7 Consequences of Verbal Abuse

July 17, 2018 Emily J. Sullivan

The consequences of verbal abuse can be severe and long-lasting. Learn about 7 dangerous consequences of verbal abuse on HealthyPlace.

Consequences of verbal abuse can creep up on anyone suffering abuse, causing severe and lasting effects. Verbal abuse in relationships begins slowly and then typically gets progressively worse, the abuse serving as a catalyst for dangerous psychological consequences for the victim. A verbally abusive relationship can cause a person to become plagued with depression, mood swings, lowered self-esteem, misplaced guilt, isolation, loneliness, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although these negative side effects may outlast the relationship itself, they are not generally permanent and can be treated and overcome completely. Continue reading to find out more about these seven consequences of verbal abuse.  

7 Consequences of Verbal Abuse

  1. Depression -- Depression is an understandable consequence of verbal abuse, especially prolonged abuse. Common symptoms associated with depression include sadness, hopelessness, feelings of emptiness, trouble sleeping or even oversleeping. You may find yourself unhappy doing things you once loved or feeling like things will never get better. Verbal abuse can cause depression for the victim after weeks, months, or even years of feeling worn down by the abuser.  
  2. Mood swings -- Mood swings are a pretty standard psychological side effect for people involved in toxic relationships. Abusive relationships work in cycles that entail honeymoon periods in which everyone feels happy and in love and then a build-up of tension that leads to an abusive episode, and then a period of remorse that leads back to the honeymoon phase. Naturally, all of those ups and downs can have a person feeling mood swings. Mood swings can be chaotic and confusing, causing a person to feel like he or she can't trust his or her own judgment or feelings. 
  3. Lowered self-esteem -- Victims of verbal abuse have likely been called terrible names, belittled, degraded, blamed for things they feel they had no control over, screamed at, and bullied in ways that would take a major blow to anyone's self-esteem and ability to value one's self. Perpetual hyper-criticism can work like an icepick, picking away until there's nothing but pieces everywhere. The stress of the criticism can cause a person to feel like he or she cannot perform simple tasks effectively and lead to feelings of worthlessness. 
  4. Misplaced guilt -- Most people who have suffered verbal abuse have heard again and again that everything that goes wrong -- and I mean everything, including the price of the tea in China -- is all their fault. Being told repeatedly that you are at fault and to blame for anything negative that happens in your partner's life as well as the abuse you are suffering is at first, seemingly ludicrous but eventually, it is accepted as an obvious truth like the sky is blue and grass is green. This misplaced guilt will likely originate within the confines of the relationship but then seep out into other areas of the victim's life -- other relationships, work, his or her own misfortunes or random misfortunes of the people in his or her life, etc.  
  5. Isolation -- Verbal abuse in relationships often leads to friend and family estrangement, alienating the victim from loved ones. First, you may choose to spend all of your time with your new partner because you're happy and in love, then you may start to pull away from social gatherings because your partner doesn't like certain friends or family members, then you find yourself defensive of or embarrassed by the relationship you've found yourself in, so you isolate yourself.  Isolating yourself is a progressive pattern that begins with an ignored call or missed family event here or there, but then one day, you realize you haven't seen your mom in months and your best friend has found a new best friend. 
  6. Loneliness -- Loneliness is different from isolation because a person can feel lonely even in the company of others. To feel lonely can be to feel alone, misunderstood, uncared for, without friends or love, without companionship, etc. It is entirely possible to feel lonely while sitting right next to your partner, or falling asleep next to someone at night because loneliness is a mental symptom rather than a physical state of being. Loneliness is a common consequence of verbal abuse because the victim feels rejected and cast-aside from his or her partner as well as isolated from friends and family. 
  7. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- Posttraumatic stress disorder is a dangerous and understandable consequence of verbal abuse. Being beaten down by verbal abuse is extremely traumatic. The trauma of abuse carries over into new relationships, romantic, platonic, professional, and familial because the trauma comes from the subsequent communication issues, self-doubt, and fear of rejection. You may find yourself extremely sensitive to a tense conversation or really hard on yourself for a minor faux-pas at work. Disorders like PTSD can pop up unexpectedly, making you feel mentally unstable over things you think you should have a handle on.  

These seven consequences of verbal abuse in relationships are devastating to a person's quality of life. It can be difficult to move on and find happiness when you're still carrying around these negative side effects of toxic love. The good news is, none of these consequences of verbal abuse have to be permanent. With an investment in your own mental wellbeing, either through therapy, self-help reading, reaching out to close friends and family, or other options for recovery, you can overcome these painful symptoms of a relationship gone wrong. 


APA Reference
Sullivan, E. (2018, July 17). 7 Consequences of Verbal Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 5 from

Author: Emily J. Sullivan

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July, 22 2018 at 1:08 am

I can relate to all of these, as I’ve gone through these periods and am still there. 18 years of verbal abuse is not simple to undo and even the order in which you’ve placed them here is exactly how they’ve all been for me. Now that I’m away it’s still hard because none of my family and friends have believed me, but then many of them are people I was alienated from either by him or after giving up on the fight. You simply cannot win against them.
Thank you again for such an article that is identical to my experiences.

Lizanne Corbit
July, 18 2018 at 11:41 pm

I think this is such an important read and I so appreciate how you point to the fact that it can have these kinds of results for anyone, "normal" life and all. Verbal abuse is not something to take lightly or underestimate and these are very, very real consequences of it. Thank you for sharing!

Clara J Chauteco
July, 17 2018 at 10:22 am

This is an incredibly informative article that accurately describes that painfully devastating effects of verbal abuse. Shared to my blog!

Emily Sullivan
July, 17 2018 at 11:52 am

Clara, thanks so much for reading and commenting! -Emily

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