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Verbal abuse is a type of emotional abuse that can occur in any type of relationship (family, work, social, friend). Words are consistently used to ridicule, manipulate, degrade, intimidate, and maintain control over another person.

Both men and women can be the victim of verbal abuse OR they can be the perpetrator. It can be challenging to recognize abuse without physical wounds, but keep in mind that verbal abuse can be a precursor to physical violence.

If you think you may be the victim of abuse, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont of Custer Counties) call us at 719-275-2429. Or you can call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


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Here are some signs of Verbal Abuse:

  • Name-calling - Whether or not a person's voice is raised, name-calling is inappropriate. It is used to ridicule and belittle you into submission.

  • Blaming - This allows a person to make the victim feel responsible for the abuse. It shifts fault away from the abuser's unacceptable behavior.

  • Devaluing - Used to make the abuser feel superior by making the victim feel small.

  • Jokes made at your expense - A joke is only funny when everyone is laughing. Being the target of jokes as a way to belittle you is verbal abuse.

  • Yelling or screaming - This is intimidation to cause a victim to submit. It is an effort to control and have power over someone.

  • Criticism - Constructive criticism is one thing. Persistent criticism is designed to erode your self-esteem.

  • Gaslighting - An effort to get a victim to question their own thoughts and description of events. This can be blatant ("that isn't what happened" or "I never said that") or covert (hard to pinpoint). Gaslighting causes confusion for the victim.

  • Words meant to cause shame - Being told that you are stupid, a bad person, or a loser, is meant to humiliate you.

  • Humiliate in public - Harsh criticism or being made fun of in public can feel very demeaning.

  • Threats - Threats are meant to cause fear that will lead to control over the victim.

If you are a victim of verbal abuse, it is essential that you take care of yourself. Setting boundaries or limiting your engagement in the relationship may help. If needed, you may need to end things.

If you are in Fremont or Custer Counties, call Family Crisis Services if you need help or someone to talk with (719-275-2429).

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