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Cancerous Characteristics

Verbal abuse, also known as emotional abuse, is a range of words or behaviors used to manipulate, intimidate, and maintain power and control over someone. These includes violence that isn’t directed specifically at people but is used to intimidate, like slamming doors, throwing things, destroying belongings, or harming pets.

These cancerous characteristics are just as serious as other forms of abuse and may damage self-worth and well-being. Every relationship is different, and signs of emotional and verbal abuse may not be obvious from the start of a relationship. Verbally abusive people often seem to be ideal partners, and behaviors may emerge slowly or begin suddenly.

Emotional and verbal abuse can come from partners, caregivers, coworkers, parents, and others. If it’s happening to you, it’s important to remember it’s not your fault.

Isolation and Control

  • Preventing you from visiting friends and family

  • Trying to stop you from going to work or school

  • Controlling who you spend time with

  • Monitoring your messages

  • Tracking your phone or car

  • Demanding passwords to your phone, email, or social media

  • Controlling your finances

  • Taking or hiding your keys and wallet

  • Controlling what you eat and wear

  • Stopping you from seeing a doctor

Humiliation, Threatening, and Intimidation

  • Belittling or humiliating you, especially in front of others

  • Name-calling or constantly criticizing

  • Threatening to leave you

  • Threatening to take your children or pets away from you

  • Threatening to harm your child

  • Breaking your belongings or throwing things

  • Driving erratically to scare you or force obedience


Gas-lighting is a type of manipulation that makes you question your sanity, judgments, and memory. You may begin to mistrust yourself and feel as if you’re losing your mind.

An abuser may:

  • Insist you said or did something you didn’t

  • Deny an event happened

  • Question your memory of facts and events

  • Pretend not to understand you or refuse to listen to you

  • Deny their earlier promises and statements


Create a Supportive Network

It may be difficult to share with someone about your experience, but having a trustworthy friend or therapist can be calming and helpful while dealing with verbal abuse. They might be able to help you make an exit plan.

Coach Sharon G

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