Have you ever been insulted by your co-worker due to your “dumb mistakes”? Have you ever felt like you are a failure because of what your parents tell you that anything you do is ‘unsatisfactory’? Have you even been cussed at and shamed in front of people? Have you been unreasonably ignored by your friend because you have been recognized as a weird person to talk to? If so, then you have been a victim of verbal abuse.
According to Kellie Holly, verbal abuse is an ill-mannered social interaction wherein the perpetrator attacks the victim by either insulting, provoking, cussing, calling hurtful names, belittling, or shaming him/her. Usually, the perpetrator uses a very offensive set of words with a highly sarcastic or angry tone of voice. However, this derogatory act does not have to include a colorful spectrum of cuss. In other words, the choice of vocabulary doesn’t matter. An intellectual, comprehensive vocabulary still can be used in verbal abuse. The tone of voice can also be counted for a friendly tone cannot cover up the ill-mannered act done by the abuser.
The nature of this negative action can be alarming due to its occurrence and effect on the victim. The victim can experience it anytime, anywhere, and from anyone. It would, therefore, mean that it is a spontaneous act and dependent on circumstance – whether predicted or unpredicted circumstance. Sample experiences can be in school before class starts, where a student belittles another due to his/her physical appearance. Another would be at work where the boss insults his/her employee in front of his co-workers, and at home where a family member negatively comments his/her child for getting a single B despite being at the top of the class. Creating a humiliating environment would leave the victim some negative psychological effects or emotional pain. Sample effects would be self-doubt, lack of confidence, fear and anxiety, anger issues, depression, loss of self-worth, and etcetera.
However, as time passes, verbal abuse has evolved and can be done in another way. Due to technological advancement, perpetrators have a new platform to humiliate their victim/s. The abuser can use social media – such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter – as a tool for his/her whim. He/she can type his/her harassment towards the victim by either sugar-coated or straight forward words, even add a supportive material – such as video or picture –, and post it to his/her page. The danger of this written verbal abuse is the possibility of its blowing up and becoming viral in social media platform/s. It can be passed around to people by tags, e-mails, tweets, or hashtags, and the effects of this to the victim could be grave. Some people have even been driven to suicide due to what others have been saying online. Verbal abuse has become easier for everyone to engage in. Having said all this, we just need to keep in mind that if we have the ability to put each other down to shame by speaking, then we also have the ability to uplift each other by words. We have the ability to encourage, give confidence, and make each other smile and laugh.