By Josephine Oguntoyinbo
Abuse comes in many forms, not all of which are physical. When someone repeatedly uses words to demean, frighten, or control someone, it’s considered verbal abuse.
You are likely to hear about verbal abuse in the context of a romantic relationship or a parent-child relationship. But it can also occur in other family relationships, socially, or on the job.
Verbal abuse ,also known as reviling or verbal bullying according to Wikipedia is also described as a negative defining statement told to a victim or about a victim or by withholding any response, thereby defining the target as non-existent.
According to experts, anger underlines, motivates and perpetuates verbally abusive behaviours.
The words you choose are either building up or tearing down your relationship. What sort of feelings or experience do people around you have when you speak?
Very often, if you grow up with ,or have been used to abusing people in a certain way or being abusive when you are trying to make a point or when you are annoyed, you forget how dangerous this is in a relationship or how much this character can destroy a relationship.
Words can either administer death or life into a relationship. Therefore every words you speak into it is either a deposit in that relationship or a withdrawal in such relationship.
It is wrong to believe that verbal abuse is a means of maintaining control and power over your partner, trying to dominate your partner is not the best. Having pleasure and feeling more powerful while you puts down your spouse’s interest can lead to divorce.
To this end, we need to be careful about the words we are using. Verbal abuse kills, it is almost as dangerous as physical abuse, because it kills love, intimacy, trust, and kill people’s self confidence.
Sometimes, people find themselves in that wrath because that is the kind of environment they grow up in, but you need to realise that it is not right for you to assassinate someone else’s character in the process of making a point.
A verbal abuser will always define your reality, decide what you can or cannot do and treat you as an ugly part of themselves, a part that they have to undermine and frustrate.
No matter how angry you are, you need to take responsibility for the words you speak. And if you take time to think about the impact words you are speaking is having on the people around us or the person you are speaking it to, you will realise that it changes characters and make them lose self confidence.
Verbal abuse make victims feel alone and unimportant, it is intimidating and threatening. It’s effects can be devastating as it leads to depression, anxiety and destroy self esteem. Verbal and emotional abuse takes a toll. It can sometimes escalate into physical abuse, too.
Partners who are being abused often feel trapped, which lead to changing in his or her behaviours, like how he or she speaks, dresses, socialises, and even works in an effort to dodge the hurtful language and behaviours from the other partner . As a result, they gradually loose their identities.
The hope that abusive partners will change is what keeps many hanging on, when this continues, it can lead to a break up.
An expert said, if the abuser does not immediately apologise and retract the defining statement, the relationship may be a verbally abusive one.
An Akure based Guardian and counsellor, Mrs Anike Adeoba explained that people indulge in verbal abuse (which often has a physical component) to gain status as being superior to the person targeted and to bond with others against the victim noting that generally, the bully knows no other way to connect emotionally with others.
“In romantic relationships, the verbal abuser may be responding to the partner’s separateness, that is, independent thoughts, views, desires, feelings, and expressions which the abuser views as a threat, irritance or attack.
“That is, to believe negative things about themselves and unwillingness to accept his or her partner as equal. The verbal abuser is compelled to negate the perceptions of the partner which causes more psychological pain to the victim.
“The abuser keeps the target of his abuse off-balance with his or her hot and cold unpredictable behaviour. This confusion adds to the pain caused by psychological abuse and keeps the victim off-balance.
“Anyone can experience verbal abuse, not only in a relationship.After exposure to verbal abuse, victims may develop clinical depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Verbal abuse creates emotional pain and mental anguish in its target.
“Verbal abuse can be as detrimental to a person’s health as physical abuse”, she stated.
Mrs Adeoba listed verbal abuse to include, abusive anger, accusing and blaming, damnation, judging and criticizing , name calling, threatening, discrimination among others.
She affirmed that as many as two-thirds experience verbal abuse in a relationship hence the need for vigorous sensitisations.
She stressed the need for people to make efforts to build their relationships with their spouses, children and people around them.
“Speak words that build up, not words that tears down. Make sure you are building that relationship even when you are upset, speak words that are not offensive. Make sure you are not destroying your relationship” she counselled.