The Effects of Verbal Abuse

The Weapon of Choice Project is designed to show the pain from the invisible injuries that can be caused by verbal abuse. Creator Richard Johnson, wanted to dispel the 'stick and stones' attitude that words cannot hurt someone, when they can actually cause significant emotional distress. Verbal abuse causes the victim, child or adult, to feel fear and anxiety. This is compounded when a verbal abuser shows unexpected kindness, as they know that it wont last, making the abuse hurt all the more, when it returns. This constant anxiety over when the next barrage of abuse will come, makes a victim distrustful of almost anyone who may show them love and kindness, as they fear it may turn to cruelty as it does with their abuser.

Constantly searching people for triggers or clues for upcoming abuse is exhausting for the victim, gradually grinding them down. Victims can feel extremely low, yet afraid to seek comfort and reassurance, in case they are met with further abuse. It is an extremely difficult position to be in, making the victim feel incredibly isolated.

Effect of Verbal Abuse on Children

Verbal abuse on children can significantly affect their development. They can be prone to act out at school and at home, become more aggressive, develop substance abuse problems, and have difficulty in social situations, experiencing acute social anxiety. Children who experience verbal abuse from their parents, tend to take on the trait that they are accused of having. For example, if a parent constantly tells their child they are stupid, they may adopt this trait by losing interest in schooling, putting no interest in their work, as they see it as a pointless endeavour.

Effect of Verbal Abuse on Adults

Verbal abuse has a number of negative effects on adult victims, from low self esteem, to the development of mental illness, like depression and chronic anxiety. Victims may also experience:

- Difficulty in communicating with others, or feeling like they are unable to converse with people normally.

- Feeling that they are the ones in the wrong, like there is something wrong with them as opposed to the abuser. They may feel like they must be selfish, or a bad person, for someone to treat them this way.

- Difficulty in making decisions, as they feel they don't do anything right.

- An obsession with past experiences of abuse, wondering where they made a mistake that led to the abuse, not realising that it is the abuser that is in the wrong.

- Feelings of low self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as having little enthusiasm for anything.

There is evidence to suggest that there are also some significant detrimental effects of long term verbal abuse. Psychologically, they may develop long-term anxiety and depression, post traumatic stress disorder, insomnia or other sleep disorders, issues with substance abuse, and self -harming. Perhaps surprisingly, verbal abuse has also been linked to certain physiological responses including: migraines and headaches, stomach ulcers, digestive problems, and heart conditions.