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Sometimes it is very clear when someone speaking to you is verbally abusive; They feel weakened, belittled, and / or manipulated. But sometimes it can be more difficult to tell whether the words addressed to you are some kind of criticism or unwanted feedback, or actual verbal abuse.
In an article for Well + Good, Sarah Regan interviewed mental health experts who looked at the different types of verbal abuse – including some of the less obvious signs. Here’s what you should know.
What is Verbal Abuse?
In short, verbal abuse is about power and about making someone submissive, Psychotherapist Annette Nuñez, Ph.D., LMFT said Regan. And while yelling or yelling at someone can certainly be, it can also be much more subtle, like “discreet manipulation, gas lighting, or just making someone feel less than they are,” she explains.
In some situations it is not entirely clear whether a conversation or comment is some kind of feedback or criticism or whether it is subject to verbal abuse. In such cases, Nuñez recommends looking out for repetitive patterns – especially if you’ve already told the person that you don’t like being approached that way.
However, she also notes that not every awkward discussion or exchange is verbal abuse; it can also be constructive criticism or some kind of disagreement. Again, Nuñez emphasizes That it matters if the person repeatedly cuts you off and tries to make you feel like you are inferior (and not just giving feedback or expressing an opinion that you disagree with).
Less obvious signs of verbal abuse
Verbal abuse can take many forms – some of which are quite sneaky. Here are some examples of the less obvious signs of verbal abuse, so the ones Experts Regan interviewed for their article:
No explosive arguments here. “There are even more insidious forms of verbal abuse that are quietly phrased as though to help you with a problem you never knew you had,” Perpetua Neo clinical psychologist, DClinPsy said good + good.
According to Neo, any type of threat should be viewed as verbal abuse – including threats to your safety and that of the other person.
If you hear phrases like, “That didn’t happen” or “You are dramatic” (relating to situations that actually occurred), you may be gaslighting. Another form of verbal abuse, gaslighting, involves constantly questioning someone’s reality with the aim of getting them to do it themselves.
“That way, they keep you in control and keep you submissive and dejected by making you think that you are crazy and that you are the terrible thing in the relationship.” Nuñez said to Regan.
Unsolicited “advice” from a wise savior
Sometimes people position themselves as the “wise savior” offering invaluable advice to those who they believe do not understand the world as well as they do. This can be phrased in many ways, but a classic one is “advice, me noticed it was you “. [character deficit example], and I want to help you, ”explains Neo. Nope.