What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term ‘verbal abuse’? Screaming, shouting, abusing, and name-calling, right? Even though this is indeed verbal abuse, sometimes it can also be very subtle and might not even seem like you are being abused. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Abuse is not always that straightforward but can have the same impact on the psych nevertheless.
When you’re on the other side of verbal abuse, the abuser doesn’t always have to scream at you or call you horrible names to make you feel bad about yourself; they can shatter your heart into pieces without saying a single word and simply through their subtle abusive actions.
So, how does it work exactly? How would you know that you’re being subjected to subtle forms of verbal abuse, but verbal abuse nevertheless?
The 7 Types Of Quiet Verbal Abuse That Are Hard To Notice
When someone makes you question your reality and tries to convince you that what you experienced never happened in the first place, that is when you’ll know that you are being gaslighted. Gaslighting is one of the most harmful weapons of abusers and manipulators, and one which they use very generously.
Some of the most common gaslighting phrases are as follows:
- “You are crazy, and you’re making things up!”
- “Come on, that never happened.”
- “You are just too sensitive.”
- “You must have heard it wrong.”
- “You pushed me to react this way.”
- “Why do you always have to be so emotional all the time? You need to chill!”
- “I was just joking!”
- “You can leave if you think I am such a bad person!”
- “You don’t have to be so dramatic all the time.”
- “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
- “You are exaggerating and twisting things.”
- “There’s something wrong with you, that’s why you’re blaming me for it.”
- “No one likes you.”
- “You always need something to complain about!”
- “Don’t be a negative Nancy!”
So you see? There’s no name-calling, no abusive words per se, but it can still make you doubt yourself and even believe that you’re the culprit, not them. By gaslighting you, they completely change the narrative and pin the whole blame on you, and because they know all your weak points, they know what to say that will hurt you the most.
The whole motive of gaslighting is to make you doubt your sanity and sense of reality, and the moment you do that, they win. Gaslighting is one of the most horrible forms of subtle verbal abuse.
2. Absence Of Emotional Support, Validation And Love.
Many people have a tough time expressing their feelings to their loved ones, and that’s okay. But what’s not okay is withholding your appreciation, praise, emotional support, and kind words just because you don’t want to encourage and compliment someone. Many toxic parents do this to their children, in the name of ‘tough love’.
They always criticize, undermine, and humiliate their children because they want them to be strong and more successful, but what they don’t understand is that negative reinforcement alone doesn’t achieve anything. Positive reinforcement, positive validation, and support are non-negotiable. Lack of acknowledgment and love can make anybody feel that they don’t deserve love, or that they have to earn that love.
Invalidating your emotions and beliefs and making you feel like you are never good enough, and will never be good enough is one of the most painful forms of emotional and quiet verbal abuse and one that stays with you for the rest of your life. It’s slight and profound at the same time.