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Verbal Abuse Checklist:
Things Everyone Needs to Know

Dr. Reena Sommer

Please read through our free articles on domestic abuse, family violence & sexual abuse.

Verbal Abuse Checklist - Unfortunately, verbal abuse is an all too common part of many relationships. It comes in many different forms and is often difficult to identify. This is primarily because the verbal abuse is not presented as "blatantly abusive" or it is often paired with caring behavior. Regardless of how it presents itself, verbal abuse is wrong and can be just as harmful as physical abuse because of what it does to a person's self esteem. Unlike phsyical abuse, verbal abuse has no visible scars. That's because the scars from verbal abuse can only be found internally - in a person's spirit, soul and sense of self worth.

It is important to know that verbal abuse can occur on its own or along with physical abuse. It is also important to know that verbal abuse often preceeds physical abuse. Just like physical abuse, verbal abuse rarely goes away on its own. In fact, just like other forms of domestic abuse, verbal abuse usually gets worse over time. That means that some form of intervention is usually necessary. Therefore, it is vitally important to be aware of the signs of verbal abuse in order to recognize it.Here is a verbal abuse checklist which will alert you to the most common signs of verbal abuse:

  • name calling - any type of name calling (other than terms of endearment) are completely unacceptable, even if they occur in private
  • put downs - comments made for the sole purpose of demeaning you; comments that are not constructive and/or helpful even when accompanied with the explanation - "I was just trying to help"
  • the use of sarcasm for the purposes of making you feel badly and/or humiliated
  • loud yelling and/or swearing - either in public or in private
  • threats - even when made in jest; no threat is funny or appropriate when it causes you to be guarded or change your beahvior
  • manipulations - putting you in a position where you feel you must do something or act a certain way when you would otherwise not do so - this is not how a loving partner should be treated

These are some of the most common forms of verbal abuse that occur in relationships. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of the ways verbal abuse can present itself. Nevertheless, this verbal abuse checklist should alert you to to what you should be on the look out for.

Do not let verbal abuse of any form just go by. If you do, it will continue and surely escalate. Remember, being in a loving relationship should not make you feel badly. Loving relationships are about mutual sharing and caring - not hurting and demeaning.

Often times, people who are verbally abusive or physically abusive to their partners were themselves exposed to this type of treament earlier in their lives. For them, the use of verbal or physical abuse is considered normal and although they may hate having being treated that way, they were not exposed to any alternate forms of relating to a "loved" one. In stating this, I am not providing an excuse for abuse, but merely an explanation.

If you are experiencing abuse or violence in your relationship, do not let it continue.

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Reena Sommer, Ph.D.
M.Sc. Family Studies
Ph.D. Psychology & Family Studies
Phone: 281.534.3923 Fax: 281.534.3924