The Scars of Verbal Abuse and How to Handle Them

The world often talks about physical abuse. It talks a lot about the bruises and the black eyes. But I think the same kind of loud speaker needs to be given to verbal abuse and gaslighting. The damage that verbal abuse causes is as permanent as physical abuse and can cause intense damage that you carry with you through everything. It's often previous verbal abuse that leads to difficulties in other relationships. This is because it causes us to have coping systems or reactions we don’t even realize that eventually deteriorate our relationships. There are the obvious ones that physical abuse causes, such as the inability to touch sometimes, or be touched spontaneously. But the ones for verbal abuse can be so random that you can’t link until much later. Here are some I have that took me some time to realize.

  1. 1. You constantly think your significant other is mad or upset.

    This is often stemmed from how you were abused. For example, a sigh or huff from your significant other might make you think that they are upset because your abuser usually did this and reacted harshly later on. It makes you self-conscious of any behavior changes and immediately puts you on edge.

  2. 2. You get afraid to voice your discomfort about something.

    This is because you've spent so long being silenced and abused when you disagreed on something that the mere idea of saying something makes you afraid or uncomfortable that they will yell and hurt you.

  3. 3. You think that you abuse your significant other or someone in your life .

    Often those who have been abused are so self-conscious on how they act around others that they become really self-aware of what they say and do. They fear ever hurting or pushing people away. The sad part is sometimes it is this fear in and of itself that brings out verbal abuse and hurts those around them. At the same time, it also makes them aware and fear being cruel. It goes both ways.

  4. 4. You cry, get anxious, irritated or overwhelmed quickly.

    People who have been hurt and finally leave the abusive situation become overwhelmed by people and things they liked. Most survivors want to retreat and be alone. They step away from activities that they enjoy. They get anxious and irritated by others and often get diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

  5. 5. You struggle to accept that someone is not providing you with the love you deserve and make excuses.

    It is really hard for those that have been abused to see the reality. They don’t want to leave situations that are clearly bad. It's not that they don’t know, they do. They just fear they won’t ever find someone who loves them. So, the next person that comes along that loves them, they take, even if they don’t fulfill their needs. Their “chances” just never end. 

But how do we handle this? How do we begin healthy relationships? First, you have to understand it takes a lot of time and effort to do so. It took me two to three years to fully grasp myself — but I did. I highly recommend you see a counselor to help you along and help you figure out how you feel. It is a lot to digest on your own and they can really help you see which way you must step in order to heal. 

However, If you fear expressing how you feel or feel discomfort in saying what's wrong, I highly recommend you write it out or turn and face the wall and then state how you feel to the person it concerns. If it is a significant other, express to them how you have difficulty saying no and ask them to give you time. Discuss how you can tell them you feel uneasy, such as a hand gesture or a note, as well as what they can say to make you feel at ease. 

Also, when it comes to arguments, if you fear someone is angry or upset, clear it immediately by asking if they are. If you can, try to deduce if they have anything to be angry about. If they don’t, try to soothe yourself. But if you still can’t, express your discomfort and allow them to help. 

Sometimes, when you feel anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or irritated, it might be helpful to try to remove yourself from the situation.I recommend retreating for a while to calm yourself and writing in a journal. Do not stay retreated for a long time, but allow yourself time to recalibrate and dig down on what is overwhelming or upsetting you. 

Above all, remember that staying in a relationship when you are unhappy doesn’t help you. Don’t forget you deserve love. This one requires outside help, but only if you allow yourself to get this help. You deserve love and happiness and I promise you will find it. If you still can’t leave, give them three chances. Just three. Directly state what you expect and if they don’t fulfill these items and don’t express a want to fulfill them, it is time to leave no matter how hard you wish to stay. I know it's hard. I have been there. But do not forget you deserve love. 

I am still learning and growing and can’t tell sometimes how I am feeling. However, that is the process of growth. I hope you know you are not alone and give yourself time. You are a warrior and you will make it. You already chopped the dragon’s head and ran across the broken bridge to freedom. Now you just have to learn how to build yourself a fire and by reading this you, already have gathered the wood. You got this. We got this.