Verbal Abuse Hurts at Least as Much as Physical Abuse
People used to say "Sticks and stones may break break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Experts now say that this old, old saying is not true and that because verbal abuse is often continuous, the consequences can be longer-lasting.
The April issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter says that scolding, swearing, yelling, blaming, insulting, threatening, ridiculing, demeaning, and criticizing can be just as harmful as physical abuse, sexual abuse outside the home, or witnessing physical abuse at home. According to the report, constant and severe verbal abuse creates a risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, the same type of psychological collapse often experienced by combat troops.
"Possible consequences could include insecure attachments to others, negative feelings about oneself in relation to others, poor social functioning, and lowered self-esteem and coping strategies." Worse," says, Teicher, “such possibilities are not mutually exclusive.”
Yet-unpublished research by Teicher shows that exposure to verbal abuse does affect certain areas of the brain. These areas are associated with changes in verbal IQ as well as symptoms of depression, dissociation, and anxiety.