Common Signs of Emotional Abuse and Verbal Abuse

Common Signs of Emotional Abuse and Verbal Abuse – June Hunt, Hope for Your Heart

Abuse wears many faces—faces as varied as the people who give it and receive it. Abuse can be subtle or blatant, quiet or loud, smooth or abrasive. But with all its differences, abuse is always either verbal or nonverbal in delivery, and it always deeply impacts your personal and social life.

“His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” (Psalm 55:21)

Verbal Abuse

  • Accusing
  • “Advising” excessively
  • Backbiting
  • Badgering
  • Bashing because of gender, race, or religion
  • Belittling
  • Betraying confidences
  • Blame-shifting
  • Brainwashing
  • Breaking promises
  • Bullying
  • Complaining chronically about unjust treatment
  • Controlling conversations
  • Criticizing unjustly
  • Degrading
  • Demanding false confessions
  • Demanding that unrealistic expectations be met
  • Demeaning family members
  • Denying that abuse ever occurred
  • Denying that the abuse is wrong
  • Destroying credibility
  • Dictating orders
  • Disgracing
  • Gossiping
  • Humiliating publicly
  • Insulting
  • Interrupting constantly
  • Laughing at abusive behavior
  • Lying or truth twisting
  • Making fun of a person’s fear
  • Making negative comparisons to others
  • Making racial slurs
  • Minimizing what is wrong
  • Mocking
  • Name-calling
  • Playing verbal mind games
  • Reality switching
  • Ridiculing
  • Scapegoating
  • Shaming publicly
  • Slandering
  • Speaking profanity
  • Teasing publicly about sensitive areas
  • Teasing that hurts the heart
  • Terrorizing
  • Threatening
  • Threatening suicide in order to control
  • Twisting Scripture
  • Undermining other relationships
  • Using coarse talk
  • Using put-downs
  • Using words as a way to deceive
  • Violating the context of conversations
  • Wounding with sarcasm
  • Yelling/screaming

Non-Verbal Abuse

  • Abandoning the family
  • Abusing mentally
  • Abusing spiritually
  • Acting deceptively
  • Acting overly suspicious
  • Arriving late as a form of control
  • Assaulting a person physically
  • Being chronically irresponsible
  • Being excessively jealous
  • Betraying family, friends, coworkers
  • Brandishing weapons
  • Changing rules or expectations continually
  • Committing adultery
  • Damaging property
  • Driving recklessly
  • Embezzling company money
  • Excluding others from the group
  • Failing to validate feelings
  • Favoring others
  • Forcing an abortion
  • Forcing sex or sexual perversion
  • Giving condescending looks
  • Giving excessive gifts to manipulate
  • Giving sneering looks
  • Giving unsolicited “help” to manipulate
  • Hanging up the phone on someone
  • Hiding things (car/house keys, money, jewelry, important documents)
  • Ignoring
  • Interfering with another’s work
  • Interrupting another’s sleep
  • Intimidating physically
  • Invading another’s personal space
  • Isolating from family
  • Killing another’s pet
  • Making insulting gestures
  • Making unwanted visits
  • Manipulating children
  • Monitoring another’s phone calls
  • Opening another person’s mail
  • Ostracizing
  • Overindulging in order to control
  • Playing cruel tricks
  • Prohibiting another’s decision making
  • Prohibiting the positive friendships of others
  • Prohibiting the private conversations of others
  • Raping
  • Refusing to leave when asked
  • Refusing to listen
  • Refusing to validate another’s feelings
  • Rejecting one’s own child
  • Slamming doors and drawers
  • Stalking
  • Stealing
  • Sulking, pouting, “pity-parties”
  • Threatening gestures
  • Walking away as a power play
  • Withdrawing emotionally
  • Withholding deserved compliments
  • Withholding deserved credit
  • Withholding finances



Article Used by Permission from Hope for the Heart©

Scripture, unless otherwise indicated, taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

June Hunt

June Hunt

June Hunt, M.A. Criswell College, is a biblical counselor whose award-winning radio program "Hope For The Heart" is heard on 900 radio outlets around the world. For more than 25 years, she has counseled people, offering them hope for today's problems. June has helped many people with emotional, relational, and spiritual problems experience God's love through biblical hope and practical help. Click here to find out more about Hope for the Heart.

Hope For The Heart Board of Reference

Dr. Henry Blackaby (Blackaby Ministries International), Dr. Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Dr. Tony Evans (The Urban Alternative), Joni Eareckson Tada (Joni and Friends), Kay Arthur (Precept Ministries International), Dr. David Jeremiah (Turning Point), Dr. Tim Clinton (American Association of Christian Counselors), Dr. Bruce Wilkinson (Bruce Wilkinson Ministries), Dr. Chip Ingram (Living on the Edge), Roger Staubach (SRS Real Estate Partners), Steve Arterburn (New Life Ministries), Vonette Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ), Dr. Charles Stanley (In Touch Ministries), Zig Ziglar (Ziglar Training Systems)

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