What amazes outsiders is how blind the victims can be to signs of verbal and emotional abuse. It is truly almost astonishing phenomenon to witness, how someone is clearly being, often brutally, abused, and how oblivious they seem to be regarding it. Even worse, they act and live as if everything was as it’s supposed to be. Which is the very core of the problem of any abuse, as we will show? But in verbal and emotional abuse, the boundaries tend to be even more difficult to recognize.
How the abuse comes to happen
How one gets to be either a victim or the abuser is in the very basis of the apparent blindness we just described in the introduction. Even though the two positions differ greatly, their origin is the same. They were born during the early childhood, when both the victim and the abuser-to-be were observing their parents and how they interact.
Unfortunately, unhappy families tend to produce new unhappy families. And when children witness emotional abuse, they learn that this is a normal form of interaction. At that stage, they don’t know any better. When we grow up, we gradually learn that something in a relationship is just not right. But, in our deepest core, we were imprinted an abusive pattern into our worldview.
So, even though the victim, for example, might have spent most of her life being against abusive relationships and having very decent partners, the risk is always there. And the moment the victim meets the abuser, the sleeping monster awakens for both. This usually becomes apparent from the first moment the two knew each other, and, if unstopped, it will get bigger and stronger with every day of their relationship. Which is why recognizing the signs of emotional and verbal abuse are vital for the prospect of a healthy relationship and life.
How the victim sees things
Emotional and verbal abuse has a way of distorting the victim’s perception of reality to the point of delusions. This doesn’t mean that the victim suffers a mental disorder, although the abuser will try to convince them they do. It’s only the gradual brainwashing-like influence that the perpetrator has on how the victim sees things.
The victim will often, when asked about their relationship, demonstrate a few very typical behaviors. At first, you will almost certainly hear that their new partner is the most perfect person in the entire world. He or she is the immaculately smart and has strong principles they live by. They are passionate and speak frankly about everything. They don’t tolerate being pushed around, and they don’t tolerate others’ mediocracy.
When the time passes, the victim will mostly begin to realize something’s not just right, but by then, they will be completely separated from their friends and family. And because of that, they will be left entirely to the abuser’s influence.
The victim will blame him or herself for the state of the relationship. If only (s)he were better, smarter, more fun, more tactful, had more taste, more passion, more… whatever. He or she will come to believe that what the abuser says about them is right, and completely lose their self-esteem or the ability to be objective.
And, when you speak to a person who is in an emotionally abusive relationship, you will be amazed how oblivious they are to their potentials and abilities, and how convinced they are that their partner is right. All the while, you will probably be looking into one of the saddest people on Earth.
So, if you yourself, or someone close to you might be a victim of emotional and verbal abuse, given how hard it is to be objective and look the truth in the eye, knowing a few sure signs might be useful. Apart from the victim becoming entirely secluded and withdrawn from their family and friends, and having the propensity of self-blaming for the most absurd things, here are some additional signs of emotional abuse (some of which are more typical of female and some of the male abusers, but they are all abuse):
- Being constantly put down
- Being embarrassed and humiliated, but mostly in privacy
- Use of sarcasm, harsh humiliating jokes
- Indirect communication that implies the victim is no good for any reason
- Unreasonable jealousy
- Extreme moodiness, as if the victim is constantly walking on eggshells
- Being emotionally blackmailed
- Being emotionally excluded
- Hearing threats as to what would happen if the victim leaves (the abuser will kill him/herself, or will not let the victim go, revenge or similar)
- Constantly checking of the victim’s whereabouts and activity
- Controlling behavior that ranges from sarcastic remarks to full-range phone-checking and making the living hell out of the victim’s life when they leave the house