while many of our articles and books use the phrase verbal abuse,from now on we have decided to use the term verbal aggression instead. We have found that in real life situations the term abuse can leave room for doubt about what these words really means, and so we feel verbal aggression or passive aggression are more descriptive and exact.

Handling Verbal Abuse

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me ” was obviously written by someone who never lived with a verbally abusive family member. Quite simply, words can and do hurt.”   Read More . . .

Like all forms of passive or covert aggression, verbal passive aggression can also take many forms. These include arrogance, sarcasm, innuendo and gossip or a person being dismissive or glib.

All forms of verbal aggression can be destructive to a person’s health and vitality and may damage their confidence, relationships and mental health.

Why Do People Inflict Verbal Aggression on People they Love?

Arguments can flare in the heat of the moment if a person’s relationship feels threatened or they feel that they have been disrespected.

It is normal to feel angry when you feel disrespected or under threat. There are times however when instead of a person simply defending themselves, their response can turn into a verbal attack.

Other people will use yelling and threatening language to impose their will on the people around them. While this may get people to do what they want in the short term, but in the long term it is likely to breed resentment and contempt.

People are especially likely to use aggression as a means of forcing their will on others when they feel vulnerable or powerless. This habit may have been learned from their parents and other role models. Verbal aggression as a means of coercion is a sign of weakness rather than strength.

I used to hide at home scared that our neighbors had heard us fighting. Back then I had no idea that our fights were a symptom of a Narcissistic/Codependent Marriage.”

What Can I do if I am Guilty of Verbal Aggression?

Learning better negotiation skills is vital to overcome verbal aggression. Likewise, emotional intelligence skills (such as self soothing and emotional regulation) are central to effective leadership and will help a person earn the respect and authority they are seeking without resorting to anger or threats.

Negotiation, leadership and assertiveness training are vital for a person who finds themselves at a loss to command authority or respect.

If you are guilty of verbal aggression towards your family members in the past, you should admit you are embarrassed about your past actions and reassure them you are genuinely working on controlling your temper. If you do this and also stand firm in your decision not to discuss things in the heat of the moment, in time you will earn your family’s respect and trust.

If you find you are saying things in an aggressive or sarcastic tone, stop yourself and tell the person you are speaking to that you are too upset to discuss this matter now and you need time to cool off.

After this write down what upset you but then forget about it for a while and choose to do something to help you feel calm again. Don’t make a decision on the matter until a few days have past and you can revisit the problem in a calm state of mind.

What Can I do if I am the Victim of Verbal Aggression?

Just because you can’t control an aggressive person’s behaviour directly doesn’t mean you are powerless. By shifting your own behaviour patterns you can massively influence both sides of your relationship.

The articles below lead into Kim’s members only resources on dealing with verbal aggression in your home.


Kim Cooper

Handling Verbal Abuse

Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me ” was obviously written by someone who never lived with verbal abuse. Quite simply, words can and do hurt.” For years I lived on the receiving end of insults, verbal aggression and sarcasm and I am embarrassed to say I was often guilty of these myself.

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