The Telltale Signs of Verbal Abuse

U.S. News and World Report Online – Maybe it’s a nearly imperceptible eye roll or a look of disgust intended for only you to see. Perhaps he needles you about falling short in the kitchen or the bedroom or your attempts at humor. And let’s say he raises his voice at you often enough that you can never be sure how he’ll react, so you try to get everything right to keep him happy.

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19 replies
  1. Cory says:

    I’m a 26 year old male still living with his parents in the Rome NY area. While my mom is not so bad, my father verbally abuses me nearly everyday. I hide in my room nearly all day, not wanting to leave it cause the longer I am here, the less I have to deal with him. I have social anxiety’s and sometimes have a really hard time talking to people. As well as I am always afraid I well mess up somehow while talking to people and it feels like I’m always walking a fine line. I have a part time job at a grocery store but I am having a really hard time finding a real full time job, I have applied for every one ive seen. I also have ADHD which really doesn’t help in the matter. O am also pan-sexual, which means Ill love anybody so long as they have a wonderful personality, but this adds to the grief. My dad knows this and thinks I’m an idiot for it. He calls me retard, asshole, idiot, moron, fuckhead, wierdo and has said multiple times that im fucked up in the head. Though hes never really hit me, I only know that of one time he ever hit me and that wasn’t even all that hard. I had hi his wallet during a golfing round, putting it in the glove compartment when he went to look for it, which got me a thump in the head with a golf club. Not hard enough to do any damage but did leave a small lump. He gets angry and screams and yells for everything, if you make one mistake than he’s all over you telling you how useless you are. He takes every bit of rage and hate out on me and my mother. Hes on rare occasions gotten so mad that he has tossed my mom around like a rag doll, hes a strong man who used to be a mechanic. He has a lot of teeth and sinus problems which give him a lot of pain but he doesn’t get help and instead takes his anger out on his closest relatives, us. i cant stand this hatred i feel anymore, im depressed and feel like the worlds going to crush me, and I don’t know where to turn

    • HotlineAdmin_VG says:

      Hi Cory,

      Thank you so much for reaching out. This sounds like such a scary and complicated situation. You and your mom do not deserve to be abused. We know many abusers take out their anger and frustration on their loved ones then make excuses for their behavior. It must be so tough living with the fear that he causes in your house. Unfortunately, when you’re living with so much abuse and trauma, it is easy to start feeling anxious and depressed. You’re not the only one. It’s also natural to be angry any time someone violates your boundaries and is abusive. It is important to take care of yourself and consider reaching out for help.

      I encourage you to give the National Domestic Violence Hotline a call at 1-800-799-7233 to talk about strategies to stay safe and take care of yourself. We are here 24/7.

      Hotline Advocate VG

  2. Kevin says:

    I recently just turned 18 years old and I live with my mother, father, and sister. For a long time I have been a target for my father’s anger.Whenever i brought home bad grades from school he would beat me and yell at me for hours until it became late. I have severe social anxiety and its hard for me to talk to anyone because I feel like they’re going to treat me the way he does. I’m even afraid to ask my teachers for help when I have trouble understanding in class. I never had anyone at home to help me understand my school work better so i always tried my hardest to understand it by myself. I recently graduated high school and now I’m in college and it has become increasingly hard to focus because my dad yells at me for hours about anything from me avoiding him, spending too much time out or at home, not having a job and much more on a daily basis. I’m on the verge of dropping out because I can’t do anything right in school. I want to move out from my house but I just lost my job. He has become increasingly angry with me and won’t leave me alone. I can’t even sleep anymore because I don’t feel safe in my house anymore. I don’t know what to do.

    • HotlineAdmin_VG says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Wow, that sounds like such a scary situation. I’m so sorry that you had to go through so much abuse for such a long time. No one ever has the right to be abusive towards you. You have every right to be treated with respect and kindness. Abuse is about power and control. Many abusers target people they feel are ‘safe’ and easy to control. This is why they tend to target their children and significant others versus a stranger who is likely to fight back.

      Many of the people that we talk to feel anxious and are traumatized by the abuse. You’re not alone in feeling that way. Self-care and finding support is vital, so I would encourage you to make both an emotional and physical safety plan. We’re here to offer you support and to help you safety plan at 1-800-799-7233. We’re completely anonymous and confidential. You may also think about calling Childhelp, the National Child Abuse Hotline, at 1-800-422-4453. They also talk to adult survivors of child abuse.

      Take care,
      Hotline Advocate VG

    • HotlineAdmin_SG says:

      Hi Aly,

      There may be domestic violence support groups in your area or conferences held by your state coalition. Feel free to give us a call at 1800-799-7233, an advocate is available 24/7 and is happy to help you locate either of these in your community.


  3. Kendria says:

    I have this ex boyfriend situation where we have a child together he is 4months old, my ex boyfriend always verbal abuse me by threats by saying he go take away my baby and he has called me a bitch so many times and he has also blocked his apartment door so me and my baby couldn’t get out his apartment we don’t live together and now he has supena me to court to get joint custody of my baby but all he do is start
    arguments with me he has a anger problem and he also drinks alot he has also sent me a text saying that he brought some stuff for my baby but he said he wasn’t going to bring the stuff to me he said that he was going to come to my college and sit the stuff on my car Im afraid he might hurt me and my baby what should i do?

    • HotlineAdmin_VG says:

      Hi Kendria,
      That sounds so scary. I’m so glad that you’re reaching out for help. It’s never ok for anyone to be abusive towards you. Many abusers use children to try to manipulate and control you. It’s not fair to you or your baby. Going to court can be stressful and overwhelming. It helps to talk to someone about your rights and what your options are so that you can make the decisions you feel are safest and best for your situation.

      Your safety and your baby’s safety are the important things. I encourage you to give us a call at 1-800-799-7233 to help you find resources and safety plan. We are here 24/7 and are completely confidential.

      Take care,
      Hotline Advocate VG

  4. hizuki says:

    I’m a fourteen year old female and I think my mom verbally abuses me. She always gets really angry at me for dumb things almost every other week, whether it be the fact that I forgot to feed the cat or did something that she doesn’t quite approve of. I do pretty well in school, but she always gets mad at me if my grades are below an A. I have become a a depressed cutter with low-self esteem and a compulsive liar just so I could avoid her indignation. Recently, I came clean and explained everything I lied about to her, and she only got more angry. She didnt pay attention to the fact that my grade had been improving in the past two months, or that I had been telling the truth. She yelled at me because I had lied three months ago. I almost feel like being honest is worse because she yells at me because I lied to her. Once, I came to her about when I got cyberbullied and she yelled at me for letting it happen. The only reson whybI lie is to keep her happy. She’s also really smart, so she always manipulates me contantly, refusing to talk to me, guilt-tripping me or praising the cat as if to say that I’m worse than an animal. I sometimes hear her calling me stupid behind my back. She even mangaes to use my own words against me and makes herself the victim. She makes me answer questions that only make me seem worse, and when I don’t answer, she lets out this dejected sigh. I say, “Fine, what do you want me to say?” and she tells me that she wants me to say that im a liar. She always says that she will never take pity on me, that she refuses to pity me when I start to cry. She is a hard woman who refuses to change and can’t control her emotions. I have tried coming to a comprimise with her, but to no avail. She continues to bring up past mistakes that I have already admitted or apologias for like a broken record. I love her, but every time I open up my heart to her, it gets pulverized again. I feel like I’m never going to be good enough. I’m being torn apart by someone I love. I’m so afraid to report her to anyone because of what may happen and feel so awful that sometimes I want to die. Why live if you can never please those you love?

    • HotlineAdmin_CC says:


      That sounds like a really tough situation to be in. You definitely do not deserve to be treated like that by your mom. There are some organizations that are better equipped to help you, since we mainly deal with intimate partner violence.

      You may want to contact the following:
      Child Help – 1-800-422-4453
      Covenant House 1-800-999-9999
      Boys & Girls Town – 1-800-448-3000
      Teen Challenge – (417) 862-6969
      These may provide you some direction.

  5. Blair says:

    My father is 62, but he acts like a fucking kindergarten student. I’m already bullied at school, but he bullies me at home. He won’t give me a break! All he does is argue about everything. He’s called me a fat bitch, idiot, and a liar, and he’s called my mom a fat bitch and a dumbass. I’m sick of it, but he says if I call anyone about it he’ll “shove the fucking phone up my ass.” I have an ASD, so of course the old bastard takes it out on me. I’ve already tried to kill myself because of that dinosaur; I’m fucking sick of it. If this verbal assault keeps happening, I’m going to kill myself!

    • HotlineAdmin_RG says:

      Hi Blair,

      You are in a really difficult and upsetting situation! I’m sorry that you are going through that. It is understandable that you are feeling a lot of pain right now. You deserve to be treated with respect and to feel safe in your home. You are not alone. Please give us a call 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.

      If you feel that you may attempt suicide you can always call us, 911, or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Their website is http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

      Some additional resources that can provide you with support regarding your father’s abusive behavior are The National Child Abuse Hotline, Your Life Your Voice and The National Runaway Safeline.

      Thank you for reaching out to us.
      Take care,
      Hotline Advocate RG

  6. Kay says:

    I don’t know whether or not my parents are abusing me, and even though I’ve looked into it, I still don’t know the answer and I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve talked to my close friends and they as well as their parents all agree that what he is doing is unlawful and wrong, but not bad enough to get him arrested or anything – as in, bad enough to be called “child abuse” but still considered acceptable in the law’s eyes. I still don’t know what to do.
    I think he and his girlfriend have anger issues (my mother and her boyfriend had anger issues, and they got violent sometimes, that’s why I left to live with my dad). He cusses at me under his breath and always sees the negative side of things, and tells me how stupid I am or how ridiculous something I enjoy doing is. He also yells at me and his girlfriend isn’t any better. My mother and her boyfriend used to scream in my face and threaten to beat me in the backyard or to slap me so hard I get put in the hospital. My father doesn’t threaten – he just does, although he has gotten better since the last time he hit me in the face (which I have been told is completely legal).
    I’m very uncomfortable living in both houses, my mothers and my fathers, because my mother:
    -threatens to hurt me
    -calls me a stupid piece of shit constantly
    -is kind and sweet one moment and the next is at my throat
    -makes me feel like complete and utter trash for not agreeing with every word that comes out of her mouth
    -chooses her boyfriend’s word over mine or anyone else’s
    -says that I don’t understand anything that’s going on (which I most likely don’t; but it still hurts)
    her boyfriend:
    -actually hit her and held her up by the neck after she had kids with him, which is why I don’t trust him at all
    -actually hit me and two of my brothers before
    -screams and cusses at me
    -drove me to the point of attempting suicide on Christmas Eve
    – ^ my mother got extremely mad at me for wanting to die rather than endure his hate and how he made me feel
    -doesn’t let me spend time with my baby brothers (he says he doesn’t want “his kids” doing stuff with me)
    my dad:
    -gets mad at me for liking/disliking something
    -disqualifies everything I say
    -gets mad/frustrated/disappointed in me for not being social enough
    -tells me I can trust him, and laughs at me when I do
    his girlfriend:
    -laughed in my face when I told her she and my parents were part of the reason I want to self-harm
    -laughed in my face when I told her my feelings and laughed when I cried at our discussion because of what she was saying
    -said that as a child, I have no privacy and I have no right to make my own decisions
    What’s worse out of all of this is that afterwards, regardless of whether or not they hit me or call me names or laugh at me, I feel horrible and guilty, and sometimes they’ll feel the same, but not too often.
    I’ve told my friends what has happened before and they’re scared for my safety and my wellbeing because they claim they see a pattern and fear that things are going to get worse.
    But I don’t know what to do because at this point I’m concerned that everything that caused them to do what they do is my fault, and they always tell me that I should shut my mouth and go with it. But the more I go with it, the more unhappy I become because I feel like I’m being used and trampled and it makes me want to self-harm again.
    I told my dad I’m unhappy living with him and that I want to move out the moment I turn 18, and he threatened to take me to the hospital…?
    But at the end of it all sometimes they feel as bad as I do and I feel like its my fault that I put them through that and make them feel so horrible.
    I do know that my current situation has been making me extremely violent, to the point of wanting to hurt myself, and even daydream about hurting others. I don’t want to hurt anyone and I’m scared for my/others safety, but I don’t want to make a scene or tell anyone what my parents have been doing because I’m scared that they’ll get mad at me. I’m terrified they’ll lock me up in the hospital like they threatened to do last time for telling them how I felt.
    Anyway, I don’t know anymore. I don’t know if they’re actually abusing me, or if they’re punishing me and I’m just not strong enough to take it. My friends say one thing, my parents say another, and I don’t know who to believe. Please help me understand what’s going on.
    Also, I am sixteen years old, and I have been told I can’t do anything about how I live my life or where I live, which makes me feel completely hopeless/useless and I’ve been depressed for the past two weeks. I don’t want to endure this anymore.

    • Kay says:

      I’ve also been told that I should call the police, but I’m afraid they’ll take one look at me and go “She’s just a whiny teenager, just leave her here.” or tell me that I don’t know what I’m doing.
      I’ve also told my mom to leave him so many times, and when she went back on her word and didn’t was another reason why I left, but now the main reason is that she is becoming like her boyfriend. My brothers are getting mad at me for avoiding the house and keep on saying that I hate her, and part of me does, but I keep on feeling worse and worse and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to call the police or get anyon e too involved because I’m scared of what might happen, or that I’ll be shrugged off and then punished by my parents.

    • HotlineAdmin_MT says:


      Thank you for reaching out. It sounds like a very difficult and upsetting situation, and you shouldn’t have to go through this alone. What you’re describing definitely does sound very abusive, and you have the right to take the steps you need to feel safe and happy. But I understand that this is also a very complicated situation, and you may have a lot of mixed emotions. I would encourage you to reach out to Child Help: the National Child Abuse Hotline and speak with them about what’s going on. They may be able to help you determine the best options based on what you’d like to see happen.

      Note: Many organization, including The Hotline, are mandatory reporters of child abuse. If you don’t want a report made to Child Protective Services, I would encourage you ask Child Help, and any organization you talk to, whether they are mandatory reporters of abuse, and if so, how you can utilize their services without a report being made. Avoiding giving identifying information, like full names, addresses, or school names could be a good start. But again, you can certainly ask about that upfront if/when you contact Child Help so that you feel completely safe and confidential.

  7. Ultimate Frisbee Forever says:


    I’m fourteen years old and I think my dad (stepdad?– It’s complicated) is verbally abusing me. Please help me determine whether it’s really abuse and what I should do from here. Also note that I am very biased because I hate him.

    So he came into my life when I was six, and has been telling me that I’m (a) stupid, stupid, stupid (b) gross, (c) basically a terrible daughter because I apparently have a bad attitude and I talk back too much. It was only about a year ago that I found out that verbal abuse is a thing. My teacher said it is more hurtful than emotional abuse, and I am worried that me and/or my brother will grow up to be like him. Sometimes I find myself yelling at my brother that way, and I feel bad.

    Speaking of my brother, I suspect there is some favoritism in my family. I heard my dad telling him that he didn’t want him to grow up like me, and when I woke up late one morning and my brother woke up on time, he said that he is better than me and that made me really angry– not necessarily at my brother, but at my dad.

    We never get along. Actually, I stay mad at him after he yells at me for a few days, but then after he is friendly again, I tolerate him. But no matter how many times he says that he will stop yelling at me if I am obedient, he just keeps yelling at me and criticizing me and getting super angry. And it’s over little things, like not tying the strings on the trash bag or not putting my plate in the sink. I am a very forgetful person and I just can’t be perfect. I can’t.

    There is little chance that my mother will leave him and an even smaller chance that he will change his ways. I don’t know what to do, and I’m scared that I’ll go to hell for disrespecting him.

    This situation makes me sad and so angry that I hate him. Maybe I don’t understand all the other people who are so depressed that they don’t know how to live anymore, but I just want to say, suicide is usually done on impulse. Please don’t do it. The world would miss the great person you’re going to be. Find something to love. Whether it’s praying or learning and studying or playing Ultimate or reading or writing or drawing or acting or even reciting songs in your head, find an escape. Find something to live for.

    Anyway, I don’t know what to do. Should I stay angry at him so I won’t get hurt or should I just act happy and obsequious no matter what or should I run away to California or should I defend myself whenever he says something bad about me. Please reply as soon as you can. Thanks.

    • Ultimate Frisbee Forever says:

      And he asked why I wasn’t talking to him anymore and I said he was being verbally abusive to me, and now he always brings it up and says I insulted him.

    • Ultimate Frisbee Forever says:

      But this word, this “verbal abuse,” it has made me feel like maybe it’s not all my fault and as a result, I have completely lost my moral compass. Now, whenever he tells me to do something and I don’t want to do it, I just don’t do it. I’m scared of the person I’m becoming, and I need help, please help me. Tell me the right thing to do and exactly how to do it and keep doing it until I get out of this stupid household.

      My parents say I deserve it, and they might be right. I just don’t know. My mom says it is just part of his culture and that’s his way of loving me, but in those rare moments when I meet his eyes, all I see is hatred. All I feel is hatred.

      I am an introvert. Actually, I talk a little bit more now that I’m at my new school, especially when I’m playing Ultimate, but I’m afraid I still have a self-esteem problem. Whenever we’re not wearing uniform, I can’t help but compare myself to others and I feel bad because I only have one friend and I just can’t relax around people like those people can. Everyone says I’m really smart, though. Whenever I’m around other people, I find it difficult to talk loud. Can this low self-esteem be related to the verbal abuse in any way or is it just the person I am?

    • HotlineAdmin_RG says:

      Hi Ultimate Frisbee Forever,

      Thank you for reaching out to us. It is brave of you to share what is going on in your life with our online community. I’m sorry to hear that your stepdad is being abusive. He has no right to call you names or put you down, those are both forms of emotional abuse. I’m glad that you were able to reach out to your teacher for support. You absolutely deserve to have support around this and you are not alone. Your teacher is right, emotional abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse.

      It can be hard to know what to do in an abusive situation and there is no one right answer that works for everyone. We encourage you to reach out to one of our advocates who can help you discuss different options specific to your situation. Please call us 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat online at http://www.thehotline.org from 7am-2am (CST) every day.

      There are also other great hotlines and resources that can offer you support:

      I encourage you to reach out to the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453

      There is also Your Life Your Voice, they have a live chat as well as a hotline at 1-800-448-3000

      Take care,
      Hotline Advocate RG

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