Verbal and Emotional Abuse in The Household

Image showing hurtful words being stopped

Marina Thelander, Reporter


“The words with which a child’s heart is poisoned, whether through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later they burn his soul.”

— Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Why do parents verbally and emotionally abuse their children? Verbal abuse and emotional abuse are rampant in our society. An estimated 3.3 million children are witness to verbal and physical abuse in their households every year. Almost 900,000 children are neglected or abused annually.

     Emotional abuse is a way of controlling other people by using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or manipulate another person. Verbal abuse is a type of psychological/mental abuse that involves the use of oral language, gestured language, and written language directed to a victim. Some examples of emotional and verbal abuse would be name-calling, degradation, manipulation, gaslighting, and threats. Examples of emotional abuse are humiliating or constantly criticizing a child, threatening, yelling/ screaming at a child or calling them names, making the child the subject of jokes, and using sarcasm to hurt a child.  

     Emotional and verbal abuse from parents can damage a child. It can cause the child emotional trauma that can result in long-term harm. Verbal abuse can wear away a child’s self-esteem, damage their ability to form relationships and trust, chip away at academic and social skills. Affecting the ability to form meaningful relationships can lead to toxic relationships causing more damage, feeling stuck, and not knowing what to do because you grew up with it as your normal. It can affect healthy emotional development, which can weaken one’s immune system making it easier to get sick. Healthy emotional development improves a child’s self-confidence, empathy, and the ability to make healthier long-lasting relationships. Verbal and emotional abuse can cause childhood trauma leading to difficulty identifying, expressing, and managing emotions, limiting language for feeling states. Childhood trauma increases the risk of alcohol and substance use disorders and PTSD. Children then often internalize or externalize stress reactions which can cause anger, anxiety, and significant depression. It can also create erratic behavior, distancing oneself from other family members, or mental disorders.  

     When being verbally or emotionally abused you need to understand deeply that it is not your fault. No matter what you have done, verbal abuse is never the correct response to any situation. Recognize abusive patterns if there are any. If you have a parent who drinks and you notice the abuse taking place at that moment, you can better prepare yourself for the future or plan to avoid those situations. Trying to stay calm when the abuse is taking place can help not emphasize the situation as well. Stop and take a few breaths, take a step outside and get some fresh air. Separating yourself can help you stay calm and control your emotions. Try and distract yourself, that could be listening to music, drawing, or just going over some positive lyrics in your head. Remember the words they are throwing at you are false and try not to believe them, always remember that it is not okay to be spoken to this way by anybody.