The Effects of Verbal Abuse and Bullying

Updated on February 5, 2019

Verbal abuse and bullying aren't just restricted to the playground—it can follow many people into adulthood and take place at home or work. It's something I feel strongly about, and I have experienced it in many forms throughout my life.

It can happen anywhere, to anyone at anytime

Every time someone is verbally abused, whether occasionally or regularly, it chips away at their confidence and diminishes their spirit. Verbal abuse can take place anywhere from the playground to the workplace, home to the street and nobody is immune from encountering it.

As adults we can usually choose whether to react to something someone has said or to ignore it - we have the maturity to decide whether to let it bother us or not. But for a child, nasty, hurtful words can be frightening and upsetting and leave them feeling helpless and vulnerable, particularly if it is coming from their own home environment. Who can they turn to for help? Often they don't know what to do and consequently suffer in silence and become introverted.

Many children endure taunting for years for fear of recrimination, they believe there is a worse consequence ahead if they speak out - usually because someone has threatened them, 'If you do this, I'll do that'. For those who aren't brave enough to tell someone, escaping the situation could take years, usually when a change to their environment occurs such as moving school, divorce in the family, or starting work.

Why do they do it?

The thought of change can bring hope to many coping with verbal abuse, but the sad reality is that it usually brings a fresh set of difficulties. The person may have become so introverted that they stand out like a sore thumb, easy prey to the next person looking for a rubbing-rag. The fact that someone is different makes them an interesting target for a bully because they are often intrigued by their individuality. They want to poke and prod them verbally and see what makes them tick. They are a curiosity and a muse, the punch bag on which they vent all their own insecurities.

And that is the keyword; insecurity. People often attack others verbally because there is something in their own life that is making them feel inadequate. They need to make someone feel bad so that they can feel better in return, it gives them a sense of worth. Like any addiction (as that is what it is due to the short-lived euphoria), it needs to be fed and so the bully repeats the taunting over and over again to remain superior to their victim.

What about the victim(s)?

Being a victim affects people mentally. Their self-esteem suffers because when someone attacks them verbally they are left feeling rubbish and emotionally bruised. For adults enduring verbal abuse, chances are there has been a chain of it running through their life. They have probably spent most of their life avoiding conflict, because it makes them feel so worthless and consequently haven't learned to deal with it.

As a victim, the only way for them to stop it is to deal with it, or else it will follow them wherever they go. They may have already reached a point where they can't stand being around other people, and don't know how to relate to them. They probably prefer to be left alone and opt out of any social situations. If that is how they really feel, then that is what will happen - they will become a loner, possibly a recluse. That doesn't mean they will be lonely, there is a difference, if they have truly accepted that a solitary life is for them then they may well be very happy.

Have courage and set yourself free!

Not everybody wants to be a loner though, many victims of verbal abuse are crying out for friendship, they really need a helping hand. The taunting they endure becomes a way of life, like a routine which plays itself out over and over again. They don't know how to break the cycle and are so low in confidence that they cannot see a way out.

They know it takes a lot of guts and courage to find the strength to break away from a seemingly impossible situation, yet feel so helpless that they don't believe they are capable. Adults usually repeat their childhood way of coping with abuse by remaining silent and not wanting to trouble anyone else. Often something then happens that tips them over the edge, leaving them no choice but to deal with it. Their whole world collapses around them.

Out of chaos comes order, though not many people see a catastrophe as a way out. For victims of verbal abuse it can really set them free. It can mean a fresh start and give them a feeling of liberation as they dust themselves down and leave their previous life behind. They become empowered as transformation helps their confidence gradually return, and they realise that the world is not such a scary place.

Children encountering verbal abuse really ought to tell someone, soon. If not it is likely they will continue to encounter it in other forms as they mature. Adults have more opportunity to deal with it but often hesitate because any decisions they make may have a ripple effect on others, particularly family members. The only way to be free from abuse is to nip it in the bud immediately as it arises - don't suffer in silence.

Nobody has the right to make anyone feel worthless and control their life to the extent they feel trapped. If you are a victim reading this, take one small comfort in the knowledge that your pathetic abuser is probably feeling ten times worse and knows one day they will be held to account for what they have done.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Please leave a comment - Let me know if you found this helpful and informative

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      i amazed your work it helps me to understand and to be aware about what will possible happen

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thank you for all of you amazing work some of us need it so we can handle bullies I be there and now I can just read this when I have a little bully hapning

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I'm sure you intentions were good when you wrote this article. But you might want to update your research. As most of us know domestic abuse and violence includes husbands and wives verabally abusing each other, with put down, threats, harassment, agression, punching. These are not rare incidents in homes in America. In fact sadly it's becoming more common. Right now there are numbers of support groups across the US for abusive men and women who need help. These are real and are funded by each state congress. Your article is very misinformed.

      There are up to 10 million adults who are in domestic violent and abusive relationship, not to mention work place bullying, and or gang violence that can include harassment.

      Thought I'd let you know.

    • profile image 

      4 years ago

      You could probably find something in every article in here!

      I LOVE YOU,


    • flightofdestiny2 profile image


      6 years ago

      What an incredible lens. I linked to it on my own lens about bullying found at

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great page...a topic near and dear to my heart.

    • justmelucy profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome Lens! Thank you for sharing. I can say ditto to each module and the facts that you share. I have liked the lens, FB liked it and pinned it. I would like your permission to link it to my lens Facing The Future. I'm on my way to read more of your lenses. Everyone of them seem to speak to me. Thank you again for writing and sharing your thoughts.

    • J-Shephard profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for posting about this serious issue in society

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Keep up the good work,from us all at Always helping victims of "Bullying in the workplace",yours Tom Thumb.Thank you.

    • profile image

      pinkrenegade lm 

      8 years ago

      Informative lens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is great lens and we should indeed not allow this things to happened. today abuse is an alarming cases rapidly increasing.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is great lens and we should indeed not allow this things to happened. today abuse is an alarming cases rapidly increasing.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Informative lens. Well done.

    • Marciajane profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from England

      Thankyou very much for your comment. You may notice a number of my lenses hit on aspects of bullying from my Trichotillomania story to my lens on bitchiness. I'm here to prove there is light at the end of the tunnel for any victim and that bullying is totally wrong and unacceptable.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A very thought provoking lens, well done.


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