EXAMPLES OF VERBAL ABUSE: A Comprehensive 2023 List

Upset couple sitting on bed separately

Abuse can take many forms, and not all of them are physical. Verbal abuse occurs when someone continuously uses words to humiliate, scare, or control another person. It is not your fault if you are being verbally abused. Continue reading to understand more about examples of verbal abuse.
In the context of a romantic relationship or a parent-child interaction, you’re more likely to hear about verbal abuse. However, it can also happen in other familial connections, social situations, or at work. Abuse, both verbal and emotional, takes a toll. It can also turn into physical abuse at times.

Examples of Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse can take many forms, from outright hostility to purposeful forgetfulness. The silent treatment is a form of verbal abuse as well! The goal of all forms of verbal abuse is to keep the victim in a state of bewilderment, delusion, or dread.

Recognizing examples of verbal abuse in your relationship is the first step toward recovering your mental health and overcoming its effects. Here’s a quick rundown of the many types of verbal abuse and how to respond when you hear it.

1. Intentional Abuse Disguised as a Joke

Are you made to feel helpless or embarrassed by ‘jokes’ made at your expense? You feel obligated to join in the laughter with the rest of the group because they aren’t aware of the abuse. These jokes are frequently inspired by domestic violence. Your abusive partner tries to bring up the abuse in front of others and make light of it. When you’re unhappy, the abuser can accuse you of being overly sensitive (and other people believe it, too).

2. Excessive Angry

This occurs when your partner fails to communicate effectively. Your companion, on the other hand, throws a terrifying tantrum. He screams, punches, and breaks everything. He makes you freeze, escape, or fight back by getting in your face or doing anything that makes you freeze, flee, or fight back.

3. Blaming and Accusing

This is an example of verbal abuse in which you are blamed for the current circumstance as though you did something wrong. The abuser accuses you of cheating (a major charge) or attempting to provoke him. When there’s no way for you to change what happened, the abuser blames you.

4. Disruption and Blocking

It’s a type of verbal abuse in which the abuser prevents you from getting your point across, usually by diverting the conversation to something else. Blocking might also imply that the abuser won’t talk about what you want to talk about. Not at all.

5. Countering

When the abuser refuses to acknowledge what you say, this occurs. It’s not the same as disagreeing since countering is so unreasonable that we can’t call it that. Countering can make communication so difficult that you stop speaking up, which is exactly what the abuser wants.

6. Denial

It is a type of verbal abuse that is precisely what it sounds like: the abuser denies everything, often to the point of insanity, such as responding.

7. Withholding or Deprivation

It is a kind of verbal abuse that occurs without the use of words. The abuser physically and metaphorically pushes away from the victim. He is not allowed to speak to, touch, or acknowledge the victim in any way.

8. Discounting

This occurs when the abuser takes away your ability to think, speak, or act so that you do not have to face the consequences of your actions. If the abuser can make you feel unimportant, you may be willing to let them do whatever they want.

9. Forgetting

Another technique to subtly convince you that you are unimportant or less than the abuser is to forget things that are important to you.

10. Exercising Judgment and Criticism

It is a form of verbal abuse in which the perpetrator publicly humiliates you without attempting to conceal it. Whether you’re alone or with others, the abuser will judge and condemn you.

11. Name-calling

It’s precisely what it sounds like, and it’s frequently the sole instance of verbal abuse that people recognize as abusive. But, contrary to popular belief, there is more to name-calling than meets the eye.

12. Demanding and Ordering

When your abuser tells you what to do and expects you to do it right away, this happens. There’s no need to put it off any longer.

13. Dangerous Words and Behavior

It is a form of verbal abuse that crosses the line into physical violence and involves explicit threats to your safety (or your children, parents, pets, etc.)

Examples of Verbal Abuse in Relationships

Many instances of verbal abuse are difficult to identify, especially in the early stages of a relationship. The abuser’s tone of voice, choice of words, body language, the abuser maintaining “it’s for your own good,” and other verbal decoys conceal the majority of verbally abusive utterances. Even so, once you have the ear for it, examples of verbal abuse are easy to spot.

1. You misunderstood what I was saying!

Because words and tone may readily be manipulated to mean anything different from what is spoken, verbal abuse underpins all other forms of abuse. “You misunderstood me!” is a convenient technique to avoid accepting responsibility for purposely injuring another person. It’s all too easy to misinterpret a person’s intentions early in a relationship. We say to ourselves, “My bad,” and go on.

2. Denial and Word Play

Denial of wrongdoing and wordplay are two sides of the same coin. It doesn’t matter how the coin toss lands because the victim of verbal abuse will be confused on both sides.

When the words employed might mean two different things, I believe it to be wordplay. “You’re such a beautiful wife!” with a smile and an embrace, for example, means that you are a wonderful wife. Rolling eyes while saying the same thing, on the other hand, means something quite different. “I’ll put up with you because we’re married,” it means.

You May Recognize These Examples of Verbal Abuse

Here are some examples of verbal abuse, as well as statements made by verbally abusive men and women. Do any of these look familiar?

Statements that are emotionally abusive:

  • You’re so sweet when you’re trying to focus! Take a look at how hard you’re attempting to think.
  • I can’t believe I’m in love with a moron.
  • Come on, you can’t take a joke?

Statements that are sexually abusive:

  • By now, you should know how to make me happy.
  • I hoped you didn’t have much experience.
  • Quit acting as if you’re a whore.

Statements that are financially abusive:

  • You’re going to nickel and dime me into submission!
  • In what universe does it make sense to buy that?
  • All right. You’re in charge of your finances. Please notify me if things go to crap.

Statements that are harmful to society:

  • You have no right to publicize our private affairs!
  • Let me do the talking; guys command respect.
  • You made a promise to God and everyone else, and I expect you to keep it!

Statements that are threatening and intimidating

  • I’m going to rub your nose in that dog’s mess if you don’t teach it.
  • If you abandon me, I will take our children.
  • You’re afraid? This isn’t a rage-inducing situation! When I’m angry, you’ll KNOW!

Statements that are spiritually abusive

  • Keep your ridiculous ideas to yourself.
  • God will find a way to bring you back, and it won’t be pleasant.
  • Just listening to your crap makes me feel like I’m being dragged into hell!

Examples of Verbal Abuse in Marriage

Here are a few examples of marital verbal abuse:

1. Name-calling

Name-calling is detrimental in any connection, whether it’s a romantic partnership, a parent-child bond, or a playground bully. Habitual name-calling is a manner of denigrating you that might be blatant or camouflaged as “pet names” or “teasing.”

Consider the following scenario:

  • “You don’t get it, honey,” says the narrator, “because you’re simply too stupid.”
  • “It’s no surprise that everyone thinks you’re a jerk.”

2. Condescension

Condescension is another way of putting you down. Comments from the abuser might be snarky, dismissive, and patronizing. It’s all to help people feel better about themselves.

Consider the following scenario:

  • “Let me see if I can simplify this so that even you can grasp it.”
  • “I’m sure you worked hard on your cosmetics, but wash it off before anyone sees you.”

3. Criticism

Constructive criticism has no negative connotations. It’s especially harsh and persistent in a verbally abusive relationship in an attempt to erode your self-esteem.

Consider the following scenario:

  • “You’re always unhappy about something and acting like a victim.” That’s why no one cares for you.”
  • “You’ve done it again. “Are you incapable of doing anything right?”

4. Degradation

Abusers want you to feel horrible about yourself, so they make you feel bad about yourself. They use humiliation and shame to degrade you and erode your self-esteem.

Consider the following scenario:

  • “You were nothing before I came along. You’ll be nothing if you don’t have me.”
  • “I mean, take a good look at yourself.” “Who else would be interested in you?”

5. Manipulation

Manipulation is when someone tries to persuade you to do something without issuing direct instruction. Make no mistake about it: it’s designed to keep you off-balance and manipulate you.

Consider the following scenario:

  • “Doing so demonstrates that you are unconcerned with your family, and everyone will know it.”
  • “If you truly loved me, you’d do this for me.”

6. Blame

Occasionally, we’re all to blame for something. A verbally abusive individual, on the other hand, holds you responsible for their own actions. They want you to feel that you are the source of your own verbal abuse.

Consider the following scenario:

  • “I despise getting into arguments, but you irritate me tremendously!”
  • “I’m going to have to yell at you because you’re so irrational and thickheaded!”

7. Accusations

Someone who accuses you of things constantly may be jealous or envious. Or maybe they’re the ones who are causing the problem. In either case, it can make you wonder if you’re doing something wrong.

Consider the following scenario:

  • “I noticed how you regarded them.” You can’t tell me there isn’t anything going on.”
  • “If you have nothing to conceal, why won’t you give me your phone?”

8. Isolation or withholding

It’s supposed to make you work harder to earn their attention by refusing to talk to you, look you in the eyes, or even be in the same room with you.

Consider the following scenario:

  • You say or do something you don’t like at a friend’s place. They storm out and sit in the car without saying anything, leaving you to explain and say goodbye to your hosts.
  • They are aware that you need to communicate about who will be picking up the kids, but they will not return your calls or texts.

9. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a method of persuading you to doubt your own version of events. It has the potential to cause you to apologize for things that aren’t your fault. It may also cause you to become more reliant on the abuser.

Consider the following scenario:

  • You remember an occurrence, an agreement, or an argument, but the abuser denies it ever happened. They can tell you it’s all in your head, that you dreamed it, or that it’s all made up.
  • They convince others that you’re forgetful or have emotional issues in order to maintain the illusion.

10. Circular arguments

It’s not uncommon for two people to disagree or dispute about the same issue several times before finding common ground. Abusers, on the other hand, will bring up an old disagreement again and again just to irritate you, never intending to meet in the middle.

Consider the following scenario:

  • Your job demands you to work unscheduled overtime. Every time it happens, the debate over your tardiness resurfaces.
  • Despite the fact that you’ve stated that you’re not ready for children, your partner brings it up every month.

11. Threats

Verbal abuse may escalate if threats are made directly. They’re designed to scare you into submission.

Consider the following scenario:

  • “You might find a ‘for sale’ sign on the lawn when you get home tonight, and I might just be gone with the kids.”
  • “No one could blame me for how I’d react if you did that.”

Examples of Verbal Abuse from Parents

If you do any of the following, you may be verbally abusing your child:

  • Calling them names, degrading them, swearing at them, and insulting them. (“You’re a jerk,” “You’re a jerk,” “You’re a horrible kid,” etc).
  • Indirect criticism, such as making fun of your child in front of your spouse, is also hurtful. Just because you aren’t outright reprimanding your child doesn’t mean he isn’t aware of it.
  • Abandoning or threatening to forsake someone. (“I wish you hadn’t been born.” “I think you should be adopted.”) This type of verbal abuse gives the impression that your youngster is unwelcome in the home.
  • Posing a danger to one’s health. Studies have revealed a correlation between verbal and physical aggression: “parents who yell regularly are the ones who hit frequently, and vice versa,” according to a Harvard study. Even if you do nothing in response to violent threats, your child may dread and distrust you.
  • Blaming or scapegoating. (“You’re to blame for this family’s shambles.”) “I could have a better life if I didn’t have to look after you.” “Your sister wouldn’t have been wounded if you weren’t so clumsy”). Your child will believe he is a nasty person who has earned his misery.
  • Using sarcasm as a form of communication. When he spills juice on the carpeting, making a disparaging remark like “Now that was smart” may seem like a good approach to avoid direct criticism, but your youngster is intelligent enough to realize you’re belittling him.
  • Berate your partner. Children who witness their parents verbally assaulting one other are more likely to be unhappy or worried and to have more interpersonal issues themselves, according to a study conducted at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Surprisingly, the study discovered that children were more traumatized by verbal aggressiveness between parents than by physical violence between parents.


The most subtle types of manipulation, threats of violence, and everything in between are all examples of verbal abuse. The more you know what to look for, the better you’ll be able to recognize verbal abuse and remove yourself from the situation when it occurs. Abusive relationships are never worth the agony they inflict, so heed your instincts if something doesn’t feel right.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes someone verbally abusive?

What is the definition of verbal abuse? When someone continuously uses unpleasant or insulting remarks to achieve or maintain power and control over someone else, this is known as verbal abuse. Even if there is no physical contact, verbal abuse can still create emotional or psychological injury and lead to violence.

What are examples of abusive language?

Abusive language is defined as aggressive, violent, profane, or insulting language that degrades an individual’s dignity, including profanity and racial, ethnic, or sexist slurs.

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