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Why Someone Telling You How You Should Feel is Covert Verbal Abuse

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Covert Verbal Abuse
Heartbreak

Relentlessly difficult people exert power and control by defining your reality for you.

Covert verbal abuse happens when a seemingly benign remark goes under your radar. You don't see it for the emotional abuse it is. You get used to it.

Covert verbal abuse happens when someone tells you how you feel, what you think, or what you need or want. It's sneaky. You might not see it as abuse... yet. You will soon if you keep reading.


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Is there someone in your life who acts as though they own you and they know you better than you know yourself? Yes, even some parents of adult children do that:

  • "You've always been too sensitive."  
  • "You never were able to handle the truth."
  • "You should do/feel/think/want/expect  ____. if you were good/honest/successful, considerate or _____."

If there is a "should" in there, there is likely a problem!

Do you ever think or say: "How dare you tell me how I feel!?" Or, has it become such a pattern in your relationship with your mother, father, partner, or ex that you immediately start considering what they are saying as the truth?

That happens when you are used to being abused. And, yes, it is sneaky, covert, and it's going under your radar.

Right now, stop. Think of the relationship that is driving you crazy. Is that person telling you who you are, and what you think and feel? Do you hear the word "should" from them way too often?


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This is covert verbal abuse.

I know... who wants to think of themselves as being abused? Especially not when they hadn't noticed what was really going on.

Some of us become so used to abuse that we can even justify it when it comes our way. As children, we became so used to being defined by our parents, it's not a stretch to move on to having partners who continued the tradition.

It felt familiar. It was familiar. And, it seemed normal. It may seem normal, but it is NOT acceptable.

Covert verbal abusers want to define your reality so they can control your reality. 


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As this idea begins to sink it, you may resist it. You might think: "S/he really cares about it and doesn't want me to make a mistake." 

Are you an adult? If so, most adults are quite capable of deciding:

  • how to live
  • what they think
  • what they feel
  • what they need
  • what they want
  • who they are

And, if they are so used to being told these things, today is the day to recognize that you are capable of standing up, speaking out, and saying,

"NO! No more! I've got it from here!"

Taking back your life may be a gradual process, but it starts right there. Soon, you'll see how others exert power over you, and you'll no longer let them.

Saying "NO!" to covert verbal abuse first requires recognizing it. Then, keep a lid on your anger.

Yes, I know, you're going to be angry and rightly so. Once you see the game, it's impossible to unsee it, and you'll be angry that you've put up with it for so long. That anger is healthy, but if you let it fly, you'll have a host of other problems. So, don't do it!

Once you recognize that someone is trying to control your life, get help. So often, my clients tell me that they had tried to work things out, or get over things, on their own.

Then, they tell me how relieved they are to finally have the insights, strategies, and support to make positive changes in their relationships and in their lives. You are your best investment. Remember that.


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This video will give you the greatest, most immediate insight into how to handle the next word of covert verbal abuse that comes your way. Watch it as many times as you need in order to bolster yourself to follow this strategy. You can do it.

Dr. Rhoberta Shaler is a The Relationship Help Doctor. If you are experiencing verbal abuse, emotional abuse, or any other thing in your relationship that has you feeling trapped, degraded, and angry, start visit her website, ForRelationshipHelp.

This article was originally published at ForRelationshipHelp.com . Reprinted with permission from the author.

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