5 Signs You're Being Verbally Abused — And Don't Even Realize It

Is there something seriously wrong in your relationship?

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Verbal abuse sneaks into countless relationships. It's something millions of women and men endure on a daily basis. One in four teenage girls in a relationship report that they've been repeatedly verbally abused. One-third of all adults have been called names, and 20 percent have been humiliated in public by their partners. 

Verbal abuse is as damaging as physical abuse. Because verbal abuse sufferers don't carry the outside scars and bruises, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish if your loved is suffering. Or, perhaps you're the victim and because the damage isn't physical, you may wonder if what you're experiencing is indeed abuse.


A tiger does not change its stripes. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers this helpful checklist called "Am I Being Abused?" This may also guide those who are concerned about their own relationship, and includes an empowering Relationship Bill of Rights we all should keep handy.

RELATED: How To Stop Verbal Abuse With One Simple Trick

As a survivor myself, here are some signs of verbal abuse:

1. You find yourself always having to think before you speak.

Do you think before you speak? Not in the "I'm thinking before I'm speaking" kind of thinking, but then I have to think because if I say the wrong thing I'll get in trouble or be screamed at. Are you being called names like victim, sensitive, cry baby, or any other derogatory pet name? 


2. You can't remember the last time you had a good time.

Your friends are always talking about the good times with their mates. All the times that seem to happen in your house are bad times — yelling, fighting, arguing, name-calling. In fact, you don't even like to go out anymore because you know exactly how the night will end: badly.

RELATED: 5 Lesser-Known Signs Of Verbal Abuse (That You Should Never Miss)

3. Your words are constantly twisted.

Do you find that when you're upset at your partner or call your partner out on the abuse, he/she flips the story? And by the time they've finished, you've become the bad guy? The abuser is so manipulative with their words that you can start a conversation with one intention and your words will be twisted until you end up in tears.

4. The voice in the back of your head tells you something is wrong.

Does that little voice inside your head tell you to run in the other direction? Does that voice tell you that you're being treated unkindly? Does that voice tell you that something is wrong, even if you can't quite put your finger on it? 


That little voice is right. It's your guardian angel, your inner voice. Listen to her.

5. You're subjected to passive-aggressive manipulation.

This abuser thinks he's clever and can always fall back on the "I'm just joking!" line. You hear things like, "Why are you getting so upset?" and often find yourself confused for someone with "your past," even though he's "sorry you feel that way."

I want to give you a mantra to say until you understand that verbal abuse is wrong: "It's not me, it's YOU!" Say this over and over again until it sinks into your brain. Never sacrifice your self-esteem or self-worth for someone who doesn't respect you and treats you kindly.

RELATED: 7 Signs You're Being Quietly Abused (And Don't Even Know It)


If you're being verbally or physically abused, seek help right away. Contact THE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233 and seek legal resources and help at WomensLaw.org.

Marina Sbrochi is the author of Author Nasty Divorce: A Kid's Eye View and the IPPY Award-winning author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the love of your life. She is finishing her Master's in Professional Counseling and lives with her family in Dallas.