word “bitch” to empower themselves over other women? Alternatively, I have heard of women calling other women bitches and saying that it is a term of endearment. Is there any contextual situation where it is okay to take a word that is meant to harm and using it instead as an empowering word? I personally hate the word bitch, along with all other words like slut, whore etc. I have noticed that a lot of women are calling each other these names lately. The other day on campus I overheard a girl leaving her friend a voice mail saying “I miss you, Bitch!”. I personally never would go up to my best friend and say “Hey, Bitch I love you!”. It to me is disrespectful and completely counter-intuitive to my idea of what is empowering. To me women calling women bitches, whores and slut is also a form of abuse which is similar to partner verbal abuse because it is coming from someone you love and trust.

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