Verbal abuse can not only be just as damaging as mental abuse, it can be worse. Usually the people who are bullied verbally are picked on because they are shy, quiet, timid, mature; or the person picking on them is jealous of them or feels threatened by them in some way. This is why school bullies tend to pick on the school swots who study, learn and do well; but get on with the other children who are the same as them and swear, bunk off school, talk back to the teachers and refuse to do their homework. They somehow feel threatened by the one who is the odd one out and cannot just accept they are different.
Sometimes parents use verbal abuse on their children, perhaps in a misguided attempt to ‘train’ them to be good or do as they wish.
We can be verbally abused by a partner, especially if the relationship is not working – they are scared to lose us, scared of what we are thinking, scared of what we have been doing, so they lose their temper, shout and take it out on us. Of course, this just drives us away even more, and makes things even more unbearable for both people. But they try to bully you into saying what they want, doing what they want and thinking and feeling what they want, which is impossible.
Verbal abuse is damaging because no matter what they say about “sticks and stones” words can hurt and hurt a lot. If you are overweight and a nasty and spiteful person says you are fat, huge, a lump or any other nasty term to describe your size, it will hurt – there is no way that it cannot. That is why they choose such words in the first place. They hone in to your weakness.
People who wear glasses may be called ‘four eyes’ people or who are short may be called a ‘dwarf’. The list of possibilities is endless. The bullies sole intention is to undermine you and make you feel small and ashamed. They want to abuse you and have you feel awful for as long as possible. So they look for something they can pick on to use against you. If you remember they are doing it because they feel threatened by you in some way then you will realise that you are the big person here, and they are the non entity. There must be something great about you if you can make them feel so inferior that they have to bully you to feel better.
The best way to deal with it is not to answer back or get into any sort of argument, just smile and walk off as if you did not hear it or do not care. It will upset them even more if they think their nasty words did not affect you and no matter how much those words did hurt you do not let on. That way they get bored with it, thinking it is not working, and stop.