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Verbal Abuse Can Cause Years of Trauma

Health & Wellness  (tags: children, abuse, risks )

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The damage is sometimes more serious and lasting than injuries that result from beatings, say Harvard researchers reporting on a survey of young adults. Picture from

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Mandy F (102)
Tuesday May 22, 2007, 3:48 am
Emotional abuse has been studied in the past only as a precursor to physical violence. Almost all physical violence started out as emotional and verbal violence first. After all, you don't take a healthy woman with an intact self-image and hit her; not more than once anyway. No, usually there is a slow erosion of self-image; a slow distortion of reality, long before the first slap, kick or punch.

If humans couldn't talk, how much less pain we could cause!!! Not just on purpose, but miscommunications, and things said without thought, or oversensitive people misconstruing something said to/about them...

Mandy F (102)
Tuesday May 22, 2007, 5:08 am
This was removed? Is there something wrong with this article?

Candy L (473)
Tuesday May 22, 2007, 5:25 am
Send it to your friends to get noted. that would help.

Mandy F (102)
Tuesday May 22, 2007, 5:33 am
Thanks Candy! I like to think people note my stories because they find them interesting and perhaps useful... Is Care2 moving stories away that don't get noted enough? There was something like that a while back when I still posted a lot but I thought they had stopped. For now its been moved back to newly submitted.
Thank you Patti and Candy for noting =)

Maureen S (122)
Tuesday May 22, 2007, 8:05 pm
Greetings Mandy,

You are so correct about verbal abuse; as a child I grew up in a home where verbal abuse was the "norm;" my father was literally a tyrant!!! And I was constantly told how I was a "bad girl," or something else equally hurtful and damaging; it took a tremendous toll on me. Moreover, I was not "emotionally" well for many years and it took substantial counseling to get me there, along with my deep spiritual beliefs. Now, I am happy, with the self-esteem I should have had all along.

As for the studies, there have been more than you might recognise as regards verbal abuse; and it's also gaining in attention here in the U.S. with more and more studies; this is particularly true in programs which teach conflict analysis and resolution. HOW we say things is just as important--if not more so--than what we say; and there are many other things that must be considered as well, such as intonation, non-verbal language (i.e., body language), and much more.

Bottom line? It can and does leave scars for a long, long time. If I had not had the courage to face things whilst still in my 20s . . . it's likely I would have ended up an alcoholic like my siblings; one is now dead, and the other two drink themselves into oblivion on a regular basis. *sigh* So much so that I cannot even stand to have them in my life. So the damage is not done to just those who are abused, it damages all those in the family.

Thank you so much for posting this story; it's touching and it's also full of good information. We can hope that the current trend of studies that relate these findings will continue, at an every increasing and growth producing rate. Well done you! =)

Past Member (0)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 1:27 am
This is so very true..............Every parent should walk backwards, tie a knot in their tongues and leave the house when they feel a verbal rage coming on. Verbal abuse never does leave!!
READ ON....................
Think of tomorrow-Pick up the litter-Plant seeds-Grow trees-Make a forest-For Mother Nature-And her animals.....................

Verbal abuse can leave a mark

Researchers say parents' words can cause years of trauma.

Harvard Mental Health Letter |
Posted May 22, 2007

The children's rhyme denies it, but it may be true. Words are weapons that can cause lasting wounds, especially when wielded by parents against children. The damage is sometimes more serious and lasting than injuries that result from beatings, say Harvard researchers reporting on a survey of young adults.

More than 500 people aged 18-22 who responded to an ad were asked whether their parents had ever yelled at them, sworn at them, insulted, threatened or ridiculed them. Among those who reported no physical or sexual abuse, the researchers chose the 10 percent most often subject to this verbal abuse and compared them with controls.

All the participants answered a series of questionnaires about symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, and especially dissociative experiences -- split consciousness, out-of-body sensations, a sense of unreality. They were also asked about symptoms typical of temporal lobe epilepsy, including transient hallucinations and automatic actions, as well as dissociative experiences.

All types of abuse -- sexual, physical, and emotional (including verbal abuse and witnessing domestic violence) -- raised the risk of depression, anxiety, dissociation and epilepsylike symptoms. Emotional abuse had as great an effect as the other kinds, and verbal abuse was a particularly strong risk factor for dissociative episodes and epilepsylike symptoms.

The authors speculate that name-calling and threats cause stress that affects the development of vulnerable brain regions or serve as an unfortunate model for adult communication. The effects can be severe, they suspect, partly because verbal abuse may be more continuous and relentless than sexual or physical abuse.

The symptoms found in adults subject to childhood verbal abuse could also have genetic roots, as the authors acknowledge. Abuse of all kinds, including verbal, is more likely when a parent suffers from mental illness, and most psychiatric disorders have a genetic component. Furthermore, people with current psychiatric symptoms are more likely than others to report childhood maltreatment, but their memories are not necessarily reliable or objective. That means the association discovered in the study could be influenced by heredity and biased recall as well as the abuse itself.

The authors point out that in surveys, 63 percent of American parents admit that they have sworn at or insulted a child at some time. The authors note that physical child abuse and witnessing domestic violence are regarded as traumatic experiences that create a risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. The study suggests that when verbal abuse is constant and severe, it too creates that risk -- although parents should not be concerned that children will be traumatized by an occasional harsh or angry word.

Cheryl B (375)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 6:58 am
I got both verbal and physical from my mother when a child she was very angry my father left and took it out on me, I was 2 when the emotional block started from her. The verbal abuse continues to this day, I stayed away from her as much as possible during my life. At present because of a corrupt medical profession, malpractice and corrupt government, I am left with my mother being my caregiver, I only allow her here the least I can and she has demnentia now turning to altermizers it appears to be rapitdly increasing (her borther has it too) and the verbal abuse has risen drastically and faster, faster. And u cna't have a discussion with someone with this illnes, it turns into an arguement, because they can't remember in their mind u become the liar. with some with that illness because they don't remember and often the verbal abuse gets worse with it I found it. In the early years it affects your self esteem, what you are capable of unless u are fortunate to find a mentor and LOVE WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED with it, etc. and learning forgiveness. I've been scared of my mother since I was a child, and here I am dependent on her for my life and she's loosing her mind.Yeah I can relate...

Maureen S (122)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 1:03 pm
Bette and Sunshine . . . thanks for adding even more information. Sunshine my Sister . . . if I were closer to you I would be your caregiver!!! =D And I would shower you with love, warm fuzzies (NOT cold pricklies!) and fun, laughter and magick!!! I shower you with that anyway. *giggle*

Seriously, it's terible that you must rely on someone that you feel the way you do about, for your life!!! Is there nothing that you can do? No way to access some other caregiver? If I could, I would move mountains to see that you are protected from her! And please know that I am sending you constand energy, healing and love . . . UNCONDITIONAL! Along with tonnes and tonnes of orca spirit to heal and help you!

Hang in there darling . . . You are a true light to us here, and we love you! No one should be subjected to this type of abuse; and one thing that I can relate to as well is that these wounds and scars are far WORSE than the physical; I had all three--verbal, sexual, and physical and emotional!!! (ooopsss! that's 4)--and there are times that I have thought I would rather have had the bruises et cetera. At least one has something to "show" for it . . . these scars are unseen. And then if there is behaviour as a result, one is penalised for that as well. *sigh* And they say we're the MOST intelligent???

We don't see the great apes, or the killer whales and dolphins doing this!!! Instead, it'a all about that love and comfort. What does THAT say? =)

Kim F (114)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 2:23 pm
Verbal abuse leaves scars like no other beating every could . My husband verbal abused me for years. I would ask him to just hit me inside that it would be less painful. We seprated and got back together. But I have not ever been able to get over the pain ( also the abuse comes back ) . We are now getting a divorce. I have grown a lot and would not wish this heartacke on anyone. I feel for all others that have and are still being abused in this cruel way.
Thank you for your note. Bless you!!!

Cheryl B (375)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 2:23 pm
God Bles M, yes the emotional as well is devestating at any age, the younger thou u are being programmed so to speak and it does so but in ways socitey makes it worse, not support u. regarding caregiving, I up against corrupt government, I had caregiving by them but they are protecting the hosptials ajnd doctors involved and it's been cut off for year, but it was torture too. but i digress, it's very scarey now that she proressing so fast, and so am being left here. The child still comes out or is affect all these years later, she was quite damaged herself as a child and I try to remember that. So mothers of the world have to learn to break the cycles, not maintian them and fathers and relatives to that. It was a mixed marriage relgious wise and I the outcast of both families. Never had children or adopted, this was one of several reasons, I was scared I would continue the cycle. Looking back, if physially able it could have turned my whole life around, as I was aware of it to quite some degree. I will never know this time around.

Cheryl B (375)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 2:38 pm
as for the caregiving been searching on/off for past year pay myself (ON DIABIiitty), more desparate now, and for quite a few reasons won't go into here, nadda yet, add secretary to that, lol. I was sexually assulted a few times quite young from running away from my mother, so that on my list too and because of the verbal, emothional and physical abuse, plus several other reasons, alcohol, boyfriends became more important. This was the 50's she even had to hide that she was divorced and pretend she was widowed, it wasn't easy for her either, I don't know why she didn't put me up for adoption, there is love there. And frankly, if I can get the help I need medcially and the governmetn issues addressed, I wouldn't want to leave her alone at this time in her life when she has no one and it took years just to get some of the abuse out o fher she had gone throu, I strongly suspect I haven't gotten it all out of her. Even throu all of this I wouldn't want her left alone.

Cheryl B (375)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 2:41 pm
Mindy, often links stop working or care2 problems or the original site, so many copy the article below right away (especially highly politicaly and not mainstream media as they are getting taken down faster and faster) Bette has copied it out above, and c2 has been having major problems lately with white pages, not being able to get to sites, post, long list, very :)

Cheryl B (375)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 2:43 pm
oh ur comment not noted enough fast enough, YES, it will still show on ur submitted page but not on the newly submitted page, unless u get more to note it asap, or unless they have changed that.

Maureen S (122)
Wednesday May 23, 2007, 3:32 pm
Greetings Sunshine . . . well darling . . . at least we know why you shine so brightly! It's your deep sprituality that makes up for the difference! I totally understand your compassion for your Mother despite all that happened; even though my Mother didn't protect me as she should have, I still loved her and wanted the best for her. Now that she is gone, it's easier to remember all the good things as she was the only one who DID love me unconditionally and did all she could to protect me, including taking beatings from my Dad in order to keep him off of me or one of the others. I think recognising their pain, the times that they lived in, et cetera, is part of the healing process for us. After all, without understanding all the perspectives, we aren't able to understand and forgive . . . and then set ourselves free.

I hope that you get what you need dear friend; and I will keep you in my prayers and ask the Goddess to watch over you and your Mother. As for that assistant, I need one too!!! rofl Peace & love Sister! =)

Past Member (0)
Thursday May 24, 2007, 6:04 am
i was verbally emotionall abused and beaten by my father until i was 15 then he took many years of martial arts therapy all healing modalities, all types of believe me all types of healing modalities, mediation medication prayer. i walked the walk. I was made to believe i was worthless. that set against being financially a princess my father knew how to give money and abuse.twenty years later only twenty years later i am healing

Cheryl B (375)
Thursday May 24, 2007, 6:23 am
I'm still not healing/healing inside, as going throu more trama, I regret to know that happened to Sophia, know that it took alot of courage on ur part to do what u did, I ran. My heart goes out to you, and notice who is posting here, women.

Pat B (356)
Thursday May 24, 2007, 7:34 pm

Stephanie Anthony (0)
Friday May 25, 2007, 11:33 am
Good Story. I want to know more about the study.

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Friday May 25, 2007, 4:43 pm
Well, thanks to whoever removed the post abusing ME! At my age {71}, I have learned to handle verbal abuse quite well!
Verbal as well as physical abuse of a child is reprehensible.
I am fortunate that my parents set a good example, were not abusive in that way and showed me how to raise my own child.
Talking about this problem and bringing it to light, is a good beginning.

Thanh Nguyen (10)
Saturday May 26, 2007, 4:09 pm
wow, that's a first (sarcasm). They should know this already! What is wrong with these people and adults. Of course any abuse is bad for you and will cause all sorts of problems. It does not take a couple of million dollars and fifty 300 IQ people to know this! Haven't they seen enough with bullying and abuse? They should have spent the money to stop it and prevent it not find already known information on it.

Cheryl B (375)
Sunday May 27, 2007, 5:04 am
Well Thanh, unfortunatley many don't account verbal abuse as abuse until a group of doctors get together and publish a study, then from that more attention & finances to open more places and education in the schools may happen, yes may. As with ur lack of knowledge on IQ ratings, many people think this is normal behaviour. It is unfortnate that these expensive studies, some one after another are done, some for what is obvious, some not, and some that even still don't get to the truth so they do more. It is unfortnate that our societies, worldwide are still set up this way. So why don't u submit some to c2nn that are ahead and help people, find any on abusive demintia and who to deal with it from others, send me a link, I am not up to a suppport group for it right now.

Cheryl B (375)
Sunday May 27, 2007, 5:09 am
oh and do account that swearing in many countries is part of the common language even among the rich.

Maureen S (122)
Friday June 1, 2007, 4:49 pm
Thanh, Sunshine, and all others . . .

Just a last comment or two; the point about spending money on the studies that Thanh makes, I agree; it's too bad that this is still necessary and something that I perceive is a major issue in many societies and cultures! And Sunshine is so correct on the point that verbal abuse is often not seen as "abuse!" It's taken a long, long time for recognition of this issue to come to light.

Sunshine your points about the study, as well as future monies and centers to deal with this goes, you make an extremely valid point!!! Due to the fact that so many have not perceived this as abuse in the past (unfortunately), it makes it that much more important to continue these studies, whether perceived as "old news" or not. Even I must recognise this . . . as many times there are points that are missed, or perspectives that are left unseen. This only serves to allow the cycle to continue.

While awareness is much greater at present than it has been at any other time, it still requires more awareness and more education so that we can break the ugly cycles that have been started and repeated generation after generation; verbal abuse is no different than physical abuse in that sense.

In closing, I send healing to all of those hear that have been the victims of this; additionally, I will submit that the more we learn, the more we area able to help others and facilitate bringing the peace that we so desperately need presently! Sunshine, I shall send you some special healing given that you are still struggling with the scars of this. Again, you are a beautiful person! Always remember that! =)
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